Association votes to partner with Alaska
Long distances, small churches and the need for laborers in the harvest field—those are some of the similarities that Alaska Southern Baptists share with Oregon Trail Baptist Association in Western Nebraska.
The OTBA Executive Board voted on Saturday, Jan. 25, to enter a partnership with the Alaska Baptist Convention. This action came after nearly four years of forming relationships with Alaska Southern Baptists.
“We are the most un-churched state in the nation,” Butch Strickland said of Alaska. Strickland is director of church planting and missions for the Alaska convention.
Alaska is two-and-one-third times the size of Texas. A Texas-sized area of the state has 100 villages where there are no evangelical churches, Strickland said.
The state also is very ethnically diverse. As just one example, 96 languages are spoken in the Anchorage school system.
Strickland came to Oregon Trail Association a few days before the Executive Board meeting. He toured the association with Doug Lee, director of missions. The two traveled more than 1,200 miles.
Lee and two OTBA pastors—Ryan Alexander and Dave McDonald—took a vision trip to Alaska in early November 2013. Alexander is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in North Platte, and McDonald is a church planter based in Kearney.
The trip laid the groundwork for two 2014 mission trips to Alaska. Plans call for working with Friendship Baptist Church in Fairbanks and in area towns.
Dates for the trips are:
- June 24-30 with Alexander as team leader.
- Aug. 15-22 with McDonald as team leader.
Those who want to participate are asked to make a commitment and pay a deposit as soon as possible. Team members will need to book their own flights to Fairbanks.
Churches in Oregon Trail Association and other Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptist churches are urged to adopt a church in Alaska.
Strickland and his wife, Pam, served for 15 years as International Mission Board missionaries in Venezuela.
“The people of Venezuela are very, very responsive to the gospel,” Strickland said.
Alaska stands in stark contrast to Venezuela in responsiveness to the gospel. But God is moving, and the Alaska convention has started 22 new churches in the past two years.
Oregon Trail Southern Baptists, with the help of other Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists, are ready to be a part of God’s work in Alaska.