By Jasmine Johnson
Returning to Alaska Christian College is like stepping on holy ground, said Pastor Brian Farka. Members of Alexandria Covenant Church have invested in this campus for multiple years. This June, 41 congregants served on the annual mission trip.
Smaller work groups were delegated tasks such as taking trees down, replacing a roof, painting a cabin, plumbing bathrooms, and doing other physically intensive grounds and building maintenance projects around the college’s 50-acre campus.
Sometimes, it may seem as though donating money would be more efficient than sending people out for short-term trips. However, Pastor Brian said it was the combination of fundraising and serving that helped these projects come to fruition. Each individual who went on the Alaska mission trip met or exceeded the fundraising goals and devoted the necessary time and energy to complete tasks. Fundraising covered the cost of building supplies, and volunteer efforts covered the cost of labor.
Everyone contributed by using their various skillsets. One woman’s gift was sewing, so she did so all week. Another individual, who had originally planned to be on thechainsaw crew, ended up being a shop manager because he was flexible and willing to plug in wherever he could serve.
This year was unlike any of the church’s previous trips, as individuals ranging from ages 15 to 80 worked alongside each other. The intergenerational experience of everyone working, playing and worshipping together was a powerful experience, according to Pastor Dave Mergens. There was always someone up and mingling — the night owls enjoying each other’s company in the game room and the early risers going on walks or sipping coffee — which created a constant communal atmosphere.
Looking back on the trip, Pastor Dave said he saw God at work through how He orchestrated all the details: Watching the team bond, observing the quantity of work completed, seeing everyone’s fundraising goals attained, experiencing beautiful weather as well as maintaining everybody’s safety and health.
Coming home to Alexandria after sharing this taste of service, the shared experience among these 41 church members will build a stronger desire to give back in the local community, prompting a renewed spark when they see each other at church services and events. These newly formed relationships have become ongoing reminders of the servant mindset and heart-set they had during the mission trip, bringing greater unity to the church body.