I’m a bit late with this post because both Barbara and I have the corona virus. It doesn’t seem to be too serious, but we both certainly lack energy. So here at 11 am on Sunday I’ll make this post.
Chapter 23 Revival on the Island
Both villages on St. Lawrence Island had a Presbyterian Church. My friend Sig was the pastor of both, and divided his time between the two villages.
Sig had a vibrant spiritual life himself and the Lord used him to bring a revival to the Island. Eskimos who were growing believers shot ahead in their spiritual lives, while those who had been weak made new commitments and unbelievers were swept into the Kingdom.
Although alcohol was banned on the island, it was easily smuggled in and drinking was a big problem as the Eskimos were quickly and powerfully affected by liquor. The revival helped some who were caught in the habit to stay sober.
Edward, the husband of Ora, the kindergarten teacher, began to compose original hymns. He had taught himself to play a small organ, and now pecked out new tunes to go with the words he’d written in Eskimo. He was prolific in this ministry, encouraging the believers in their revitalized faith.
I was sad to hear some years later that Edward had frozen to death on the trail when his ski-do broke down during a big storm.
The island actually had had a reasonably long history of spiritual input, starting in the early 1900s, so the majority of Eskimos were church attenders, if not believers. The shamanistic practices continued, but were followed by only a small minority.
One Eskimo who was born in 1890 told me of how he had come to the Lord. “I was raised in Siberia,” he related. “It was a beautiful land with high mountains, great forests, and many animals.
“Our leaders there were the shamans who had great power and could do miraculous things. They could stab themselves, put their hand over the cut and when they took it away, the place was healed. They could play a drum and cause a tiny fox to appear which would run around the rim. They could fly and they could put curses on people.
“They were the ones who communicated with the spirits–now we know that those spirits were demons. They told us that they had created the world, but even as a young person, I could not believe that.
“Many of the things the demons did and told the shamans to do were ugly and cruel. How could such ugly beings have created such a beautiful world? I thought that there must be a good creator God who is as beautiful as the world he has made.
“Then when I was in my late teens, I went with a hunting party to this island. Here I met a believer who opened his Bible and told me about the God who had revealed himself to us.
“As he told me more about God, I said to myself, ’Aha, this is the true and good Creator God I have been looking for,’ and I became a follower of Jesus Christ.” And here, in his 78th year he was still faithfully following Christ.
God is at work everywhere to bring the message of life to those who are searching. We later found out that many Eskimos in Siberia were being drawn to Christ during the time when I was on the island. The Christian radio station in Nome, KICY, had an Eskimo program which was beamed towards the island, but it also went beyond to the coast of Siberia.
On this program the Eskimos sang songs about Jesus in Yupik, explaining the gospel in a way which the Soviet Communists could not understand and therefore they did not jam these broadcasts.
After the fall of communism in the 90s some of the Eskimos, along with Dave Shinen, went over to Siberia and found the Eskimos there ripe for the gospel. God is faithful to reach those who want to know.I went trapping with Edward for white foxes; it was 50 below zero