This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to travel to one of the world’s most geographically vertical cities on the map found on Alaska’s North Slope! ”Barrow,” otherwise known as “The Top of the World,” is a wind-swept land on the edge of the arctic ocean known for giant Polar bears that roam the plains & vast oil fields that lie beneath!
Barrow is also home to the native “Inupiat” people who are mostly hunter-gatherers harvesting walrus, whale, polar bears, caribou & fish. The Inupiat are a strong & brave people, yet also a hurting & hopeless people where rates for child abuse, accidental death, assaults, rape, and suicide – all of which have been linked to alcohol abuse – are among the highest in the nation.
I traveled with the Chi Alpha team from the University of Alaska Anchorage & our pastoral staff led by our lead Pastor Mark Zweifel & founder of “Impact Alaska,” a non-profit organization who’s mission is to reach Alaska’s native youth with the Gospel. Our mission was to lead games, team building exercises & teach character & goal setting at the annual Career Expo & Basketball tournament put on by the “North Slope Borough” for high school students from over seven different surrounding villages that come together to participate. Our larger mission was to build relationships with these students & connect them with Chi Alpha, with the hope that when they go to college, they will have immediate relationships, eventually come to Christ, get discipled & go back to their village & begin to change it with the love of Jesus!
Meeting, laughing & shooting hoops with these teens who live on the top of the world was simply amazing! Having served in youth ministry for over a decade now, I left with these 3 reflections regarding teens wherever they may be found…
All teenagers want to have fun
All teenagers long to belong
All teenagers have big dreams
God gave us great favor on our trip & began to unlock even bigger doors for us to come back into the village in the near future!
If the 12 disciples could go out & change the entire world with the “Good News,” then I believe one student can go back to their village & change it with the Good News of Christ’s love!