KODIAK — Recently the church family of the Assembly of God Church said their goodbyes to pastors Tracy and Pam Hodges at a potluck in the church social hall. The couple left Kodiak on a ferry two days later.
Peter Olsen, church lead elder who will be filling in the pulpit while the church looks for a new pastor, said the parting was “bittersweet.” Expressing the sentiments of many, he said that the congregation is, on the one hand, sad to see the couple leave, and, on the other, excited that they’re launching into new opportunities for ministry.
The Hodges, who served the Kodiak church seven years, recently were accepted by the denomination as US missionaries to Alaska.
Concerned about doing God’s will, the Hodges began praying about becoming domestic missionaries during the last part of last year. In January they decided to apply for a US missionary appointment.
Applying for the missionary position is a “really long process,” Pam said. “They vet you, do all the steps to get you ready for that.” The Hodges received notification of approval earlier this summer.
In their new position, the Hodges will be tasked with identifying a mentor for children’s ministry and training leaders for rural Alaska communities. “We’ll do outreach to children and support churches in helping them establish a recovery ministry, family ministry – things that will help our villages,” Pam said.
For the last two years, Pam has been a missionary associate, “which was kind of a stepping stone” to the new position, she said. “I felt the Lord leading me that way, and that was one of the vehicles I had to get there.”
For their new commission, the Hodges will go through training at national church headquarters in Springfield, Illinois. Because the Assemblies of God doesn’t have the finances to completely support a missionary, the Hodges will spend part of their time in the lower 48 raising funds for their personal budget as well as the ministry.
Once the Hodges have raised adequate funds, they will return to Alaska to minister to villages across the state.
They hope to be back in Alaska next April for the district council.
Ministering to people in rural Alaska is nothing new for Pam.
In her responsibility as director of Assemblies of God children’s ministry for Alaska — a ministry which she has been involved with for nine years and will continue to perform — she managed camps and various district events for kids in many Inupiat and Yup’ik villages in western Alaska.
In the spring of 2016 Pam led a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) team on a six-week tour to Klawock, Ketchikan, Nome, Stebbins, St. Michael and Fort Yukon.
In some villages Pam has spoken at school assemblies addressing such issues as bullying.
“God’s been doing really neat things, touching (kids’) hearts. I’ve had some really great connections with leaders in the community.” In several communities people performed their Native dances to express their appreciation for the Hodges, Pam said.
The Hodges have also ministered in other countries.
Pam has been to India three times helping a friend with a children’s ministry. Last year she went to Berlin, Germany to conduct a camp for missionary kids and their parents who serve in Islamic nations. Tracy went to Ethiopia last year for evangelism outreach.
Missionary outreach has been “our heart,” said Tracy. “We’ve always been very missions-minded.”
For the past seven years the Hodges have helped develop outreach ministries at the Kodiak Assembly of God.
They launched Kids’ Rock, an activity night that reaches children ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade through high-energy games and contests, music and Gospel messages. Many of the attendees are not churched.
“I love ministering to kids that do not necessarily go to church, just teaching basic things about Jesus, presenting the Gospel, the Good News,” said Pam.
Kids Rock and other programs have helped the Hodges connect with kids and their families.
“We kind of have two congregations,” noted Pam. “We have our church people, and those in the community that don’t necessarily come to church. Kids are a big part of that.”
Pam, who admitted at the potluck that it was difficult to let go of Kids Rock, said she is pleased that church staffer Borghy Holm, who now directs the program, has been doing a good job.
Kodiak Assembly of God has received several resumes from several candidates. Kodiak Assembly is considered a general council church, said Tracy. “They are self-governing. They work with the state headquarters network which refer pastors, It’s up to the local church committee to decide if they invite (a candidate) to be their pastor. (That person) needs to be a good fit for everybody.”
“Not everyone is cut out to live on an island,” said Pam.
There is no doubt in the Hodges’ mind or anyone else’s that they were a “good fit” on the island.
“We’ve done a majority of ministry in the Gulf of Alaska, so we really enjoyed the community,” Tracy said. “We’ve made some of the best friends of our lives here. The whole community been a great place to live.”
“We’ll leave part of our heart here,” Pam said. “We will be praying for this church that God would send them a new pastor who will nurture them and help them grow in their faith. We love them. Just because we leave, doesn’t mean our heart goes.”
“As part of our network, we want to bring in missions teams to Kodiak, do some children’s ministry, have special meetings and work with the community,” Tracy said. “We hope to make opportunities to come back.”
Those who are interested in supporting the Hodges in their new ministry can contact Borghy Holm at the church at 907-486-3894 or firstname.lastname@example.org