Low-cost Technology Brings Gospel to Bush Alaska Brings Gospel to Bush Alaska
Judi and Gavin Thompson have a passion for getting the gospel into Alaska's Native villages—a vast mission field crying for hope within North America. Alcoholism and suicide are rampant in remote villages accessible only by air. And, with more than 250 villages in bush Alaska with populations less than 1,000, it would take close to two years to visit them all, even if you flew to a new village every other day! Furthermore, fuel prices as high as $10.00 per gallon, make that prohibitive. Fewer than 10 of these villages have any known Adventist presence.
Before the Thompsons came to the U.S. from New Zealand two years ago, they had been toying with the concept of 5-watt radio stations in small villages that could broadcast continuous pre-recorded Adventist programming with very little human oversight. When they moved to Dillingham, Alaska, where Judi was employed to teach in the Adventist mission school where none of the 14 students are Adventist, the opportunity to develop their radio-ministry dream was realized.
After brainstorming ideas, they began to assemble their first radio station. It would be self-contained and small enough to be mailed to a village where someone locally could erect the simple antenna and plug it in to have it run continuously for an extended period of time. The concept includes having a local person available to receive the package, follow the simple set-up directions and periodically receive and load additional programming. The total cost of the 24/7 gospel radio station powerful enough to cover a whole village is only about $500.
Excitement about their first station spilled over into Thompson's third- to fifth-grade classroom and her e-mail contacts. Her classroom began to assemble a scrapbook of information about each village. At camp meeting in July, the Alaska Conference began a conference-wide prayer initiative.
Recognizing the power of prayer, Thompson e-mailed everyone about the project, asking for financial support of the project as well as inviting them to select one of the villages and specifically pray for them each day. The response was gratifying. The list of villages receiving prayer is increasing. Financial support is growing. Soon three radio stations became operational, and material was purchased for two more.
"This initiative is much bigger than just 250 radio stations," exclaims Thompson. "This is about sharing the good news of hope to a dying world." For more about the Share the Light ministry project, visit the Alaska Conference Web site at www.alaskaconference.org.