"Whoa, earthquake...big earthquake...," Steve uttered. Then the phone went dead!
It was 8:30 in the morning, November 30, 2018. On the other end of the line was InterAct missionary John Tramm.
“I’d been on the phone having a fruitful conversation with Steve Horsman, Alaska field director, when we were disconnected. After rushing to the living room to tell my family what happened, we prayed for God's hand of protection upon all those on the Lazy Mountain campus. However, when I finally connected by phone with Alaska teammate Jamie Roderick who also lives on the campus, he reported a casualty at his home — a wise man was down. Apparently, their Nativity set was disrupted by the quake.”
Jill Horsman recalls her white-knuckle experience that day,
Steve and I were in the campus office, when without warning, an explosive sound erupted, and everything began to shake violently. In the time it took for me to jump from my chair and move three feet to the doorway, things were crashing from shelves and walls. I saw ceiling tiles moving, every file drawer opening, and listened to the large building crackle and groan with the violent shaking. Part of the deafening noise was coming from the ground below. The other half came from the building itself! When the chaos all stopped, my hands continued to shake with the jolt of adrenaline.”
While this was happening, Matt Derr, a new InterAct missionary, had just pulled on to the campus and stayed in his car as it ferociously swayed with the movement.
“Staff soon gathered in the office, and we began to survey the damage.” Jill recalls. “Remarkably, all buildings seemed structurally intact, and many inside spaces unharmed. Yet other interior areas bore broken glass, shelf and wall items emptied to the floor, including food from kitchen cupboards strewn on floors and counters. Gratefully, when the tap was turned on, we still had clean, clear water. Others closer to the epicenter, had more extensive property and road damage —
but remarkably, everyone was safe!”
The hours immediately following the quake opened opportunities for the Lazy Mountain missionaries to trust in the Lord.
Jill states, “We prayed with our intern from Alaska Bible College. He was able to see how believers walk calmly through such an alarming situation without panic or fear, thanking God for the protection only He could give. This experience was a reminder that we are not in control. An earthquake comes in a moment with no warning, and there is no place to run for safety. Similarly, we have no warning for many of life’s crises and tragedies. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but God knows. He alone can provide us with eternal security and safe shelter against the shaking of life trauma.”
Trust in God’s provision and protection during the quake was also seen in the testimony of, Martha, a Native Believer.
Eight hours after having surgery, Martha was recovering in the Anchorage patient hostel when she was awakened when the building began shaking violently. Terrified, people stumbled to the stairs in nightgowns and slippers, assisted by canes and walkers. The elevators were not an option.
Martha paused wondering how she would ever manage stairs with her old weak legs. She prayed earnestly for the Lord's help and His protection.
To her surprise, a stranger began guiding her down the three flights of stairs and carefully out of the building into the snowy cold.”
Martha’s immediate call to her family living nearly an hour away, found them securely standing in their home amid broken glass and tossed wall hangings, but with a story of their own. Both her wayward daughter and unbelieving son-in-law expressed that during the quake their thoughts were turned to God,
and they had no doubt God was watching over them and protecting them.
They were right! God’s merciful protection was seen all throughout the region. Though roads collapsed, boulders struck vehicles, buildings caved in, and many cars began sliding out of control, there was not one fatality.
Our InterAct Alaska staff and missionaries continue to anticipate opportunities for God to reveal Himself to the least-reached peoples of Alaska through this earth-shaking life experience.
Pray for people like Martha’s children, that the reality of God’s mercy would truly be made real to them, and that they would look to Jesus as their only hope for salvation.
We thank our Lord for so graciously protecting staff and properties. And… we’re happy to report that with the help of some glue, the Roderick’s wise man has fully recovered.
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