Blessed to be a Blessing3 min read

Faith Lutheran Church in Bridgeport had a team of five people serve on a “hammer-and-nails” project for Funny River Community Church, Alaska, on August 17–24. The team was made up of Tom Harris (who had previously served in Alaska on 2 other projects), Kathy Harris (previously served in Alaska on 3 other projects), Bill and Sandy Stroup, and Terri Buchinger (first Alaska mission).

Our home church supported us in every way possible (prayers, emotionally, financially). The week before we left, our pastor blessed us in front of the congregation and took a piece of cloth and ripped it in half (see picture). One half stayed on the altar at Faith, to remind our members to pray for our mission, and the other went with us. We put ours on the door handle in the church where we slept; every time we passed it, we prayed for our congregation and for the Funny River community.

During this project, we worked alongside some locals (Leroy S., Dar B., Mark S., Pat D., George W.) and a retired pastor (Frank Johnston). We helped sheet external walls, cut/built trusses, and cleaned windows. After building the pattern for the trusses, we got 13 of the 26 trusses built and all of the wood and gussets cut for the remaining trusses. The church opened its facility to host our team and the community fed us. Members of the church opened their homes to our team to learn more about their community.

Throughout the week, we saw God blessing us through community members being open to help with the project, other helpers, and non-members of the church who attended church with us on Sunday. We also got to see God’s creation up close (moose, bears, otters, reds…), develop friendships, and so much more.

This project wouldn’t have been successful without Jan Bruick and staff from Alaska Mission for Christ (AMC). They picked us up at the airport, arranged housing (at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Chugiak, AK) after our flight was delayed by four hours, and arranged for our car rental agency to stay open later for our arrival. God truly used everyone’s talents on this trip and we are very thankful for each and every one of them.

God is awesome.

L-R: Terri Buchunger, Bill Stroup, Sandy Stroup, Tom Harris, and Kathy Harris

Editor’s notes:

David Anderson from Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat was in Funny River, AK this summer. He met a group from Michigan that was on a mission trip to build a building for the local church. Anderson contacted the Michigan District, LCMS and said that this group was amazing—they were Jesus’ hands and feet on the ground. Later, the District learned that this was the group from Faith, Bridgeport.

Alaska Mission for Christ (AMC) is an LCMS ministry in its 31st year of serving in the country’s 49th state. Jan Bruick, AMC’s servant event coordinator, says that this summer they had 56 teams and 400 volunteers serving in Alaska. Four of the teams were from Michigan:

  • Faith, Bridgeport served in Funny River, AK with a building project.
  • Christ, Milford, served at Mt. Drum Lutheran Church, Copper Center, AK in VBS ministry. They have been doing this for 10 years. See related story here.
  • St. James, Montague, served for the first time in VBS ministry at the Fairbanks Native Bible Church in Fairbanks, AK.
  • Teams from Bethlehem, Good Shepherd, Holy Cross, and Peace in Saginaw as well as St. Peter, Hemlock have all served in Goodnews Bay, AK in VBS ministry. Last fall, a family from Goodnews Bay traveled to Saginaw and spent a week sharing their life story with area churches and Valley Lutheran High School. This year, led by Jan Rauschert, a team of 11 people from Good Shepherd, Saginaw and VLHS went back to serve in Goodnews Bay.

Additionally, the AMC missionary in Fairbanks, Nate Milan, and wife Sarah are both from Michigan. AMC’s Jan Bruick adds, “We are thankful for our Michigan District teams and co-workers in His Kingdom!”

Photos courtesy of Kathy Harris

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About the Author

Kathy Harris is a member at Faith, Bridgeport

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