WBU team serves fishermen in Alaska 

July 29, 2011

While the summer months in West Texas have been hot and dry, the fish are still running in Alaska. Specifically, Kenai, Alaska. That’s where Wayland Baptist Student Ministries Director Donnie Brown led a team this July to take part in a service-oriented mission trip.

The group participated in an annual outreach event that is coordinated by Brenda Crim, a missionary with the North American Mission Board. Originally from Texas, Crim has spoken at several of the conferences that Brown has attended and has asked for volunteer teams.

Wayland’s eight-member team left July 12 to work with other teams from various states, meeting the needs of those fishing for salmon on the Kenai Peninsula.

“Each July, for three weeks, the salmon are running,” Brown said. “People are allowed to come out to the peninsula and catch their quota of fish for the year.”

Brown explained that only Alaskans are allowed to fish in the area. The head of each household is allotted 45 fish along with 10 for each dependent. Brown said fishermen use large nets, maybe four feet in diameter, lower them in the water, catch some fish, drag them on shore, then club them on the head and go back for more. Others will actually clean the fish on the spot, then throw them in a cooler. All the fishing action is strictly monitored by game wardens and officials to make sure Alaska residents are the only ones fishing the area during the run.

“We couldn’t handle anything that had anything to do with fishing,” Brown said. “We couldn’t even help them carry their coolers.”

What the team could do, however, is meet other needs of the families, such as serving hot dogs and hot chocolate, providing hand sanitizer, cleaning the beach, directing traffic to assist with congestion, and leading afternoon worship groups for kids who otherwise had nothing to do while waiting for their families to catch their fish. All of this, Brown said, was done with “no strings attached.”

“It was servant evangelism,” he said. “We wanted to demonstrate God’s love. We were there to serve them, meet some needs and through that show Christ.”

Brown said the group was not bent on sharing the Gospel with everyone they met.

“If we had the opportunity to share verbally, we would,” he said. “But we just wanted to show that there are people out there who do care. It was a powerful testimony to them.”

Brown said one man simply couldn’t believe the group was there to serve without asking for anything in return. He continued to talk with people associated with the group and at one point made mention of the Alaska missions hat that Brown’s son, Joshua, was wearing. When Josh gave him the hat, Brown said it made an emotional contact with the man.

“That was a seed that was planted. I don’t think he will forget what was done for him,” Brown said. “Before we went on the trip, the eight of us prayed that God would let us serve and plant seeds.”

Not only did the trip give the group an opportunity to serve others, but also Brown said he hopes it makes an impact on Wayland students.

“How can we transfer this back to campus?” Brown said. “How can we meet the needs of our fellow students, roommates and classmates? We want to look for those needs and demonstrate the love of Christ to those around us.”