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Entries in Art Thompson (23)

Wednesday
Feb032016

January 2016

NOTE: to download the newsletter with pictures, click HERE!

Greetings, in the name of our Lord.

As we embark upon a new year we are encouraged that God has already provided us with new opportunities for the coming year. Winter is barely half over, and we already have several new projects scheduled for this spring and summer.

The year started out with VFCM being awarded a grant from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation's, Elmer H. Schmidt Christian Broadcasting Fund. This grant is designated to purchase the materials to renovate our studios and headquarters in Nenana. The facilities are over 30 years old and the buildings are in various states of disrepair. Two work teams have tentative plans to come up this summer to perform the needed repairs. This is such a blessing from God, as we are not able at this point to do anything more than keep the stations on the air.

We also have an unexpected opportunity to relocate a translator from a village where the population has dwindled to just a few individuals, to a village that has a population of nearly 900.

Normally the FCC would not permit this. However, since the new village has no other radio service at this time the FCC said they might allow it.

The current village has been virtually abandoned since the sole source of employment there burned down a few years ago. Due to the remoteness of the village and other factors, there are no plans to rebuild.

Please pray that the application for the move will be approved, and that things will go smoothly. We had applied for a translator license in the potential new location back in 2003, but the application was dismissed. The believers in that village are very excited that there could be another chance to have a Christian radio station there. We will keep you posted as to the progress.

We hope to visit as many of the translator locations as we are able this summer as well.

KIAM once again had a booth at the Nenana Christmas Bazaar. We did a remote broadcast from the bazaar and in the process we were able to test some new types of equipment that we put together to better cover indoor events within the village. The test was quite successful, and going forward we will be able to send a high quality remote feed from anywhere in town without using a phone line or a big outside microwave antenna.

We will also be able to broadcast the Nenana Gospel Music Festival this summer with even better sound quality and efficiency.

As always, we are so thankful to God for your faithful prayers and support. The impact you are having on some of the most remote and inhospitable places is significant. God's Word, and the good news of salvation in Christ is being proclaimed in even more places thanks to your partnership with us. To God be the glory!

Thank you, and may God bless you.

Art Thompson
VFCM Executive Director 

Sunday
Dec132015

November 2015

NOTE: to download the newsletter with images, click here!

Greetings, in the name of our Lord.

The Holiday season is now upon us. As we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, we praise God for His provision and grace. Most of all, at this time of the year we are eternally thankful for the provision of His Son as a sacrifice for the payment of our sin.

During this season of thankfulness and celebrating the birth of our Lord, we are working to use this time to point people who have no hope to the Savior.

Here at VFCM we have much for which to be thankful. God has been faithful to provide for His work in awesome ways.

Back in September we were in the process of obtaining a mortgage to purchase property that the ministry's founder had split off from the KIAM tower site. It was necessary for a variety of reasons for us to put the property back together.

During the course of applying for the mortgage, we had experienced numerous hurdles and delays. We were concerned as the closing date was approaching and we were still being delayed by the bank dragging their feet.

We now know that it was God that was delaying the loan. Less than a week before closing, we received an anonymous donation that made it possible for us to buy the property without taking out a mortgage. I can't tell you how good it felt to tell the bank (after all they put us through) that we no longer needed the loan. The amazing part about all this was how God worked it out so that not only did we not need the loan but we were able to make the purchase without depleting any of our reserve funds. The donation was in the form of publicly traded stock and, between the time it was donated and the time it was sold it had increased in value. In fact, it had gone up in price dramatically, so that along with several other donations the funds were almost the exact amount (within $500) of the total purchase price.

To add to that, the stock price declined to the previous level just after the shares were sold. Only God can do something like that! (Just ask any investor.)

God is just so amazing. We are rejoicing in what He has done and we are so encouraged that He will provide for His work.

We are also thankful for the opportunities that God has provided for ministry in the last few years. We got word that after the Iliamna translator went on the air, a church in Anchorage planned to purchase FM radios and distribute them to everyone in the village. The new FM in Nenana is reaching out to several villages where the AM station is difficult to receive at night due to interference. As well, we are getting feedback from the three other villages that now have new FM translators indicating that they are having an effect for the kingdom.

We have also had several personnel changes over the last year.

Mike and Valerie Arena, who were accepted as appointees last March, are still on track with their fundraising. Lord willing, they will be able to come on as full time staff by this time next year. Please pray for them as they work toward coming to the field. We are so short handed and it will be a great blessing to have them come on board.

We have also had several volunteers that are helping us this year, Kelsie Anderson and Debra Housmann have been working at KAGV in Houston.

