Henry Yongue discusses a recent missionary trip to southeast Alaska. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
FOREST PARK — Years ago, some Christian missionaries considered Native Alaskan totem poles false idols and burned them.
Times have changed, said Jonesboro resident Henry Yongue, who spent a week in southeast Alaska in July. Yongue traveled to “The Last Frontier” with Grace Summit Pastor Chris Vaughn and Vaughn’s two children.
Yongue said missionaries now know that the poles are part of the Native Alaskans’ heritage.
“We helped them build a carving shed,” said Yongue. “And we had a chance to minister up there.”
Yongue shared the story of his travels during Wednesday’s Forest Park Ministers Association meeting at Grant Community Center. He said they brought everyday items with them, just in case.
“We didn’t know what we might find up there,” he said. “They had a lot of the same stuff we do but it cost a lot more. For example, where concrete might cost $100 a yard here, it’s $200 a yard up there.”
Aside from the 47-feet Bayliner boat they fished from, Vaughn said the living conditions were tough.
“They usually get 13 feet of rain every year but they’ve been in a drought so we could shower but not very long,” said Vaughn. “When the water was gone, it was just gone. It really made you appreciate what you have back home.”
Yongue said the fishing was good and that, too, was part of the ministry.
“We caught salmon and halibut, which were canned and sent to the tribe for a celebration,” he said.
Dr. Leon Beeler, president of the association, said Christians who do the Lord’s work should expect to be rewarded.
“These people who say they do for others and expect nothing in return are wrong,” he said. “That’s not what the Bible teaches. We can only reap what we’ve sown. If we sow to someone in need, then when you are in the season of need, you’ll reap your own time. There is always a return.”
Beeler acknowledged that during the Christmas season, sowing gets weary.
“You have to be careful because you can get weary,” he said. “What should you do if you get weary? You pray. Don’t get weary doing for others.”
State Rep. Mike Glanton, who is also a pastor and member of the association, said Christians should also be careful about what they sow.
“When you plant seeds of negativity, that will come back, too,” he said.
Glanton also asked the group to pray for the General Assembly as it returns to session Jan. 13, and he announced plans for the annual prayer breakfast Jan. 9 at Clayton County Sheriff’s Office.
Ann Singleton, chairwoman of the proposed charter Lions Club, reminded the group that they need two more members to complete the charter.
“We provide a lot of humanitarian services, hearing aids, vision screenings, diabetes awareness program and a guide dog program,” she said. “We have 18 members so far and need two more to be a charter.”