So how does this sound? We retire our 2004, 29ft camping trailer to Tuktoyaktuk? We could conceivably live in it from late spring through summer and into early fall. Then as the temperatures fall we could re-occupy our home in Inuvik and drive the ice roads to Tuk each week until spring when we could move back into the camper. We would essentially have a year round ministry in Tuk and the housing costs would be nil. Lois and I both love to camp, and we lived in the camper for a year of furlough, so we know what we would be in for. The water and sewer situation will take some out of the box thinking and preparation, but certainly not too big of an obstacle. What do you think?
Our services in Tuk have been very encouraging. Each service I have a moment where I almost become overwhelmed with emotion. Either it is during the song service or during the message. I get overwhelmed with joy that the Lord is working in such clear and distinguishable ways. What a joy to serve the Lord! Good participation in the song service, eye contact during the preaching, sweet fellowship after the service and some good questions getting back to me. I am thrilled!
God is continuing to use me in Inuvik. Although I am no longer pastor of FBBC, I am often called upon by Bro. Gary Forney to preach or participate in the service in one way or another. Bro. Forney is our mission director and Pastors FBBC as we slowly transition to indigenous leadership. I also am honoured to be friends with fellow missionary Larry Noland in Aklavik and help him in small ways as he leads the congregation there. Although we wait on the Lord to facilitate our onsite presence in Tuk, we are definitely busy. I am looking forward to two weeks of Rock Crossing Bible Camp in Alaska and as well working on our own Delta Bible Camp here in the Canadian North. While activity is never the sole indicator of a good missionary, activity is part of the picture. I pray you can see that Lois and I are busy, moving forward and pressing toward the mark.
Our family is doing excellent. Each one is serving the Lord and faithful in preparation for or actively in full time Christian service. Our granddaughters are doing excellent, with the youngest just turning one year old. All four are… grand!
Lois is improving a bit. We are being cautious to not have a setback, but progress in noticeable. Please continue to lift her up in prayer and thank you for doing so. I’m doing fine, just getting older.
Thank you for your faithful prayer, support and friendship. We are blessed in so many ways and you are part of those blessings,
Steve & Lois Donley
The State of the Arctic
There is a tourism slogan that has been used in the Northwest Territories for a long time. It simply says, “Within reach, yet beyond belief”. This refers to the stunning natural beauty of the NWT and that it is possible to see and experience such a place. I have always thought this slogan fit perfectly into the spiritual side of things as well.
There are nine communities in the Arctic of the Northwest Territories of Canada. By “Arctic” I mean those communities that are physically above the imaginary line that runs at 66 degrees, 32 minutes North of the equator called the Arctic Circle. By Northwest Territories I mean exclusively that. Not the territory of Nunavut or the Yukon, and obviously not Alaska, USA.
The combined population of those nine arctic communities is 7134. For the past 20 years our focus has been on the three major communities in the extreme Northwest corner of the territory called the “Western Arctic.” Inuvik has a population of 3504, Tuktoyaktuk 935, and Aklavik has 655 people dwelling there. Those 5094 souls in the arctic of the NWT have had a gospel witness for decades. That leaves six communities and 2040 souls in the Arctic of the NWT that have had little or no gospel witness. In the same time span the western arctic has had the blessing of a consistent and clear gospel witness, the 2040 of the remaining six arctic communities in the NWT have not. They must be reached with the gospel. Is this not truly representative of “Within reach, yet beyond belief”?
So I want to start a prayer initiative. I’m going to call it the 2040 window prayer initiative. 2040 refers to the number of souls and window refers to the window of opportunity to reach those souls. At 52 years of age, the window of opportunity for me to reach those communities is almost closed. My mission director, Bro. Gary Forney is respectfully a bit older than me, so the window is a bit further closed for him. Larry Noland is focused on Aklavik and the other 13 missionaries of Points North Baptist Mission are dedicated to a ministry and people groups in other areas. The answer lies in those reading this letter. Some may surrender and go, and some may pray for the 2040 window. Some may give and some may promote Arctic Missions in their ministries. We truly are in a symbiotic relationship.
2040 window. Yep, I like it.
In lesser intense news, the meetings in Tuk have been good. Attendance is picking up since the weather has turned colder and I have experienced great liberty as I preach. Several visitors have been attending and the regulars have been faithful.
I was able to purchase a “new to me” snowmobile due to a generous love offering of a Canadian church and a specific offering from a small Ohio church. The Arctic Cat snowmobile was new to me but in actuality it was 99.3% brand new. The machine has 7 miles on it! Nonetheless was officially not new therefore the price was reflective of a used machine.
Lois is still adjusting and learning a “new normal” in dealing with her continued neurological difficulties. Angie attends Bible college in Florida and Steven and his family are living in Manitoba attending Bible college too. Becky is a mom of 3 now and is faithfully serving alongside her husband in Nunavut.
Thank you for your love and support both in prayer and finances. We are grateful God has allowed us to partner with you.
Steve and Lois Donley
February 7, 2012
February 2012 Newsletter
Dear Praying friends,
A bit over 100 days and we will begin our return to the Arctic. We have added three new supporting churches with two pending since we started furlough. We have reported to many of the churches that currently support us if they contacted me and asked for a meeting. Our travels have taken us recently to Texas, Florida and Ontario. I’m writing this from Buffalo, NY and will be in Western Ohio this coming Sunday. Meetings in Michigan, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida will keep us busy through March.
