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The Next Chapter InterACTION - Fall 2021

By Dale Smith

As an impressionable young missionary candidate on a road trip with InterAct founders John and Nadine Gillespie, I was captivated by their intensity and passion. Their call from God for the unreached peoples of the North exuded from every part of their conversations. At that point, John had led InterAct Ministries, then Arctic Missions, for over 35 years. His leadership and vision to reach the peoples of Alaska and Canada left an indelible mark on the organization, both then and today.

This year we celebrate 70 years of ministry God has given InterAct. The first three issues of this year’s InterACTION sought to provide a snapshot of what He has done in each of our fields. Each newsletter highlighted InterAct’s early history as the ministry grew from Alaska into Canada and eventually across the Bering Strait into Russia. In the winter edition, former executive director, Gale Van Diest shared a glimpse of the life he and his wife Jean experienced in the Alaska bush. Spring had a view of church planting and discipleship ministry through the eyes of a Canada First Nations pastor. In the summer InterACTION, we crossed the Pacific Ocean to Siberia, where former executive director, Gary Brumbelow, reviewed the history of our most recent field.

Each of these stories is a look in InterAct’s rear-view mirror. God has used His faithful workers to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to a host of difficult places. These newsletters, a few short pages, only scratch the surface of countless stories of gospel transformation we could share. They include plodding, heartache, frustration and loss, but the hope and joy seen in lives impacted for eternity! A glance backward allows us to review our stones of remembrance so we can live assured of God’s faithfulness in the years ahead.

Today, as in years gone by, the vision of InterAct is to share the hope of the gospel with the people we serve. Our missionaries live in host communities seeking to grow reproducing disciples. In keeping with our values, our staff strives for a ministry of presence among Alaska Native, First Nations, ethnic peoples of Siberia and other target communities. They enter into the lives of the broken and hurting, lives shattered by the effects of sin, bringing the hope of the gospel. Like the Apostle Paul, they rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).

Reaching all those in need of the gospel in Alaska, Canada and Siberia is far beyond our means. Even so, our confidence is in the Lord of the Harvest. We have great hope as we watch Him bring choice young people our way to be part of our corporate missionary calling. We rejoice in all He has done over the past seventy years, but we are far from finished. Our calling stands—to multiply disciples who share the gospel with a lost and broken world.

Our future is the young men and women of God who answer the call to serve the least-reached. This edition of InterACTION highlights some of our newest missionary staff. These folks are a picture of the quality people God is bringing our way, lives ready to take the hope of the gospel to a needy world.

Aaron and Tisha Dalton (Grayling, Alaska) are now serving in the same area of Alaska described by her grandfather, Gale Van Diest, in the Winter 2021 InterACTION. Their interview radiates the same kind of passion for the people of bush Alaska that marks the heart of their grandparents.

Brooke Wortham (Calgary, Alberta) has recently arrived in Canada and is already enthusiastically engaged as part of the ministry team established to disciple First Nations youth of western Canada. She brings a heart to serve and a sensitivity to the needs of the generation following close behind her.

Micah and Georgianna Costanzo (assigned to Siberia), our newest missionary appointees, are actively raising support. They both model a commitment to the Great Commission not frequently seen. They come to us with previous cross-cultural experience and we are confident God will use them in fresh ways.

InterAct is teeming with missionary staff younger than me, which becomes easier to say every year. It is only a glimpse of the people God has chosen to send our way. Along with other young coworkers, they represent InterAct’s future. God continues to call new workers. Why should we be surprised? He is the Lord of the Harvest, after all! We can say with confidence that He has called us to go in His harvest fields. He has also called us to pray for workers for His harvest. By prayer, we win the battle! Will you join us in petitioning God for needed workers, a request He delights to answer? Will you pray for financial resources to send them?

Forty-three years have transpired since that backseat journey with John and Nadine Gillespie, and everything since is now history. By the grace of God, passion like theirs still moves our ministry forward. In this next chapter, will you join InterAct in the call to reach the lost across Alaska, Canada and Siberia?

Dale Smith, Executive Director

The Next Generation

Status: Missionaries Ages: 27 and 30 Ministry: missionary pastor, outreach (Village Missionary)

Interview Question 1: What has been your most meaningful experience on the field?

During our first year in the village, the tribe approached us and asked us to house a few kids. It was only for a few days until they worked out the kids’ housing issues. We took the situation seriously and looked back on several things that impacted us from it.

First, we had the privilege to share Jesus’ love with the kids by giving them a place to stay and for the community to see us do that. Before we decided to help, we prayerfully considered it and were advised by a mentor to get a clear statement of support from the tribal group. We were so glad we received their support and much more. One of our close friends out here went as far as to say that if we had any trouble, we could tell people to talk to her instead of us.

