The Lord was not long in bringing answers to the young teacher’s question. One day while he was at the village store, one of the Eskimos came up to the teacher, “Would you like to go with me to the other village this weekend? It’s 100 miles by snow traveler.”
Without hesitation the teacher said, “Yes, I would like that very much!”
“OK, we will leave then early Saturday morning and return Sunday evening. Dress in your warmest clothes.”
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, the sun sparkling on the deep snow as they made their way up into the island’s backbone of small volcanoes. The teacher stood on the back of a dogsled fastened to the snow traveler. They were going to use the sled to bring back some walrus meat for Savoonga.
At one point the Eskimo made a sharp turn around an out cropping of lava, whipping the sled around so that it turned over and the teacher was thrown off. He scrambled up and stood to watch the snow traveler disappearing in the distance.
He shouted, but the noise of the machine made it impossible for the Eskimo to hear, so he began to run. But the snow was so deep and the air so cold that he soon gave that up and began to trudge along the tracks the snow traveler had made. He knew he was in trouble if he got stranded out here with no food, no shelter, no water.
Soon, however, the snow traveler came back into sight. The Eskimo had looked back, seen the empty sled, and turned back to get his missing passenger.
They arrived in the village of Sivukuk just at dark. The teacher was invited to stay with the public health nurse, a young fellow from Wisconsin, a farm boy like the teacher.
After supper the teacher asked the nurse, “What’s your philosophy of life?”
“I’m a born-again Christian,” he answered. “God brought me here to provide medical care for this village, and some for Savoonga when it’s needed. It’s almost like being a doctor, as I’m called upon the deal with many situations—delivering babies, stitching up bad cuts, taking care of gun-shot wounds. It’s challenging, but I love doing what God has given me.”
“Wow,” thought the teacher. “He has much more responsibility than I do, but I sense a power in his life that I don’t have. That’s what I need!”
The teacher knew the gospel very well, having grown up in a good, solid church. He had, in fact, accepted Christ as his Savior three times: when he was six, nine and fourteen. At age nine he began reading the Bible every day, starting in Genesis. He had a hard time making it through some of those Old Testament books, but plodded on, completing the whole Bible by the time he was twelve.
However, his belief was only intellectual, he had not surrendered to Jesus as his Lord. In fact, when he was sixteen, he had said to himself, “Christianity is the greatest theory there ever was—but I’m not surrendering myself to a theory.”
He went on to college where he continued to live as a Christian, avoiding all the pitfalls and evils of society at that time of widespread drug use and immorality.
Then in his senior year he seriously sought a philosophy of life and settled on helping people. Wanting to help other people gave him direction, and when he heard that the BIA would hire teachers without a teaching degree, he took the national teachers’ exam and applied. Then he packed up and rode his motorcycle from Connecticut to Alaska, where he was hired in Juneau and sent out to the island.
Now, here he was, faced again with the claims of Christ. He returned to Savoonga on Sunday with his Eskimo friend, pulling a load of walrus meat.
As soon as he got home, he got out a book that had been recommended to him, “The Taste of New Wine “by Keith Miller (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1966). It was the story of a Texas oil man’s search for a relationship with God.
Like the young teacher, the oil man had resisted surrender, but one day while driving along, he was overwhelmed with his inability to handle life. So, he pulled off the road and prayed a very simple prayer, “Lord, I give you my will and take yours in its place.” A complete surrender.
“That’s what I haven’t done,” said the teacher to himself, “but I will.”
He got down on his knees in that dark arctic December night and prayed, “Lord, I give you my will and take yours in its place.”
Nothing happened, so he to bed, not knowing that great change was waiting for him in the morning.
Pictures: on the way to Alaska and the trip back to Savoonga with a load of Walrus meat