While on staff at a church in Anchorage, I was sitting at my desk communicating via email to a graduated youth group member, the term Arctic Mercy whooshed through my mind. It was like a wind blowing from right to left, completely capturing my attention. With that term came thoughts of multiple vessels for outreach purposes through the Pacific Northwest and multi-million dollar budgets. This was the original seed the Lord gave us about what He wanted this YWAM expression to have. That was in 2002.
YWAM Arctic Mercy opened three years later with the help of Andy Byrd and a crew from the Maui base. We were generously hosted by Christian Community Church for our fledgling years. In 2012, the Lord provided a near 2-acre property with a 10-unit apartment building right in the heart of Homer. Since then we have remodeled the entire apartment building.
In April 2015, we had our 10th Year Celebration at which the Lord provided $18,000! With this we designed what is to be our main operating building, 4 cabins and a shop, and have gone through the process of obtaining all legal permits to build the entire campus.
The boat vision has been on the back burner since we purchased the property and had to put so much work into it. However, in January of this year (2017), during a meeting of two churches’ leaders and some of our leadership, God spoke to me saying, “I want you to believe me for both the building and the boat this year.” Because conversation was going on during the meeting with which I was involved, this caught me totally off guard and it instantly excited me! I quickly did the math and it totaled $1,050,000 ($300,000 for the boat and $750,000 for the main building.)
In March 2017, my wife and I were at a conference in Oklahoma and were having lunch with a reputable prophet. He wanted to know our story and I mentioned the word the Lord gave me about the building and the boat and he immediately said while pointing his finger at me, “You need to believe Him for $2.5 million!” I was just getting used to believing God for the $1,050,000. What’s another $1.4 million? We changed our prayers to believing for the $2.5 million. This amount will build the entire campus and the boat.
On April 18, 2017, I was having lunch with a friend who asked how I was doing. It was a day which had a combination of peace about the process, along with a bit of stress of what it means to “believe God” for $2.5 million. This is a number far larger than anything I have ever believed for! My friend was asking about the boat and while I was talking, he backed up from the table and pulled out his wallet. He drew a $1 bill from the pouch and said, “Here is the down-payment for your boat! I’m going to pray every day for the Lord to double it weekly until you have your boat!” I almost giggled at the offer, but the Spirit fell and convicted me that this was a Holy moment. I knew Father was involved with what just happened. I knew I had to put feet to my faith and take that $1 to the boat builder. The boat was already designed and the builder has been waiting for our payments to begin the work. The owners of the boat shop are YWAMers and they fully understand how God can ask us to do some pretty crazy things, so it wasn’t hard for me to take the $1 to them.
On April 25 the staff of YWAM Arctic Mercy took the first payment of $3 ($1 from my friend, and the second payment of $2 for the second week’s payment) to the boat builder. We wanted this to be a unified expression – not just something I had to carry the burden of alone. We were standing outside the boat shop and the owner came out to hear the story. The response was exactly what I expected: they knew this was a faith journey and they said they would believe God with us for the remainder of payment. That was 4 weeks ago and we made our payment of $32 this week. Next week is $64 and so on. It will be exciting to see what God will do with this!
We have taken our small steps of faith and now we want to invite you to partner with us in prayer and also in giving. At YWAM Arctic Mercy, we all will continue to sew into this faith project as we can. We want to see this boat in the water going to villages around Alaska. You can become a part of what God does through this boat.
Please prayerfully consider contributing to this effort and watch what God does!
Several years ago, I was talking with a village elder who told me, “I like that you come here on the boat.” We used the Alaska State Ferry system to get from Homer to Kodiak and then a smaller boat to get to his community. When I prodded him further about why, he shared a piece of wisdom I’ll never forget. He contrasted the difference between those who come by boat and those who fly in. He shared that he believes those who fly in come to visit and are not as interested in the people as those who come by boat. He felt that when people come by boat, they plan to stay a while and have a more genuine interest in “coming to be with us.” Not all villagers share this sentiment, but for some, it’s very real. We want the ability to have longer times to stay in a community and be able to practically serve them and get to know them. Having our own vessel will enable us to do this much more effectively.
The boat’s name, which we will be “Agghiti”, an Inupiat (the people group of northern Alaska) word for “something good is coming”, refers to the salmon coming to the rivers. When Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God, it was “Agghiti”, something good that was coming! For us it means people taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the communities while working to establish Kingdom lifestyles and activities.
This boat has the capacity to carry about 10,000 pounds of cargo and carry up to 10 people. It can sleep 7 and travel a distance of about 450 miles on a single tank of fuel. It is large enough to be safe on open water, but small enough to get in and out of most of the coastal communities. It is also powerful enough to get away from the storms which can suddenly appear is this area.
Please consider supporting what God is doing here in Alaska. Thank you!
Written by Scott Smith, Director of YWAM Arctic Mercy