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Entries in Art Thompson (10)

Thursday
Jul312014

July 2014

NOTE: To download the newsletter with pictures, click HERE

Greetings, in the name of our Lord.

The month of July began with a bang as KIAM participated in the second annual Nenana Gospel Music Festival. We were able to broadcast the event live throughout the State of Alaska on KIAM, KAGV, KYKD, and on all our translators and affiliates.

The event was held on a vacant lot right on "A" street which is the main Street in the center of the village. There were many people in town for the Fourth of July parade and other events which preceded the Gospel Fest. The Gospel was clearly proclaimed and this year the majority of the musicians and singers were from Alaska. The groups included several prominent Native Alaskan bands, and many of the musicians gave their testimonies as to how Christ has changed their lives. It was a great time of ministry and outreach especially as we were able to bring the event via radio to many remote villages throughout rural Alaska.

The Gospel Fest began as a vision six years ago to offer a family-friendly alternative to a Bluegrass Festival that was held every year in the nearby town of Anderson. In recent years, this Bluegrass Festival had suffered from a lot of drunk and disorderly behavior and an unpleasant atmosphere of drugs and vulgarity.

Three years ago God sent a couple to visit Nenana who organizes these Gospel Festivals as a ministry. They, along with several local folks and churches worked to put something together for Nenana. Last year, this ministry of outreach to our community and beyond became a reality.

Kelsie Anderson hosts the live broadcast from Musicians warm up as the town prepares to the second annual Nenana Gospel Fest. commence the Fourth of July festivities.

As for the Bluegrass Festival in Anderson? Last year the organizers of the event decided to discontinue it. They cited a variety of reasons, but we know Who's unseen hand moves and directs all things. All praise be to Him!

Another event we have covered is the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in Fairbanks. We interviewed a number of the athletes and were able to have a presence at an event that has great significance to Native Alaskans. Our prayer is that as we show interest in the life and culture of their people that God will give us the opportunities to show forth the love of Christ and communicate the good news of hope and salvation in Him.

We have been slowly working on getting the projects we had planned to get done this summer completed. We have experienced the wettest summer on record so far and the unrelenting bad weather has prevented us from getting as much accomplished as we wanted.The threat of flooding here in Nenana had also kept us occupied with moving items to higher ground and dealing with water under our buildings. Pray with us that the rain will stop and the rivers and ground water will go down. The two days of the Gospel Music Festival were the only days in nearly two months that it was bright and sunny with no wind and few bugs.

Lord willing, by this time next month we will be broadcasting in the village of Kalskag. This will complete the third of four translators that we were granted last year by the FCC. God has provided the resources to complete this project well before the FCC deadline for getting it on the air. The only remaining translator is in Iliamna and we are still looking for a suitable location for it. Be praying that God provides the necessary contacts and openings to facilitate this. We originally applied for the licenses over ten years ago, and many of the people we were working with at the time are no longer there.

We still have several of our existing translators that are currently off the air. We have all the necessary items to repair them, but we are waiting for logistics and weather to accomplish this. These are in some of the more remote and inaccessible places so we are trusting and praying that God will provide us with the means to get out there.

As always, we thank you all for your faithful prayers and support. Your partnership in this ministry extends the reach of God's word and message of salvation into lands that are truly at "the ends of the earth".

Thank you, and may God bless and encourage you as you serve Him.

Blessings,

Art Thompson
VFCM Executive Director. 

Thursday
Jul032014

June 2014

NOTE: to download the newsletter complete with images, click HERE

Greetings, in the name of our Lord.

Things here at VFCM have been quite hectic this month. Terrie and I have just returned from a trip to the lower '48 where we met with a number of churches and supporters and picked up a van load of donated building supplies. It was a great encouragement to meet with some of you and it is our hope to visit as many of you as we can in the coming months and years. We thank you for your prayers for VFCM over the many years.

We were only gone for a month and it is simply amazing how the foliage has taken over in such a short time.
Just as the plants and bugs know that the summer is short and accelerate their activity, we too are attempting to pack almost a years worth of work into just four months. Come June 21st the days start getting shorter and we begin to hear that voice in our mind whispering; "Winter is coming". By the time August rolls around, it becomes a shout.

