Ministry women in Alaska often struggle more than the men. The rough challenge to hunt, fish, chop wood, and survive deep cold and darkness usually invigorates a man’s independent Alaskan spirit and connects him with like-minded men.
A white missionary lady disembarks from a small aircraft in a new and different culture that stands back from this newcomer until she earns the trust of the village people. No shopping malls, supermarkets, fresh produce, department stores, restaurants, or fast food chains greet or provide her with a break. The “roughing it” stage for some wears thin after the initial honeymoon.
Over the years, Arctic Barnabas women have reached out to encourage bush ministry women to persevere with the love of Christ. At our most recent retreat this April, two Barnabas ladies flew into Fairbanks to set up a retreat. God provided accommodations with two separate bedrooms, one for sleepers and one for night owls, an exercise room, walking trails, and a full kitchen.
Life in a remote village includes food prep from scratch, since a shopping trip to Anchorage usually comes only once a year. Most of these women homeschool their children and minister to families, hordes of village children, and other women. Their busy lives and the unpredictable April weather, make commitments to attend the retreat a last minute deal, which makes preparation tricky. The relaxed retreat schedule allowed for rest and connection with each other.
The Barnabas ladies arrived a day early to prepare gift bags and make physical and spiritual preparations. The retreat ran Wednesdayevening through Saturday. Some ministry women contend with food allergies and intolerances, but the Barnabas ladies made sure to prepare meals accordingly.
Each lady brought a craft to work on while they enjoyed girl time and each came from a remote village with a need for conversational encouragement with other women. They shared their hearts, struggles, tears, and love. They prayed together for strength, courage, and safety. God used this time away with other ministry ladies to strengthen them to return to their village and continue to share Christ’s love.