Nunavut is the northernmost territory of Canada. It is roughly eight times the size of the UK and has an entire population of just under thirty thousand. The word ‘Nunavut’ means ‘Our Land’ in the local language, Inuktitut. 85% of Nunavut’s residents are native Inuit.
The Inuit way of life has been greatly altered and harmed in recent years by westernisation. For example, serious social issues have developed regarding addictive substances and behaviours. Also, the extreme weather and isolation have had a harmful influence on people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Temperatures can drop as low as -60°C and snow falls constantly for roughly nine months of the year. The weather makes travelling between communities slow, usually by skidoo or small plane. If the weather is particularly harsh, communities across the Arctic can be cut off from each other for long periods of time. It is not surprising, therefore, that the suicide rate in the Arctic is four times the national average of Canada.
Yet at the heart of every isolated Inuit community is the Church. The gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed throughout the vast region and there is a strong desire to handle the word of God well. So, on 27 February 2017, Crosslinks began a School of Biblical Training at a small bible school based in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut.
Crosslinks Schools of Biblical Training help people learn the basics of bible exposition. The first week was spent studying the Gospel of Mark and learning how to go from a passage to a sermon. In the second week, the class studied Philippians, thinking about how to preach the New Testament Epistles. As the training progressed, the students were challenged to take God’s word seriously and preach it faithfully and clearly. It was a joy to watch them rise to the challenge. I found myself echoing the words of Archibald Fleming in his Arctic communiqué to Crosslinks headquarters in 1927:“It would have warmed your heart to see the spiritual earnestness of the people. They are certainly a worshipping people and a bible-loving people. I have never worshipped with more devout or reverent congregations than I did this [winter] in the North… the more I see of the Inuit, the more they appeal to me, and the more do I feel that they are worthy of all the effort and sacrifice involved” (Archdeacon Archibald Fleming, 1927 – he later became the first Bishop of the Arctic in 1933).
Please pray for our partnership with God’s people in the Arctic to develop and grow. Pray for the faithful proclamation of Christ to the young people of that stunning land, that many boys and girls may repent and have faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord. Pray that church leaders will guard their lives and doctrine closely and that they will handle the Bible well as they preach and teach Christ in the churches.
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