Please specifically pray that the meetings in Wisconsin and Michigan will result in new support. Also please pray that the work of reporting to supporting churches will result in God meeting our needs for the far North. I have scaled back our wish list to two items on a must have list. We need our truck’s 4X4, shift on the fly feature repaired and we need a snowmobile in Tuk.
While stopped waiting for traffic a driver in a minivan plowed into the back of our truck right before Christmas. The eventual repair actually improved the overall condition of the vehicle. As well, we had a $2700.00 engine repair in Texas that solved a serious and potentially dangerous problem for Arctic extremes. You may also remember the heater core issues of September 2011 that were resolved in Ontario. Barring new difficulties and addressing the remaining 4X4 concerns, our vehicle will be in better condition than it has been for years. (By the way, it is a 2002 model with 226,000+ kilometers on it)
To go to Tuktoyaktuk without a good, reliable snowmobile would be foolishness. I said in an earlier wish list that $6,000.00 would get a reliable used snowmobile. I stand by that figure, but I am actually asking the Lord to provide His choice for me. Less or more, whatever He wants. So could you pray the remaining meetings might bring provision for this need as well?
Angie is in College in Florida and Lois and I are bona fide empty nesters. Adjustment is part of life and some changes are welcome and some are not. We constantly find His grace is sufficient. Our camper is pretty empty without Ang, but we are happy she is preparing to serve the King someday. We prayed for the Lord to put each of our children on the front lines and that is exactly what He is doing. Becky is in Rankin Inlet, Steven is currently in Inuvik, and Angie has inquired about Islamic people groups. Our hearts yearn for our 3, soon to be 4 granddaughters. However, Lois and I agree we would have it no other way. Children in the centre of God’s will are more to be desired than fine gold.
The ministry in Inuvik is operating fine without us and we sorely miss the people there and are counting the days until we meet again. Under new leadership they will have to look elsewhere for pastoral guidance and direction, but they will always be the recipients of our love and prayers.
Our sending church is going through a pastoral change and we are in prayer it will all turn out well. I have tried to be pulpit supply as often as my schedule allows. Leadership transitions are rarely crisp and precise events. Difficulties rise and fall and change is inevitable. These changes should be smooth with the Holy Spirit, but experience has us taught us to keep our eyes open. I will keep you informed of pertinent victories or necessary changes.
Thank you for your prayer and support,
Steve & Lois
The holiday season came and went and we were blessed to spend it with family and friends. It was truly a joy to have some friends from the Arctic with us and the blend of North and South was special for us. We said goodbye to Becky, Nathan, Hayleigh and Alayna as they returned to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
Lois, Angie and I are currently in Houston, Texas visiting her brothers and then we are on our way Pensacola, Florida to take Ang to PCC. We then will be official “empty nesters.” But we are so happy Ang is getting to go to college. It has been a dream of hers for some time. She has delayed college a couple of times to stay plugged into and invested in our ministry in the Arctic.
Our trip down to Texas was almost uneventful other than a nagging camper 12 volt problem. While here, our truck developed a starting problem and while it is in the shop for repair I have a bit of time to update our website.
January has been a bit on the lean side financially, as the meetings have been sparse. The post Christmas and New Years weeks are usually this way and thus our scheduling the Texas trip. But the Lord has been good and we are going to be fine.
Just before Christmas a guy rearended me and my truck was damaged. Insurance covered the repairs and a great body shop called “Walt’s Body Shop” near Columbiana, Ohio did an awesome job with the repairs and it was finished just in time to take off for this current trip. The truck is a 2002, and it looks better than it has for years! Roman 8:28 proves true again!
We had a wonderful conference at Harvest Baptist Church in Hagerstown, Maryland where Dr. James Moore is the Pastor. Dr. Moore and the folks of Harvest Baptist love missions and missionaries and we were the beneficiaries this week.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Gene Burge and as usual Dr. Burge made faith promise missions come alive from the pages of the Bible and crystal clear in our hearts. It was Dr. Burge who recommended me to Pastor Moore. Around 2002 or 2003 Bro. and Mrs. Burge came to Inuvik for one of our early mission conferences and immediately our hearts were knit together. I was surprised to see shortly thereafter Dr. Burge featured our ministry in the Baptist Mission to Forgotten Peoples “family news.” Since I was not a BMFP missionary, Lois and I were greatly honoured and figured since we were not BMFP they were considering us “kin!”
At the close of the conference Sunday night, the other missionaries in the conference, The Lyons family to Spain, and Miss Nancy Butkevich missionary to Siberia/Russia and Lois and I were waiting for the church to dismiss by manning our display tables. Upon dismissal, Dr. Moore greeted the missionaries before the congregation did and informed the Lyons and Miss Nancy that the church had just voted to increase their support! Approaching me he extended his hand and declared the church had just voted to add us to their supported mission family! It had been nearly 15 years since a church took us on while we were standing there. What an encouragement and boost to our resolve to honour God with every fibre of our being.
Dr. Moore had inquired as to my upcoming schedule and I told him of my meetings in Gettysburg, PA this Sunday. After finding out I did not have the coming Wednesday booked with a meeting, he invited me to come back and preach at Harvest! What a gracious Pastor and church.