One day when they remained at home to rest, Okfagit put on his snowshoes and went out to check for game. He crossed an area he knew had a valley, but it seemed to be completely filled in with snow, leaving a flat level surface.
He confidently moved across it, but suddenly felt the snow give way under his feet and he fell into a deep hole. The sides were steep, and it was over ten feet to the top. The snow had filled in the valley except for this spot in the very middle, then the drifting snow had covered it over, leaving this pit.
He sat a while, getting over the shock of his fall, and then prayed, “Lord Jesus, here I am without help. No one knows where I am, so I turn to you. You are my boat captain, help me.” As he sat thinking he looked up and there was the shaman looking down at him.
“So, Okfagit,” he said, “you have abandoned the old way and now the spirits have punished you. I cannot help you or I would be working against the spirits, and I cannot do that. You are doomed and I leave you to your death by freezing!”
Okfagit called after him, “This may be from the spirits, but my Jesus is more powerful than the spirits. You will see how he will help me.” Then to himself Okfagit said, “And I wonder how he is going to do that!”
Then an idea came. He took off a snowshoe and using it as a shovel began to tunnel into his snowwalled prison. As he dug, he angled the tunnel upward. After half an hour’s work he stopped to rest. He knew he had to be careful not to sweat.
In another hour of digging through the windpacked snow, he broke out on the surface. He climbed out, sat down to put on his snowshoes and stood to praise Jesus for giving him the idea. Then he set off for home.
The next day as he went out into the village, he was greeted with surprise by everyone he saw. The first person he met informed him that the shaman had told them all that the spirits had trapped and killed Okfagit because he had abandoned the old way and had gone off after Jesus.
To each person, Okfagit briefly related how he had prayed to Jesus and had gotten the idea to dig a slanted tunnel out of the pit, something no one had ever done before. Most people saw this as the power of Jesus to protect and provide.
Okfagit could see how more and more people were considering the new way. When he talked with his family about it, Ayit said, “Yes, father, as you have added endurance to your obedience, you are showing the power of God. And with this I see that you are now adding is godliness, reacting like Jesus. You did not condemn the shaman or curse him. You didn’t even accuse him. You understood why he said and believed what he did. Your godliness will help people see the goodness of Jesus!”
“Ayit,” said Okfagit, “I believe you are adding godliness yourself. Thank you for sharing those thoughts. We will continue to endure and try to be godly.”
A week had not gone by when one of the elders came to visit Okfagit and his sons. After drinking tea with them and discussing hunting, the elder said, “The people are talking about you, about how this Jesus, the son of Apa, is helping you and protecting you, providing for you.”
Then the elder sighed and said, “But I must also tell you that the shaman has put a curse on you. He is calling the spirits to attack you in some way. I hope your Jesus is strong enough to protect you.”
Okfagit smiled a gentle smile. “This Jesus is the one who created the sun and moon, the seas and the mountains, the whale and the fox. He already defeated the spirits when he rose from the dead. I will not fear them even if they attack me. I will take shelter in his love and power.
“In his message to us, Jesus tells us that even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, he will be with us, he will protect us, and we need not fear. This protection is what I experienced in the valley where I fell through the snow and faced death. And it is what I will experience in the future!”
The elder sighed again and smiled. “May your God be stronger than ours,” he said as he got up to go.
Picture: Home made Eskimo snowshoes and hunting bag from Okfagit’s people.