I know a town that has experienced great loss and yet, gives greatly.
This town, Port Alsworth, Alaska is a bush town (unreachable by roads, only by air) that boasts a population of just over 100 people. We lived here more than five years ago, and have spent the last week reconnecting with them.
Since we were last here, our friends have experienced the loss of children in an airplane crash in an ice-covered lake. The parents, also in the plane, managed to survive the wreck, left to grieve the loss of their three daughters who didn’t escape. The whole town felt the loss, as their children are the friends of the lost.
Many of the villagers have lost other friends or family members to airplane crashes over the years.
Various families in the town have adopted at least 13 kids so far—kids from African orphanages and Alaskan foster care. Kids who come from alcohol-addicted mothers, from an Alaskan native culture that is suspected of figures of 90 percent rate of molestation. The kids are in homes where they are loved, wanted, protected.
Port Alsworth has a campground for native kids who come from villages of darkness, where alcoholism and molestation are a daily part of their lives. These kids come to Port Alsworth to be loved, taught, guided. They have a haven in this village in the mountains.
Others have moved to Port Alsworth, seeking help, jobs, friendship. One, a widow with four kids, has been embraced by the husbands of the town, who look for ways to help her family—whether it’s cut firewood or fix a snow mobile. Others have lived with the families from Port Alsworth—families who open their homes up to others year after year.
Pilots from Port Alsworth have been flying into Russia, seeking to bring hope to those who live there.
And the church of Port Alsworth gives money to various organizations serving the poor and needy throughout the world—Indonesia, Nepal, Uganda, Burma, to name a few.
Remember, this is a town of around 100 people, tucked away in a mountain range in Alaska. Yet its impact can be seen throughout the world.