Lord willing, we will be able to finish repairs to our transmitter building in Nenana and install the standby generator systems that were donated to KIAM and KAGV before the snow flies.

The KAGV power situation has always been a problem, with frequent power outages that last for several hours. Our previous generator caught fire last year and so we have gone off the air quite a lot since then. A replacement unit was given to us last month and a volunteer in Big Lake has offered to help us install it. God is so good...

At KIAM we have had a new (to us) generator for over a year, but the installation is somewhat more complicated so we have not gotten it online yet. Pray that God will give us the time and wisdom to complete that project as well.

The old KAGV generator after it "ran away" and caught fire.

It had failed to automatically start during a power failure when there was no one at the station. The next day a station volunteer manually started the generator at which time it severely malfunctioned. We never did find a reason for it not to have started the previous day, other than God had prevented it.

We are so thankful that God protected us from what could have been a significant disaster. The generator is only a few feet from the KAGV studio and without someone present to shut it down and extinguish the fire it could have burnt down the building.

 

Another project we are working on this summer is the renovation of one of our missionary houses. The house had sustained significant water damage from frozen pipes and has been sitting vacant for seven years. God has provided through the generosity of several folks, everything needed to complete the project and it should be done by the time winter sets in. This comes none too soon, as the only other house we were using is no longer fit for habitation and we have decided to close it down for good.

The housing situation in Nenana is something that has been a matter of concern for us as of late. On our other fields such as Big Lake there is an ample amount of decent housing for rent. As well, in Bethel through the generosity of our supporters we were able to build a nice duplex next to the station about ten years ago.

However, in Nenana there is really no decent rentable housing available. Nearly all the good housing is rented up by the school district or social services personnel and seldom comes up on the open market. What is left is quite substandard, being rodent and mold infested and often has been flooded out at some point.

When VFCM was founded in 1983, we needed quick and affordable housing for our missionaries. So, the mission obtained a number of 1960's vintage mobile homes which were then placed on our properties and added onto over the years. Unfortunately, after over 30 years of exposure to a climate for which they were never designed these "houses" are at the end of their life and cannot be salvaged. Out of the three mobiles we still have, one has partially collapsed, one is not far behind, and the remaining one was never finished or lived in due to its poor location and condition. So this leaves us with only one properly built house for our Nenana staff which, thanks to God's provision, we were able to renovate.

Do be in prayer for VFCM and our board of directors as we look to God for a solution to this problem. Just as we are trusting that God will send us more people to serve here, we also are trusting that He will provide a place for them to live as well. God's timing is always perfect and we know that He will supply what we need at exactly the time we need it.

On a personal note, June marks the one year anniversary of my appointment as the Executive Director of Voice for Christ Ministries. It has been a great honor and privilege to serve and to witness God do so many miraculous things during our time here. I look forward to seeing what God will do in the next year as he builds His church here in this great land.

One other thing that I wanted to mention is that all of our current administrative staff, myself included, serve as unpaid volunteers. We have retirement or other income that allows us to minister here. What that means is that the mission has no paid staff overhead that we need to fund. So, 100% of what you give to VFCM goes directly toward the operational expenses of VFCM, the stations, or the missionaries that you support.

As always, we thank you for your faithful prayers and support. It is such an encouragement for us to know that folks are praying for the people of Alaska and for VFCM.

Blessings in Christ,

Art Thompson
VFCM Executive Director. 

Wednesday
May142014

May 2014

 

NOTE: to read the full newsletter with pictures, click HERE!

Greetings in the name of our Lord,

Before we knew it, summer arrived here in Alaska. The ice has gone out on the Tanana River and the trees and fields all around us have turned green. With the possible exception of the mosquitos, we are so thankful for the renewal of life that this season brings to our part of the world.

As we began this season of busyness one of the foremost issues on our mind was the replacement of the base insulator that electrically insulates and holds up the bottom of the KIAM Tower. We had noticed that it was cracked last fall and although it had survived the winter storms and winds, we knew that we had to replace it ASAP or risk losing the tower and transmitter building.

The only problem was that we had no idea how we would do this. The tower is 300' high and weighs over 15 tons.