It surprised us that the village trusted us that much this early in living here. While we looked after the kids, it was a sweet yet challenging time. We had the opportunity to share Bible stories with them before bed every night, pray with them, and go on some walks. The youngest had an understandably hard time with it all, and Tisha was getting exhausted from the late nights of helping her calm down. Our close friend encouraged Tisha, pointing her back to the Lord for her strength. What a blessing to be ministered to by the people we moved out here to serve!

Interview Question 2: Is there a verse of scripture that you lean on during hardships?

This summer has been difficult. There have been many funerals in Grayling and the surrounding villages, and some weeks we attended multiple funeral events. Funerals out here typically last four days with a lot of traditional practices and community involvement surrounding them.

During this time, Proverbs 3:5-6 kept coming up. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will set your paths straight. It reminded us to trust in the Lord no matter the circumstances. It does not matter if we understand why something happened or not. We know that God is still in control, He knows what He is doing, and we can trust Him despite our lack of understanding. He doesn't call us to try and make sense of it but rather acknowledge Him and follow where He leads.

Interview Question 3: What would you tell someone praying about becoming a missionary?

If you have considered becoming a missionary, walk forward in that direction as you continue to pray for the Lord’s leading. As you’re going through this stage, pray and think about why you are going. When you’re out in the field, there will be days where you will need a substantial and grounded answer to the question, “why am I here?”

When we prayed about where the Lord was calling us, we had doors open wide and stepped through them in faith to see what was there. When the door opened for Grayling, we took the chance to visit and meet people in the village who were excited about the idea of missionaries returning. We felt a confirmation to continue to pursue that direction.

Even though we had delays in fundraising, moving, and COVID-19, there was always an open door. A few weeks before our move, we learned that only residents could come into the village because of their cautious lockdown. We then heard that someone spoke on our behalf before the village council to get a letter of exception for us. Even right to the hour before we were flying out to the village, we had to wait for our COVID-19 tests to come back negative before we would be allowed to enter. We got the negative test results just as we hopped on the plane.

Status: Missionary Age: 28 Ministry: Urban Fire

Interview Question 1: What life experiences has the Lord used to prepare you for ministry?

That’s a difficult question to answer. The more I reflect on my life, the more I see the Lord’s hand guiding me to the mission field. One particular experience was a few years ago during my EnGage! internship with InterAct. That summer, God completely transformed my definition of ministry, realizing that life is ministry. Every day is an opportunity to serve the Lord. It is not only when we volunteer at church or the local food bank. I now wake up every day and say, 'Okay, God. I am here today; what’s happening?' God can use anything in my life, even something as random as a board game to build relationships and love people well.

Interview Question 2: How have you been preparing to communicate the gospel more effectively?

I have researched how to communicate the gospel to different worldviews. It gave me a deeper understanding of how the gospel transcends all cultures, speaking to the heart of the human condition. It touched me deeply when I learned how to share the gospel in an honor/shame culture as someone from an honor/shame culture myself.

Interview Question 3: What are you praying for in your ministry in the next five years?

I moved to Canada in August. I’m praying for God to show me the communities and relationships I need to build in this season. My team primarily works with First Nations young adults as they transition from the reserve to Calgary, supporting them practically and spiritually. People are unable to stay in the same place forever, and transitions are crucial to growth. It was a part of God’s design from the beginning. We come alongside young people in the middle of significant life changes, such as graduating and moving into adulthood. It is an incredible opportunity to share the truth of God’s Word in their lives.

Status: Appointees Ages: 21/30Ministry: Fundraising (both)/working with Afghan refugees (Georgie) right now, heading to language learning and evangelism/discipleship in Siberia next year.

Interview Question: When did you first feel called to cross-cultural missions?

Micah: I always knew I wanted to be involved in full-time missions, ever since I was young. I just didn’t know where the Lord wanted me to serve. I started praying many years ago, and the Lord stirred my heart with a love for Russia’s language, people and culture.

Georgie: I got roped into taking a Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class in early 2016. I was blown away by the biblical basis for missions, but I maintained that I wasn’t called to missions until several weeks in when the speaker read the Great Commission to us and declared, “There is no call… we’ve all already been called!” The Holy Spirit convicted me right then and there to surrender my ‘lack of call’ excuse and to walk in obedience to the Scriptures’ call to share Jesus with the nations.

Timeline of InterAct Ministries

God has been faithful to us over the years. Here are some of the key moments God used to bring His message to the North Pacific Crescent.

Will you partner with us to bring the hope of Jesus Christ to the North Pacific?

InterACTION is a publication of InterAct Ministries

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Dale Smith
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