By Stan Friedman
NOME, AK (October 21, 2013) — Standing outside in the cold air, Pastor Harvey Fiskeaux was disheartened to hear that Samaritan’s Purse would not be able to help Nome Covenant Church build a new youth center.
The property was too small, Luther Harrison, vice president of North American Ministries for the organization founded and led by Franklin Graham, told him. Harrison had come to Nome with a team to investigate whether such assistance would be feasible.
The church did not have room to expand, either, because it had lost out on a bid to purchase a house next door a few years earlier.
The church building in which the congregation was meeting was rotting into the ground and being held together by cables, Fiskeaux says. The roof sagged and looked like it could cave in at any moment.
“I just figured that’s that,” Fiskeaux recalls. At best, a youth center would be a dream deferred.
But then Harrison told him the good news: Samaritan’s Purse was willing to purchase both the land and the house next door for the church. And they would construct an entirely new church building.
“I was blown away,” Fiskeaux recalls. “I stopped him and said, ‘Luther, can I repeat back to you what you just said, because I want to make sure I’m not getting mixed signals? You’re going to buy the property and then build us a new church on it?’ ”
Harrison replied, “That is exactly what I’m saying, and you need to be thinking about what kind of church you want.”
By summer, the old building was being demolished and construction of the new church had begun. The congregation began meeting in Nome’s Mini Convention Center.
The congregation held its first worship service in the new building yesterday; it will fully occupy the site in early November.
“Franklin has said he will come back and dedicate the building,” Fiskeaux says.
The Nome congregation came to Graham’s attention after country gospel singer Dennis Agajanian sang at the church in February. The singer has worked with Samaritan’s Purse, and two weeks later on a plane he told Graham about the church’s desire for a youth center, suggesting that the organization help.
At the same time, Tim Amundsen, son of former Covenant missionary Roald Amundsen, had been talking with Harrison about the same project. No one knew the other conversations were taking place, least of all Fiskeaux.
The house next door to the church was moved to another location, and teams of volunteers have been doing construction work at the church every week since July, Fiskeaux says, still sounding amazed.
The church now refers to the entire project as the “miracle on Front Street.” Fiskeaux says, “This doesn’t happen unless it’s God wanting to show himself strong.”
Samaritan’s Purse also provided the financing to purchase the Arctic Trading Post, located on the opposite side of the house that was purchased. That building is being converted into a youth center.
The pastor has exhorted the congregation, “We’re going to have to rise up to that level of commitment. That it is a challenge to us to really commit ourselves to Christ.”
To watch a Samaritan’s Purse video of the project, click here.
The view additional photos, visit the church’s Facebook page