LeRoy and Sarah Miller, after several years of deputation with VFCM have come to the conclusion that their ministry here in Alaska would be better served if they were independent missionaries. They will still help VFCM from time to time, but they are no longer pursuing full time service with us. Those who desire to continue supporting their ministry should contact them directly as they are no longer officially with VFCM.

In 2013 Dee Eldridge, the widow of VFCM founder Bob Eldridge, met and married Jim Miles of Port Angeles, Washington. Jim did not wish to relocate to Alaska so at that time Dee left the field and moved to Washington State to live with her new husband.

Normally, under those circumstances our mission's policy would have required her retirement. However, we decided on a trial basis to allow them to serve as representatives for the mission. Unfortunately, she has not been able to raise sufficient funds to cover her salary. Also, since she is not on the field, she is not able to devote enough time to direct mission work for us to be able to justify to the IRS her full time missionary status. As a result, the board of directors of VFCM has requested that she retire effective the first of the year.

Please be in prayer for Dee as she embarks upon this new chapter in life with Jim and their ministry in Washington and Oregon with the IFCA and Young Life.

I am also pleased to report that even though we have had some significant increases in our costs and expenses this last year, it looks like VFCM will be ending the year in the black.

Again, we thank God for His provision and we thank you for your prayers and support. While many of the teaching programs that we air are pleading for money at this time of the year to make up for some significant deficit, we are praising God for providing us with what is needed to accomplish what He has given us to do.

May God bless you richly this Holiday Season.

Art Thompson
VFCM Executive Director

Wednesday
Nov042015

October 2015

NOTE: to download the newsletter as a document, click HERE

Greetings, in the name of our Lord.

Our Fall season (which usually lasts about two weeks) has turned out to have been unseasonably warm. We were able to get our winter preparations completed with ample time to accomplish several additional tasks before hard winter sets in.

One of those tasks was to install the new translator in the village of Iliamna. This was the last of the four translator applications that we were granted in 2013 that we had to have on the air before their November 2016 expiration date. Praise God! They are now all on the air and well before the FCC deadline.

We have a number of winter projects that we hope to start on now that the installation of the new FM and the Iliamna translator are completed. One project that has been on hold for a while has been to finish installing the backup generators at KIAM and KAGV. We have all the equipment, it is just a matter of connecting it all up.

Please pray that God would provide the break in our "normal" workload to catch up with some of the maintenance work and get some of these projects completed.

Pray too, that God will call more workers to the field. That is actually our greatest need at this point.

Sometimes it can be hard to present a ministry that is working within the United States as a "mission". It can be difficult for some to grasp that we are ministering to a culture from the standpoint of us being the foreigners in their land. The cultural differences between the cities and the villages here in Alaska are far greater than what most folks would expect to exist in the USA. Rural Alaska is very much like a foreign field with many of the same needs.

Recently, the director of a mission that works primarily in Africa visited here and commented that rural Alaska does not seem to be substantially different than where he ministers. Other than that, people are not (usually) shooting at you. But then again, it can get really cold here.

Please pray that God will raise up a new generation of people with a vision for proclaiming the gospel in this vast and wild land.

God has promised that He would call people from every tribe and every nation to Himself including the tribes and nations here in Alaska. Pray too, that He will also raise up a new generation of Native Christian leaders.

As always, thank you so much for your prayers and generous support. Your partnership with us is having an eternal impact in the lives of rural and Native Alaskans.

Art Thompson
VFCM Executive Director 

Monday
Oct052015

September 2015

NOTE: download the full newsletter with images HERE

Greetings, in the name of our Lord.

As I write this, our short summer has come to an end. With winter at our doorstep we are scrambling to get everything finished and secured before the deep cold sets in. Looking back over the last few months I am amazed at God's provision and Grace.

He has allowed us to get the new FM station in Nenana on the air and we have received the final approval from the FCC with the grant of a new station license for the increased coverage.

A few weeks ago, an aviation ministry that operates here in Alaska contacted us and offered to assist us with the logistics of maintaining our translators in some of the remote villages that they fly into regularly. They also offered to fly us to Iliamna to install the new translator there this fall. This is a major answer to prayer as we lack the resources to regularly visit all of our installations and there are often several that are off the air until we are able to get out to them. We were wondering how we would be able to accomplish the Iliamna installation this year. Praise God, for His provision!

As someone said to me the other day, "God never surprises, but He always amazes"

On a different note, there is a situation that we want to make you aware of that we are trusting God will work out to his glory. I had alluded to it in in several previous newsletters, but have not gone into detail about it until we felt we had discerned God's direction and leading in how to proceed. So, here goes.

