Togiak Church Provides Shelter in Times of Storm
I was invited to come to Togiak, Alaska, to conduct a week of prayer; focusing on the sufferings of Jesus and His desire to carry away our pain and find a new identity in Him. My first thought as I stepped off the small six-person plane onto the Togiak runway was, “What have I gotten myself into?” I had expected a small village that felt more or less like home, but what I experienced was a front-line mission outpost.
You can’t get much more rural than Togiak, and yet it seemed to me that the village had quite a lot in common with inner city life. Most of the homes would be considered “run down” by standards in the Lower 48. There are no paved roads; rusted vehicles and trash were everywhere. Even though the village is supposed to be “dry,” alcohol and drug abuse are common. There appeared to be little access to quality, affordable food and few opportunities for work or advancement.
The volunteer workers in Togiak are engaged in the most essential kind of ministry by living the example of Jesus. They provide food, a safe place and the love of God for the teens and adults. The church has become a refuge where people who want to escape the negative influences of alcohol, drugs and abuse can come and just be safe. The church truly is a shelter in a time of storm.
I was moved by my brief time in Togiak, and that small village will always have a special place in my heart. My hope is that the transforming power of Jesus can work in the lives of the young people I met and help them to rise above the challenges before them.