Impacting Remote Alaska with the Hope of Jesus Christ through Mission Aviation
Across the vast roadless wilderness of Alaska are hundreds of isolated villages where
Americans live in third-world conditions. The rich native culture has been overwhelmed
by rampant alcoholism, teen suicide, joblessness, and spiritual darkness.
The inhospitable terrain, depressing isolation, high cost of living, inadequate housing,
bitter weather, and winter darkness only serve to compound the rapidly changing cultural
Fostering true change is difficult for many villages due to the lack of connecting
roads. Exposure and access to Christian influence and care is likewise limited—and
sadly, women and children are affected the most.
Less than 100 villages have any established evangelical church, pastor, or missionary
presence; and many have no followers of Jesus Christ. When there is a pastor or
missionary in the village, they are also isolated and cutoff from the normal spiritual
and support networks typically afforded other Christian workers.
Pastors and missionaries in village churches are fighting an uphill battle to share
Christ in meaningful ways to an increasingly hard-to-reach population.
The Missionary Aviation Repair Center has provided a lifeline of hope to these villages,
strengthened the ministry of Christians, and expanded the reach of the Gospel across
the Alaskan frontier since 1964.
Today, MARC has a fleet of airplanes that fly throughout western Alaska and even
across the Bering Sea into eastern Russia. We provide affordable transportation
services, training, and quality airplane maintenance for mission organizations through
our own internal staff of missionary families who raise their own financial support
to serve with MARC. We’re privileged to serve God here!
In 2012 our combined ministry team flew 2,521 passengers and 298,677 pounds of cargo,
making 841 stops in 82 different communities in direct support of 71 churches, missionaries,
and Christian outreach organizations, making a real difference in these communities
of 81,000 people. Join with us in prayer as we labor to impact remote Alaska with
the hope of Jesus Christ in 2013!
Despite its vast natural resources and spectacular beauty, thousands of people in
Western Alaska are living in an isolated third-world environment where spiritual
oppression, alcohol, drugs, sexual abuse, and suicide are increasingly the norm.
The rapid introduction of conflicting society values is steadily destroying the protective
factors that were once so strongly present in the traditional culture and lifestyle.
In the more than 230 rural villages located in Alaska, the Native culture is dying,
and the people are suffering.
The Native values of family, love for others, humility, compassion, humor, avoidance
of conflict, and respect for elders that were once deeply rooted in their spirituality
are now in jeopardy.
Sadly, the children are affected the most because many village parents have walked
away from their own Christian influences and upbringing.
Certainly people, including children, are dying needlessly. The murder rate among
Alaska Natives is four times the national average, and Alaska’s suicide rate is consistently
more than twice the national average. This is one of the highest suicide rates in
the world, with the highest rates occurring among males, young adults, Alaska Natives,
and people living in rural regions of the state.
The suicide rate for Native Alaskans is four times the national average, and virtually
half of the suicides in the Native community are committed by 15-24 year-olds.
The State of Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services recently reported
that suicide accounted for two-thirds of all violent deaths in Alaska and the highest
rates were found in rural Alaska, with some remote areas averaging more than three
times the statewide average.
Additionally, the homicide rate among Alaska Natives remains nearly three times greater
than non-Natives, with Alaska Native males aged 30-34 years averaging nearly 27 times
the murder rate of their Caucasian counterparts in Alaska.
Certainly people, especially women and children, are suffering needlessly. More
than three out of every four Alaska Native women will be physically assaulted in
her lifetime and more than one out of every three will be raped in her lifetime.
The state’s rate of rape is more than twice the national average.
Just as heartbreaking, child sexual assault in Alaska is almost six times the national
average, and the average sexual assault victim in Alaska is only 16 years old.
Every year approximately 8,000 children in Alaska are physically or sexually abused.
Almost unimaginably, in four out of five sexual assault cases, the assailants are
relatives, friends, or acquaintances.
The Alaska Native infant mortality rate is more than twice the national average,
and Alaska has the highest Fetal Alcohol Syndrome rate in the nation. Alaska’s alcohol
mortality rate is three times the US rate, including a rate of nearly 10 times the
US rate for the Alaska Native population.
Nearly 12 percent of rural Alaskan families live below the income poverty line. That
figure rises to 22% for Alaska Native families, and the proportion of Alaska Natives
without indoor plumbing is 32 times greater than the rest of the nation.
The State of Alaska is spending more each year on social services, crime prevention,
and courts as a result of the widespread use of alcohol and illicit drugs along with
the rampant decline in morals and values.
If nothing different is done, many more people will be lost; the culture will be
gone forever; and the government will spend more and more money trying to solve a
Jesus Christ’s Unconditional Love
Fortunately there is hope: Jesus Christ’s unconditional love. In addition to the
government’s effort, pastors, missionaries, evangelists, churches, and other ministry
agencies are working to not only meet the basic needs of the Alaskan people but also
to bring the life-changing power of Christ to their communities.
These efforts are ultimately focused on individual hearts because once the redemptive
power of God’s love has truly transformed an individual’s internal will and desires,
the positive external change is readily evident and powerful in the community also.
Spiritual change within the villages is a core imperative in halting today’s downward
spiral of needless death and suffering in the Native Alaska community. Integrated
spiritual and faith components naturally bring a strong connection to family; positive
connection to other adults; social, emotional, and employability skills; connection
to school; engagement in meaningful activities; and a strong sense of cultural identity.
As such, program collaboration with the spiritual leaders in the villages is critical
to fully involving the community in education, information, and engagement.
Unfortunately, the work of pastors and missionary families living and ministering
in the villages is extremely difficult and requires a true commitment and dedication.
Ministry workers can’t just walk into a village with a diploma or certification and
expect instant respect or acceptance. They can’t just construct a community service
building to be successful at changing the community, and they can’t just build a
new sanctuary to have a fully functioning church.
Relationships of trust have to be nurtured over a long period of time to reach the
adult generation, and Christian workers must be attuned and sensitive to the Native
culture and hardships of village life.
Additionally, these “front-line warriors” need a reliable network of encouragement
and external support to sustain their efforts.
Relying heavily upon missionary aviation for village access, assisting ministries
also need professional maintenance and transportation services to keep robust “lifelines”
open to the remote villages.
Unfortunately, aircraft maintenance in Alaska is both difficult and time consuming,
and arctic aviation operations are inherently expensive.
To make mission aviation effective, affordable, and safe, the Missionary Aviation
Repair Center (MARC) in Soldotna, Alaska has played a vital role since 1964 by centralizing
these critical services for the many Christian ministries working in the challenging
However, the rapid acceleration of moral decline in western Alaska only continues
to expand the needs of the Gospel.
Help us impact the Alaskan people with the unconditional love and life-changing hope
that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
You can play a direct role in MARC’s life-changing efforts!
“As a pilot and a preacher of the Gospel, I have a special appreciation for our friends
and partners at the Missionary Aviation Repair Center. As much as I trust their
technical expertise, I value their commitment to evangelism and share their heart
for the people of Alaska.”
- Franklin Graham, President & CEO, Samaritan’s Purse