The task of lifting up and/or disassembling a 300' tower is expensive and dangerous; not something we really could or should have attempted ourselves. The cost of hiring a professional tower service company to do the work was well beyond what we could afford. We had several people offer to help with the project, but without professional guidance we were very nervous about embarking upon this task. So we prayed.

No sooner had the snow melted, God, in his perfect timing provided for this need. A friend of the ministry heard of our plight and put us in contact with a ministry called Towers for Jesus. They were preparing to depart for Haiti to repair a tower for a radio ministry there, but after seeing the photo of our insulator they postponed their trip for a week and came up to Nenana to perform the replacement. The only cost to us was their expenses and the parts.

God even provided this, all at just the perfect time. The tower crew found all the parts and materials laying around our property to build what they needed to lift the tower. We also received donations that covered most of the cost.

So, we are rejoicing in God's provision and are so thankful for everyone who prayed for this need. KIAM reaches a significant part of the central interior with the gospel, and this wonderful blessing is a powerful confirmation to us that God wants it to continue.

VFCM held our annual meeting on May second and third, and the board and staff had a time of fellowship and rejoicing in what God has done in the last year as well as seeking His direction for the future as we serve Him.

The month of May has also brought several comings and sadly some goings as well. One of our missionary families in Big Lake, Victor and Brandi LaMie have sensed that God is leading them back to Illinois and they will be departing for home around May 15th. We will miss them. Please be praying with us that God guides and directs them as they seek His will for their next steps in ministry.

This month as well, we had two volunteers come to Nenana, one for a week and one for three months. Lola Weinreis, who has volunteered at KIAM several times in the past came to spend a week with us and brought her friend Kelsie Anderson who will be serving at KIAM until August. We are trusting that the summer months will see God move in exciting ways as we trust Him to supply our needs and to show us opportunities to serve Him.

Do be in prayer as we seek to recruit new missionaries to serve with VFCM. As well, pray for those who have volunteered to help with some of our summer projects. God has blessed us with most of the materials and equipment to complete them, pray for schedules and weather to cooperate.

We have had some financial challenges as well, but God has supplied our needs as they have arisen and we are so thankful for the prayers and support of His people. A 19th century missionary by the name of Hudson Taylor stated that, "God's work done God's way will never lack God's supply". It has been such a privilege and blessing to to see God work in this manner as we seek to honor and glorify Him.

Thank you for your part in bringing God's word and His message of hope and salvation in Christ to the people of rural Alaska. May God abundantly bless and encourage you as you serve Him.

Blessings in Christ,

Art Thompson

VFCM Executive Director.

Tuesday
Apr222014

April 2014

NOTE: to download full newsletter with pictures, click here!

Greetings in the name of our Lord.

As we move further toward the days of 24 hour daylight and warmer temperatures it is awesome to see God at work.

The month of April has brought a number of new developments. Last October we received a call from the FCC telling us that they were ready to grant to us an AM station in Fairbanks and inquired as to if we still wanted it. This came as quite a surprise following on the heels of the four new translator permits. The original application had been filed in 2004 and was denied by the FCC in 2007.

We updated some of the information on the application and on April 8th the FCC granted VFCM a construction permit for the new AM radio station.

Quite a few of the native people from the interior villages have settled in Fairbanks or travel back and forth as this is where most of the native organizations are headquartered. Our station in Nenana reaches to Fairbanks, but not very well and it is difficult to receive it inside a building. Having a station in Fairbanks will allow us to better reach the significant native population that live and visit there as well as provide sound biblical teaching over the airwaves.

We have applied for the call letters KSDG; "to God be the Glory alone!" Pray for us as we work out the details and discern God's will for this new ministry opportunity.

Another blessing is that, Lord willing, our new translator in Aniak will be on the air by the end of April. This new radio outlet will be a translator of KYKD in Bethel and will broadcast a Yupik format from Bethel. The translator is being hosted by the SEND missionaries in Aniak. It will be exciting to see how God works in Aniak through this partnership.

In this month as well, God provided a new outboard motor to replace the worn out unit for KYKD's boat. Since there are no roads and air travel is expensive, the best way to get to the villages on the Kuskokwim river is to drive on the frozen river in the winter or use a boat in the summer. This new outboard motor will provide reliable transportation for the staff in Bethel to minister in the upriver villages such as Aniak and Kalskag.

