By Pastor Gary Beck | November 23, 2019
Thirty-nine years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, Fukuko and I were living in a 16 by 20 ft cabin in the Eskimo village of Savoonga on Saint Lawrence Island, which is off the coast of Alaska—nearer, in fact, to the coast of Russia. We had a four-month-old son, Ernest, and an assignment: we were to share the love of Jesus and maintain the church building in the village of 500 people. Our assets were youth, my master’s degree in Religion with emphasis in Missions, a desire to serve God, and some practical experience. We had a year’s supply of food, stove oil in barrels, a barrel of gasoline for the snow mobile and the 3-wheeler, and a telephone and electricity—but no running water. The water was located by the city office, and with a barrel, I needed to haul what we needed and get rid of the used water. The bathroom contained one bucket with a seat over it. The temperature was about 10 degrees above zero outside and a pleasant 70 degrees inside. We could receive one radio station from Nome which kept us up to date for weather and news, with limited choices for music. The post office was next door, which provided our communication with the rest of the world, as personal phone rates were just too expensive for our salary of $100.00 per month.
That Thanksgiving we had many things to be thankful for. A warm cabin, a bed, a crib for our son, warm clothes for outdoors, plenty of food, clean water, a few books, a few Eskimo friends, good health, a very gracious God. I don’t remember what was on the menu that Thanksgiving; it was nothing fresh, but we were content, happy and doing what God wanted us to do. The church had twenty members, from the old patriarch Nathan and his wife Jeanette to the little children. All were precious in God’s kingdom.
Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, “How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Paul also encourages Timothy, by saying: “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So, if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” He goes on to warn Timothy, “But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so, run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses… Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.”
Pastor Gary Beck