Changing People's Lives
Junior camp seriously changed my life.
I remember when I was 8 years old and I couldn’t go to “junior camp” (as Camp Polaris is known to the locals), because I was too young. I went there to drop off my older sister and cousin, and when I had to get back in the boat to leave, I started crying. I wanted to stay at camp so bad with all the other kids! They were having fun, there was structure, there was this vibe . . . and I wanted to be a part of that!
When I turned 9, I finally got to go to camp, and I absolutely loved it! I went every year, all the way to age 16. While I had many experiences at junior camp, one that really stands out happened the summer I was 14.
We were all in the cabin, and some of the guys wanted to tell ghost stories. It was about 12:30 in the morning, and I told them that I just wanted to go to sleep, but they started telling ghost stories anyway. Our counselor was asleep, so he didn’t know what was going on. After a while things started getting really eerie. One of my good friends was sitting in the corner very quietly. After the last ghost story was told, he jumped up and ran to the other side of the cabin where I was. The only beam of light that was showing through the door was shining right by my bunk, and he wanted to be there beside me. “Chad,” he said, “I don’t know what happened, but I’m really scared—something happened to me.
I was also frightened and said, “Let’s get a Bible!” I started reading the Bible to him, and another friend joined us on my bunk, saying that he was scared too. I continued reading Bible stories, but I could see that my friends were still scared, so I asked, “Jim, do you have a Bible?” He said that he did. Not knowing what else to do at that point, I told him to open it up and place it on his chest. I continued reading Bible texts, but they were still spooked, so I suggested that we go outside.
Angels on the Mountain
By the light of the moon we could see Lake Aleknagik and the huge mountains all around us. As I looked up at those tall mountains, I remembered a Bible story that I had heard as a kid—the story about Elisha’s servant being so afraid when they were surrounded by the enemy, Elisha prayed that God would open the eyes of the servant. Remembering that story, I suddenly blurted out to my friends, “You guys, look! Look at the mountain line! All the angels are on this mountain!” You could just see my friends calming down. We went back to the cabin and fell asleep.
The next morning, I felt so humbled that God would have actually used me to help others. I was telling myself, “I can’t believe that I was a part of that—I’m too young for this.” But looking back, I realize that’s where God started working in me, at that moment, at Camp Polaris. It was at there at Camp Polaris where, in spite of Satan trying to scare us into thinking that he had power even at a Bible camp, that God conquered that night.
The staff at Camp Polaris influenced me too. One day a staff member named Monica said, “Chad, you have a nice voice. You should sing.” Nobody had ever told me that in my life. It’s because of her affirmation that I sing today.
And it’s because of the event that night with angels on the mountain that I believe I’m a minister today. Junior camp seriously changed my life.
Camp Polaris is really worn-down now, but I know that people are trying hard to get funds to build that camp back up again. That place has changed so many people’s lives here in Alaska—local lives! Just recently, when I was fishing 100 miles away, I still heard good things about Camp Polaris. I believe that if we keep on building it up, making it better for kids, it will keep on changing lives, like mine was. And who knows? Maybe another local person here in Alaska will become a Seventh-day Adventist minister or a missionary—whatever God wants them to be. All I know for sure is that God’s work at Camp Polaris isn’t done yet.
Chad Angasan, a native Inuit/Aleut, is a Global Mission Pioneer pastoring in the village of Togiak, Alaska.