|1999 A.D, February 28.: A Roar On Baffin Island|
|Written by Dan Curry|
|Friday, 14 January 2011|
1999 A.D., Feb 28: A Baffin Island Church Is Filled With A Roaring Sound
Baffin Island is a part of the fairly recently formed Canadian Province called Nunavut, (formed in April 1, 1999 from the former Northwest Territories) which contains a largely Innuit population of around 30,000 people, though the area of land it occupies is about the size of Europe at over 750,000 square miles. That's about 25 square miles per person - significant elbow room for even the largest people. But before you pack up the wagon and rush to claim a few surplus thousand acre plots from the benevolent Canadian government, realize that the climate is just a little brisk there. Arctic Circle brisk. Portions of Nunavut are part of the fabled 'far frozen North'!
The Innuit that live there know how you have to live, and have been doing it for many hundreds of years. The cold that drove the Europeans out of Greenland long ago did not much deter the Innuits. They know what the land will and won't let you do. They've known for a great many centuries.
But like many American cultures that worked pretty well on the worldly plane before they encountered a European invasion, the Innuit have faced a lot of changes in their culture that did not assimilate well, and which tore up the fabric of their ways, habits, and traditions. Yet...with all of the bad came Jesus; Europeans did bring knowledge of Jesus. They certainly didn't model it particularly well, but they brought the Word, and the Word offers life to all who follow Jesus. Apart from Jesus, there is no life, because God placed the judgement of men's souls in the hand of His Son. So Europeans can be praised for bringing the Gospel about as much as they can be cursed for bringing small pox and measels. In both cases, it was not their primary objective! (The missionaries excepted, of course.)
The Innuit, it is said, believed in spirits, but not in one, all encompassing and almighty God. Christianity entered their consciousness and their land in increments. Early missionaries from the Catholic and Protestant ranks found many good things in the Innuit culture, but they found female infanticide somewhat common, and murder was a common result of rage, jealosy, etc.
Even in 1913, the first two Catholic priests to go to Coppermine (Klugluktuk) were shot and killed, probably for some personal posessions they carried. The far north of Canada was not always an easy missionary field.
In the mid 1900's, as a string of early warning military instalations were built in a line from East to West across Northeren Canada to warn of possible Soviet missile strikes, the Innuit near those sites began to have a lot more contact with Westerners, and Western vices began to permeate their society at a worrisome rate. Alcohol, drugs, crime, pornography, sex crimes, and a host of other ills began to take hold with increasing strength, and depression, suicide, rapes, and various other crime and problems were an outgrowth of this sadly unsuccessful blend of traditional and western culture. The knowledge of how to live the old way decreased. Televisions, heavy metal music, and other things took their place.
So, as the year 2000 arrived, there were a lot of social ills to deal with, but the spiritual damage was far worse. Pastors wrote about visiting entire towns that felt like they were under spiritual siege. But the answer, they thought, was prayer. Lots and lots of prayer, and preaching of the word, and calling on God for revival in this troubled area.
And prayer did work. In certain ways and in certain churches, certain towns, revival did break out. The churches were seldom peopled by the virtuous, it was said. Alcoholics, former and current drug addicts, abusers of spouses and children, these were some of the admitted sins of the people who came to church to seek God, feeling that their lives were too filled with sin, that their souls were sick and in need of God. You know, the same sins as exists everywhere else.
There had been victories here and there. One church, St. Timothy's in the town of Pond Island, on the island of Baffin Island, had rallied the people in their town in the mid 1990's to make a pile worth an estimated $100,000.00 worth of drugs, pornography, and heavy metal music - and they publically burned it all!
Over the years, Innuits had moved from doubters of Christianity to believers, and then to leaders in many of the churches. The presence of Innuit Pastors and Ministers were signs of a growing cultural acceptance of the proof of Christ, though the cultural problems were by no means fully overcome.
But even so, it was quite a surprise to the roughly 40 people at a service in St Timothy's Anglican Church (as mentioned, it's in the town of Pond Inlet on Baffin Island) when the presence of God's Holy Spirit showed up to their early service on Feb 28, 1999.
Rev. Joshua Arreak was co-leading the service with his brother. It was a fervent group of worshippers that day, they were pressing in towards God and hoping for 'revival', and the ministers wife was praying for those who needed prayer. Moses Kyak was running the sound equipment for worship music and lots was going on there inside their church during that service, when all of a sudden a noise came, and began to drown out the other sounds.
It sounded like a mighty wind blowing inside the building to some, but there was no wind. It grew in volume, it sounded like thunder to some. The sound man, Moses, turned his equipment off, but that had no affect. The noise grew.
Rev. Joshua Arreak said that it sounded like Niagara Falls to him. His brother James Arreak was helping him lead the service that day, and both experienced the roar. Some people in the congregation began falling down for no discernable reason. And for about a minute this sound was very loud in their church. But a lot was going on, and as the noise faded away, the people just kept worshipping. One of the worship leaders began to shake very hard. But as the mighty roar came and went, the service went on, until the early service was over.
It was during the second service that it became apparent that what some had thought was their own private experience was in fact a shared experience. And it occurred to the Pastor or someone that they had kept some recording equipment running during that first service.
They checked it, and the noise had been recorded. It was there to be heard, as they remembered it, and since then many have heard that recording. Churches from many places have contacted their church, when hearing about it, and it brought some recognition to the area and to that church. There has been a revival in quite a number of Innuit communities since then, and it's been spreading across the Arctic among the largely Innuit towns, changing the towns, changing the people, and bringing people at the far end of the Earth to God.
Praise to 'Revival' through the Holy Spirit. May God allow it everywhere!
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