We have recently had to deal with an issue that was inadvertently caused many years ago by a previous board of directors and the founder of our ministry. It is one of those things that happens all too often, in that the founders of a ministry sometimes overlook the effect that a decision might have on the next generation of leadership. Or in our case, what might happen if the founding leader suddenly goes home to be with the Lord.

What occurred was, our founders acquired from the ministry a portion of the property that our AM tower sits on. Unfortunately, the only access to the property they acquired is through our antenna farm. The FCC requires that for us to transmit, only authorized station personal can have access to that area. Since there is really no affordable way to reroute the road around the FCC restricted area, we were faced with the choice of either purchasing their house or eventually shutting down our main AM station in Nenana. While there may have been other options, none of them would have been within our ability to accomplish or would have been biblical to pursue.

What we have decided to do is to purchase the property using a combination of a bank loan, reserve operating capital, and a generous donation from one of our directors. We had been praying over the course of a year for wisdom in how to deal with this situation, after Dee had informed us that she intended to sell the house and move to Washington State to live there with her new husband.

We feel that God has led us to the best solution and we are trusting that He will provide what is needed to accomplish it. While this is not the most opportune time for us to go into debt to purchase property, the upside is that we will have a place for our newest appointees to live when they arrive on the field.

We are trusting and praying that as God provides, we can retire the loan within a few years. As of this writing we still have a few more hoops to jump through with the bank, but we hope to close escrow by the end of the month.

I share all this not for the purpose of casting aspersions on anyone, as I am sure that the arrangement that was made back in the 1980's made good sense at the time. I feel however, that in the interest of transparency we have an obligation to share with you what we are doing and why we are doing it. As well, we covet your prayers in this decision as we move forward to position the ministry so that it will be able to continue, if the Lord wills and tarries, well beyond our tenure in leadership.

We have several other prayer requests that we would like to share with you as well.

Palmer Bailey, our station manager in Bethel has just had open heart surgery to replace a defective heart valve. His surgery was successful and so far his recovery is going well. Pray for Palmer and Bonnie as they go through this time, for God's comfort and healing.

Pray also for Mike and Valerie Arena as they raise support to come serve here at VFCM. Mike has many skills in the areas of leadership and administration and they both have an incredible heart to serve.

Kelsie Anderson, who was serving at KAGV in Houston (Alaska) for the summer is planning to stay on through to the end of the year. Pray that God will provide leading and direction for her next steps in life and ministry.

And most importantly, pray that the Holy Spirit will use the broadcasting of His Word and the truth of the Gospel to touch the hearts of our listeners and that our lives and witness will demonstrate God's love for them.

As always, we are so thankful for your faithful prayers and support. You play an important part in taking the good news of hope and salvation in Christ to a dark and needy part of our world.

Blessings,

Art Thompson Executive Director. 

Monday
May042015

April 2015

NOTE: to download the full newsletter with images, click HERE!

Greetings in the name of our Lord.

Spring has finally arrived in Alaska. The tripod that was placed on the frozen Tanana River last winter has gone out with the ice signaling the unofficial start of spring in the state. The snowbirds (both avian and human) are starting to return as well.

We are gearing up for a busy summer of activity and ministry outreach as we see God moving in providing the resources and opportunities.

We are planning to once again participate in the Nenana Gospel Music Festival. This is the third year of the festival and the third year that we have broadcast the event live. The first year the majority of the music groups were from the Lower '48. This year nearly all of the musicians and singers are from Alaska. Radio has been an incredible way to extend the reach of this ministry to the entire state of Alaska and beyond.

VFCM will be holding its Spring Board Meetings in Nenana May 8-9. It will be a special time of rejoicing as we celebrate 30 years of God's provision in broadcasting the gospel to rural Alaska.

KIAM in Nenana went on the air in June of 1985.

KYKD in Bethel had been off the air for some time before we acquired it in 1995, so this year marks the 20th year of a continuous gospel broadcast in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

KAGV in Big Lake initially signed on in 2004, however it was plagued with technical problems and suffered from flooding. The station finally began continuous broadcasting on August 8th 2005. Ten years ago. It seems like it was just the other day... That was my first time in Alaska.

We have several groups of short-term workers that have indicated that they intend to come up this summer to help us with several maintenance projects. We thank God for this blessing as we are stretched so thin that we often have trouble keeping up with things.

Kelsie Anderson arrived from Nebraska to serve at KAGV for the summer. It will be a real blessing to have someone at the station to help with on-air tasks and give a more live presence to the programming.

We appreciate all the prayers and encouragement we have received. Seeing God's Word proclaimed and lives touched by the truth of the Gospel makes it all worth while. However, we could not do it without your faithful prayers and support.


Thank you, and may God richly bless you.

Blessings in Christ,

Art Thompson
VFCM Executive Director