Lake Norman & Mooresville

Church sends mission team to Alaska

In January, Christ Community Church (CCC) in Huntersville entered into a five-year partnership with The Crossings Church of Birchwood, Alaska, to help native tribes and villages.

Because of Alaska's enormous size, native groups can be separated by more than 1,000 miles.

CCC joined in an effort to work with the Yupik Eskimos living in western Alaska and Inupiat Eskimos in northwestern Alaska. The remote villages are accessible only by aircraft, boat or snow machine.

Though the villages have modern schools, high school graduation rates are low. The rates of alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, violent crimes and suicide are some of the highest in the nation.

For a week in June, a team of missionaries from Christ Community Church went to work at the Kokrine Hills Bible Camp (KHBC), a ministry of Koyukon Camp Ministries Inc.

The camp, founded in 1965 by Arctic Missions members Russ and Freda Arnold, is deep in Alaska's interior, about 350 miles north of Anchorage and 200 miles west of Fairbanks. Each summer the camp hosts 30 to 70 weekly campers. Campers include Koyukon Indian and Inupiat Eskimo children and from third grade up to 12 {+t}{+h} grade.

CCC Pastor Dean Burris brought a team of 17 men to help remodel the camp, nestled on the banks of the picturesque and mighty Yukon River. The men spent their days sawing, hauling, nailing, tearing down dilapidated sheds, building friendships and fishing.

The missionaries said the experience was awesome, surreal, wonderful and glorious. They said they felt as if they were on holy land.

Some of the men shared that they learned anyone can participate in missions.

“All you need is an open heart and mind,” said one missionary.

Another missionary shared that he found Alaska to be unlike any of the lower 48 states. “It is remote and has a spiritual darkness that is indescribable,” he said.

The mission team included Travis Bowman, Dean Burris, Joel Burris, Nathan Burris, Josh Burrows, Brian Carter, Jack Casey, Roger Chastain, Chuck Foster, George Harris, Mark Jones, Rhett Lee, Toney Lee, Mike Loukus, Jeff Norris, Tim Poff and Russell Post.

CCC hopes to help The Crossing Church make the camp usable year-round. The Huntersville church plans to send teams of workers into native villages to assist the local pastors and missionaries and run weeklong Bible clubs.

CCC also plans to send a team to the Alaskan camp every year to help with camp work projects and perhaps serve as camp counselors during the summer. The church also wants to help provide Christian education for as many native Alaskan children as possible and send mission families to serve full-time in Native Alaska Villages.

For information about Christ Community Church, visit www.ccchuntersville.com.

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