Arctic Evangelism Defies Winter's Blast

Despite being greeted by frigid Arctic air, on Feb. 11, Brian and Denise Bechthold, Northwest Native evangelists, and Rick Binford, Nome, Gambell and Savvoonga district pastor, landed in Gambell, Alaska, to conduct the third series of evangelistic meetings in three consecutive years. Temperatures were 15 degrees below zero with 35 mph winds. But the kind friendship of the Siberian Yupik people soon warmed them, and the series got underway Friday evening.

Simultaneously, the town was hosting a high school basketball series. The tournament brought teams from three different villages and distracted from the meetings. Even so, the meetings were launched and God brought members and guests out for opening night. The games were over by Saturday evening, and by Sunday attendance doubled.

Except, now the weather threatened to keep people home. The thermometer plunged, winds increased to 50 mph; visibility went to zero, remaining there for four days. Even with these conditions, however, attendance stayed constant throughout the series.

On March 1, the church welcomed three new members: Fabian Ungott and Reanna Soonagrook by baptism and Susan Campbell by profession of faith. Campbell's parents were early members of the church, and she was baptized young. She had ceased being an active member and instead was a lay pastor for the Presbyterian church. Now 74-years-old, she has taken her stand once again for "Bible truth."

April 01, 2008 / Alaska Conference

Rick Binford, Nome, Gambell and Savoonga district pastor