He Put Them There

I had been in winter storms before, but this was a blizzard. It's not that I wasn't an experienced snow-machine driver. I had driven sleds since I was a boy; it's just that I hadn't experienced anything like this before.

Colleen and I had arrived nearly six months before as volunteer missionaries in Savoonga, on St. Lawrence Island, located in this remote part of arctic Alaska. Wilson Okoomelingok and his wife, Hortense, were our first Bible studies, and what a thrill it was to open the Bible and share the beautiful plan of salvation and see the lights of understanding wink on.

But, believe me, there was no light on this hunting trip with Wilson. Wilson was an experienced Eskimo hunter, and, in what I considered a raging blizzard with white-out conditions. I followed his taillight almost on top of him. I knew if I lost that little red light, it was all over for me on this trackless tundra. Then suddenly the taillight brightened as Wilson stopped, got off his machine and walked to an arctic fox trap hidden in the snow. Then off we went again in the blinding storm. After another short distance, he repeated the same action, and there was another trap.

As we traveled, my mind was whirling: "How can a man find a fox trap in a blinding snowstorm, when you can't see three feet in front of you? I just don't get it." Finally after several times, in exasperation, I blurted out, "Wilson! How do you do that? How do you find them in this blizzard? You can't see a thing — white ground, white snow and white out. This is an impossibility!" By now I was almost shouting in his ear over the howling wind.

Wilson gave me a bewildered, quizzical look and then said in his soft-spoken voice, "I put them there!" I stood in dumbfounded wonder at this Eskimo man. Of course he knew where they were — he had put them there.

How often I have thought of that profound answer from Wilson: "I know where they are, for I put them there."

It brings to mind the words from Ephesians: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).

Think about it: He put them there. Here in Alaska more than 80 percent of the towns and villages can only be reached by airplane. In Alaska we have more than 230 villages, and we only have a presence in about 10. In every one of those villages, there are people who are looking pensively for the light of salvation as a starving man looks longingly through the window of a lavish restaurant. God put them there and put that unanswered yearning in their hearts.

I believe our heavenly Father's delight is in intersecting the path of the searchers with the path of the givers so they can show them the way. They have the questions, and in Christ we have the answer. That's why He put them there.

August 01, 2012 / Editorial
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