Woman of Faith Takes On Arctic Ministry

January 12, 2015 | Colleen Crawford

After working for more than 18 years with the native population on Washington's Yakama Reservation, Viola Kaiser answered the call of the Lord to be a spiritual leader among the native population in the last frontier — Alaska. Kaiser is a trained chaplain who spent the last eight years working for Weimar Institute in California, but she never anticipated where her prayers might lead. 

Ken Crawford, Alaska Conference president, and his wife, Colleen, escorted Kaiser in November to her new assignment in Gambell on St. Lawrence Island, but they first stopped in Savoonga to provide a celebration dinner for the members there. Kaiser was originally scheduled to be in Savoonga and had sent 25 boxes of her personal belongings there by mail, but, by the time she arrived, the postmaster had quit and the post office was permanently closed. Kaiser was confident God would take care of it and took it to the Lord in prayer. 

On Thanksgiving Day, Kaiser and the Crawfords were walking by the Savoonga post office and saw a light on in the back. They knocked on the door, and a man answered and said, "I am from Barrow. I am only here today trying to sort through this backlog of mail. I’m leaving on a flight back to Barrow in the morning.” They were able to pick up all of Kaiser's boxes and take them to Gambell on the next flight.

The remoteness of arctic Alaska was a bit more of a climate shock than Kaiser expected, but she saw so many answers to prayer that she knew God was leading. She has settled into her tiny one-bedroom apartment attached to the Gambell Church, 35 miles off the coast of Siberia and just below the Arctic Circle. The members have been kind and hospitable, and she is excited to see what her ministry will be like in one of the most remote churches in North America.