Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Prayers Answered

As a Presbyterian minister, I witness the answer of prayer many times. This past summer has been no exception. But before I go on, I am lifting up prayers for the Korean Presbyterian Church members who are being held captive in Afghanistan. Two members of the group have already been killed as of yesterday morning (31 July). I ask that you, the reader, also lift up prayers, not only for the Korean Presbyterian group, but for the entire Middle East, that we stop killing each other in the name of the same God.

Now that I have said that, I am going to comment on a few prayers answered here in Barrow this summer.

There was a member here in Barrow, (that while she was a student at the same seminary my wife and I attended, this member attended our wedding in Wausau, Wisconsin twenty two years ago) left with Breast Cancer to go to Anchorage for surgery and chemo therapy for the month of June. During the surgery, the doctors were able to get all of the cancer, so she was able to return home within the week and without the chemo treatments. She was back in the village for my installation on June 17. It was truly a blessing to have her back home.

The other story concerns the congregation, the community and the Board of Deacons. The deacons run the ONLY food bank in the community of Barrow, a community of 4,200. They would receive five to six calls a week for food. The deacons would meet with the family at the store, (only one grocery store in Barrow) and purchase food depending on the number of people in the family. A total of $250.00 could be spent for one family twice a quarter. The Board of Deacons responded to anybody and everybody, especially if there were children involved. The only time the Board really worried about families abusing the ministry is when the adults were drinking alcohol or using drugs rather than feeding their families. Being the only food bank in town, they were taking care of the whole community.

After spending almost $10,000.00 in the past five months, with little funds coming in, the bank account ran dry fast. The store allowed credit, but that was soon used up as well. It turned out that the Deacons were $4,000 in debt. They had to stop the food bank effectively immediately.

Of course, that night we had three families call in for food, we had to say "sorry". I mentioned the debt on Sunday morning and had them announce the decision to stop the food bank on the evening radio show the church host every Sunday evening. The next afternoon, one of the people helping to clean up the sanctuary found an envolope with a check for $1,000.00. By Wednesday night, another check for $500.00 was added to the fund. The next Sunday night, a very retired couple paid the remaining balance of the debt with a check for $3,000.

That was two weeks ago. The debt has been paid off, but the Board of Deacons still have little funds to continue the food bank, so they are still not able to buy food yet. They will be meeting next week to try and find another way to maintain the food bank for the community. Obviously, buying food at the moment of a phone call was not working. We are looking into buying bulk items, and then passing them out to families on a weekly basis. But this still requires the funds up front. Unfortunately in Barrow, we are a isolated community. We can not just drive to the next major town and get more food, everything has to be either flown in or by barge during a six to ten week open sea time frame. Anything coming by barge to get here this summer, left Seattle back in June.

The Board of Deacons are still trying to find a way to care for the community. They will be praying and trying to figure out how to be the best stewards of the gifts that God has bestowed upon them. I look forward to seeing how we can make this work.

Again, as this post is about answered prayers, I would ask that you continue to lift up the Board of Deacons, the Korean Presbyterians in Afganastan as well as the rest of Creation, as we all try to be wise stewards of the gifts bestowed upon us by our wonderful loving God.

Peace and blessings.

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