Pastor Carl Lilienkamp and his wife, Darlene, returned to Arapahoe on Sunday, April 7th to once again spread the Gospel to Trinity Lutheran congregation and to tell their story of reaching out to others in Alaska.
Pastor Lilienkamp and Darlene served Trinity Lutheran Church in Arapahoe from January 1988 to October of 2004. Following their time in Arapahoe, the Lilienkamp’s relocated to Wayne, Nebraska and in 2016 Pastor Lilienkamp went to half-time status. The couple first visited Alaska as tourist. Following the trip they knew they wanted to return and serve the Lord.
They now have a passion to serve the Lord in Alaska, working with “Alaska Mission For Christ”, a mission organization through The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The Lilienkamps drove the 1,700 miles along the Alaska Highway to serve native Athabaskan people. The Alaska Mission For Christ is the mission group of 13 Alaskan congregations of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Volunteer share the Gospel and love of Jesus through Vacation Bible School programs, sport camps, work and witness projects.
According to their website alaskamissionforchrist.org, there are long and short-term events for volunteers. Long-term consists of three months or more while short-term is a commitment up to 10 days. In 2019, there were 39 teams with 387 volunteers serving 35 communities throughout Alaska on short-term mission opportunities.
Pastor Lilienkamp and Darlene had their worries about Alaska including the weather, isolation and fitting in, but as Pastor said, all their worries were pointless as the Lord God blessed them and they learned from the people of Alaska.
When in Alaska and volunteering for the mission group, Pastor Lillienkamp and Darlene, greeted other volunteers at the airport, aided them as they began their mission work and also made contact with young people at school and held Bible studies along with beginning new relationships with the people. Darlene noted that a school may have 16 or so registered students, but on any given day maybe only six or seven students were in attendance.
One of the goals for the Lilienkamps is to build relationships with the people of Alaska and that was evident as they both talked with a fondness for people they have met. During his sermon during Sunday church service, Lilienkamp talked about relationships with the Alaskan people who have aways been generous, kind and welcoming to Pastor and Darlen. One such person whom Pastor Lilienkamp developed a relationship with, told him prior to heading back to Nebraska, “the most important thing is to keep Jesus in your heart.”
Darlene showed an example of bead work that the Athabaskan people are famous for and are very proud of. She also noted that instead of saying goodbye to the Lilienkamps they say “see you again.”
Pastor Lilienkamp said that the summers in Alaska are beautiful but the winters are magical and through the delight in his and Darlene’s telling of their time in Alaska, it is quite evident that their passion for the Alaska people is a witness for everyone as they serve Jesus Christ.