“One thing they prayed for was that God would send another missionary like Mr. Campbell to help them. Finally, in 1934 the answer to their prayer arrived on their shore. A US Coast Guard cutter came by for a visit and had on board a nurse, named Ann Bannan. She was actually headed to a different village, but when she came ashore with the sailors, and met some of the Christians who told her of their prayer for another missionary, she took this as God’s calling and decided to stay.
“She was known as the praying nurse and stayed eight years, leaving only because the US government told her had to leave in 1942 because of the danger of a Japanese invasion of the island.
“She entered into the social fabric of the village, caring for medical needs, comforting and encouraging people. She especially supported the little prayer band of men who had prayed her to the Island. One non-Christian researcher said she was, ‘remarkably effective.’
“Around 1940 the Yukon Presbytery sent a pastor to baptize the believers in Sivukuk and Savoonga, and to form an official church in each village.
“This was followed by several spectacular conversions. In one case, a hunter was out alone when a severe storm descended on him. He was disoriented and cried out to Jesus for help. Shortly thereafter he stumbled upon an old trapping cabin and spent two days there waiting out the storm.
“When the storm was over, men from his village came out to search for him, expecting to find him dead, but he was very much alive. Crediting Jesus for his survival, he surrendered himself to God, accepting Jesus as his Savior.”
“So, he was saved twice! Once in the storm and once for eternity!” said the teacher.
Ayit smiled and continued his story, “In another case an older man died. They had to wait three days for his brother to arrive before they could bury him. And a good thing, for on the third day he came back to life!”
“What?!” said the teacher. “Is that possible?”
“It must be possible because it happened,” replied Ayit. “After coming to life again, this man told all that he had experienced after dying. At first, he was unconscious, but then he woke up outside the house. It was night and all was very calm with no wind, only a few stars for light.
“He said he walked along and came to a river. Someone ferried him across, and when he got to the other side the grass was very tall, not at all like the stunted grass of the tundra. There in front of him were two paths, one wide and hard-packed, one narrow. He chose the narrow one, and as he was walking along, he met his deceased aunt.
“‘Come,’ she said, ‘you are not going to reach the light now. You are going back where you came from.’ She turned him around and took him back to the river, which had shrunken to a small creek.
“When they got to his house, there was his body lying there, but it was very dirty, in fact filthy.
“‘You need to raise your hands to heaven and pray to Jesus so he will save you and you will no longer be filthy!’ said his aunt, then added, ‘You will come back to life, then after five years you will die for good.’
“And, so it came to pass. The man surrendered himself to Christ and walked with him the next five years until his second death.”
“That’s a true miracle, just like what Jesus did,” the teacher commented.
“That’s because Jesus did it,” said Ayit. “Another man named Wongitil was at summer camp in 1940 when his son became very sick with whooping cough. The boy kept telling his father that Jesus would heal him. And he was healed! That impressed his father greatly.
“On the same day Wongitil lost his dogs and searched for them, but in vain. Then he had a dream in which he went to the top of a small mountain, and there he saw a verse, 1 Peter 3:9, ‘Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.’
“The next night he had another dream in which he had gathered his family around him in a circle. He had his Bible in his hand and planned to read to his family and have them all pray together.
“Suddenly he heard a voice behind him, ‘You are now a Christian. Your fellow Christians will come and help you!’ The next day he left to go to Sivukuk and on the way met three other dog teams which were coming to help him. What the voice had said came true! Wongitil concluded his story by saying, ‘From that time on I always trust the Lord!’”
“Those are really impressive stories,” the teacher said, “Tell me, for you Eskimos, how was the New Way of Jesus different from the old way?”
Ayit smiled, “Let me answer that with what happened some years later when an anthropologist came to Sivukuk and sat with a group of us older men.”
To be continued….
Picture: Eskimo hunter like the one caught in a great storm