Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 11, 2017

Beauty and Darkness

Alaska is beyond beautiful. Every time I visit I am captivated, or rather hypnotized, by the beauty of this great state. If it is even possible for God to show off, then He was undoubtedly showing off when He sculpted the mountains, scooped out the valleys, and traced the course of the rivers in Alaska. No matter which direction you look, God’s creative signature is everywhere to be seen in His magnificent creation in Alaska.

And yet, for all its beauty, there is a darkness in Alaska. Regarded as the least church-attending state in the Union, Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the country — nearly twice the national average. Suicide is the leading cause of death here for people ages 15 to 24. Beauty is not enough to stave off the despair that leads so many in Alaska to take their own lives.

Alaska is also home to the nations. Anchorage is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the nation. Beyond the diversity of the indigenous population, Alaska is home to peoples from all over the world. They are here along with their respective heart languages and world views. Alaska is a place from which Christ-followers can impact the nations.

Next summer, our Kingsland tenth-grade students will venture to Anchorage to engage with the indigenous peoples and the nations. Curtis Lane who serves on our student ministry staff, and I have come to Anchorage to meet with our ministry partner Scott Kirby of GraceWorks Alaska. Scott’s ministry mobilizes volunteers to do community initiatives throughout Anchorage and beyond.

I first connected with Scott a couple of years ago. He has a vision to reach Alaska. If you ask him about GraceWorks, he will tell you why they even exist. “Our goal is nothing less than to literally transform Alaska by winning new believers, growing disciples, and starting new gatherings of believers. We will not be satisfied until we see a remarkable, multiplying, Jesus Movement in our state.” That is a bold vision.

It takes someone with bold vision to do great things for the kingdom. Why settle for anything less than reaching the entire state of Alaska with the gospel. Scott understands that he cannot fulfill this vision alone. That’s why volunteer teams like ours are so important. We are committed to a long-term partnership with GraceWorks to help advance God’s purposes in Alaska. Only as people find hope in Jesus Christ will the suicide rate go down and the nations meaningfully connect with the God who loves them.

Alaska is a beautiful place. We are determined to add our voice to the chorus of volunteers who come here to serve each year. We want for the people of Alaska to see the beauty of Jesus and to understand that He alone offers us what no one else can. The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote that God has set eternity in the heart of man. Jesus alone can fill the void in our hearts and make all things beautiful.


  1. So encouraged to see these summer mission trips continuing. We won’t know, this side of heaven, the legacy and lasting impact of these trips, but I will always treasure the memories of seeing the KSM students have these experiences.

    • Amen, David. Love that our students continue to serve so many. Heaven alone will indeed reveal the full impact.

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