As was mentioned in previous newsletters, we have upgraded our two 10,000 watt AM transmitters with a new power saving technology. We have also replaced our two vacuum tube FM transmitters with more efficient solid state units.

Well, the first electric bills are in since this upgrade and it looks like we will be saving a minimum of $10,000 per year between all our stations. Praise God! This will enable us to put those resources toward the added costs of electricity and internet charges for the new translators we are installing. Thank you to those who made these upgrades possible.

40 year old tube type FM transmitter at KIAM. Modern solid-state FM transmitter

Thank you again for your faithful prayers and support. We are continually in awe of God's provision and blessing. Blessings in Christ,

Art Thompson
VFCM Executive Director

NOTE: to download full newsletter with pictures, click here!

Thursday
Mar202014

March 2014

NOTE: to download the full newsletter with pictures, click here!

Greetings Dear Friends,

As we move into spring with its longer days and warmer temperatures, we are so thankful for the change of seasons here in the far north. Even though the thaw that we in Alaska call "Breakup" is still a month or more away, it lifts our spirits to finally see an end in sight to winter's icy grip.

Spring is also missions conference season and our two teams of representatives were busy recruiting and sharing the ministry of VFCM with students at Multnomah University and Cedarville University.

Jim and Dee Miles at Multnomah University. John and Pat Fenton at Cedarville University.

We are still trying to get out to Hughes to make repairs to our radio translator there, and we have just got word that our translator in Ambler is off the air. Pray for good weather and God's blessing and protection as we fly out to these remote villages. Pray also that God will give us opportunities to share the love of Christ while we are out there.

Ever since we installed the translator network, we have felt that it would be ideal to have the programming on the translators tailored to the culture of the people group of the region. Alaska is a vast land with over twenty different native languages. In each of the three areas we have stations, there are distinct and different people groups.

Unfortunately, it was cost prohibitive to lease three separate satellite channels to feed the various translators with unique programming. So up until now we have had all the translators fed by KIAM in Nenana, which has a predominantly Athabaskan Indian format.

In the last few months we have been testing a technology that can feed the translators over the internet. This has allowed us to use KYKD in Bethel, which has a Yupik Eskimo format to feed the translator in the Yupik village of Hooper Bay. It has worked so well, that we are planning to the feed the Yupik villages of Aniak, Kalskag, and Quinhagak from KYKD.

This is a huge blessing and an answer to prayer as we will be able to more effectively minister to the Yupik people with music and scripture in their native language. Coinciding with this, the entire Old and New Testament have just this year been translated into Yupik. While English is still the predominant language among native people today in Alaska, the number of fluent Yupik speakers in the western Alaskan villages is approximately 75%

This month we retired our last vacuum tube type transmitter and replaced it with a modern solid-state unit. The new transmitter was provided at no cost to the ministry. This will save electricity and since the solid-state unit needs no periodic adjustments it will lessen the work load on our staff. God is so good.

As our part of the world moves from the suspended animation of deep winter to spring and the all-too-short summer, pray that God will allow us to complete all the outdoor repairs and maintenance tasks that are on our list to accomplish this year.

Pray for our missionaries as well, that God will encourage them and meet their financial needs as they serve here.

Pray for the native people of Alaska, that the Holy Spirit will speak to hearts through the music and teaching we broadcast.

Pray for the villages, for more of God's people to answer the call and go to these places to live out the gospel and minister to the people there.

Even though Alaska is part of the United States, the differences between the major cities and the rural areas is much like the Third World. Many rural villages are dark and lawless places plagued by alcoholism, suicide, and domestic violence. Christ is the only lasting solution for the horrible conditions and despair that exist there.

These areas are largely out-of-sight and out-of-mind to the majority of Americans and even the majority of Alaskans. Pray that more churches will see the needs in this part of the world. (Below, a typical Native village.)

Village of Grayling city office and post office. Main Street, Grayling

As always, we are so thankful to God for your faithful prayers and support. Your involvement in this ministry is making a difference that will last for eternity.

Blessings in Christ,

Art Thompson
VFCM Executive Director 

NOTE: to download the full newsletter with pictures, click here!