BORING, OR – InterAct Ministries is based in Boring, Oregon. Nothing about InterAct’s history or ministry, however, is boring.
An Unusual Beginning
It didn’t take long for John Gillespie and his wife, Nadine, after they arrived in Alaska in 1941, to realize that missionaries there were working toward the same goal, but not many were connected.
John realized that the disconnection was a hindrance to winning Alaska for Christ because each tiny, individual effort lacked the power of the synergy available only in networking. He spent 10 years propagating and promoting the concept of forming a coalition of missionaries working under the auspices of a dedicated mission board while he and Nadine continued working on their projects.
John began pastoring The Church of the Open Door in Anchorage in 1945. The church became a platform for the message of his mission. He organized a missionary conference in 1946 as a means of encouraging independent missionaries and espousing his vision for an Alaska-centric missions board.
Sixteen missionaries attended the 1951 conference. As usual, John advocated for some action. One of the attendees, Marvin Webber, described the following decisive moment.
“We were sitting around discussing missions, and Jim Vaus made the comment, ‘Johnnie, you’ve talked about missions long enough. Let’s do something about it.’ So, Jim reached in his pocket and pulled out his billfold, and laid a $50 bill on the table. Ken Hughes also put money on the table, and they said, ‘Let’s organize right now.’ So they did. That was the beginning of what is now InterAct Ministries.”
An Unusual 70 Years
Missionary work is particularly difficult in Alaska. America’s 49th state has more than 150 villages with populations of fewer than 1,000. Many of the people have never heard the Gospel message. The difficulty of reaching these villages is exacerbated by their isolation. Bush planes are often the only means of access.
The greatest difficulty faced by InterAct and other missionaries, however, may be the spiritual darkness that engulfs the region, evidenced by the proliferation of markings and totem poles related to the various tribal religions.
Nonetheless, the Lord has blessed InterAct, opening doors that now allow them to reach westward to the indigenous people in Siberia all the way to the border of Mongolia and eastward to the First Nations communities in upper Canada.
Today, InterAct is actively reaching the least-reached people across the North Pacific Rim. They are shining the Light of the World into the darkness of Shamanism, Animism, Buddhism, and atheism, as well as to villages of Aleut, Ailtiiq, Athabascan, Eskimo, and other tribes. Five years ago, Midway Christian Leadership merged with InterAct, extending its ministry as far east as parts of Manitoba.
The efficacy of InterAct’s efforts might best be described in the words of an indigenous church in Yakutsk (one of the coldest communities on earth) when he said,
“The light of the Gospel has penetrated our land, and the frozen hearts of our people are melting because of the warmth of God’s love.”