In 1969, Dave Butterworth, a current NLF board member, and his new bride Carolyn went to Alaska as Volunteers in Service to America. They were assigned to a small village where they encountered the under-developed culture of an Eskimo community trying to join 20th century America.
They discovered that the family structure was made up of grandparents who spoke only Inupiat, parents who spoke both Inupiat and English (neither well), and children who spoke mainly English. Communication between children and their grandparents was difficult. The children were educated on the island through 8th grade (not grade level) and then shipped to Oklahoma to finish their schooling. The culture shock from tundra to desert was huge and was emotionally detrimental to their lives upon return to Alaska. After a year in Alaska, Dave and Carolyn returned to Iowa with very little hope for the future of those villagers.
Fast forward thirty-five years when Butterworths made a return trip to Alaska. The Internet revealed more information in a few hours than they had gleaned in their year living in the village. They discovered that those children they had loved had become parents and that many, if not most, of their children were now enrolled in college or had even become graduates. The development of the culture over that time span was remarkable. The hope for the future that Butterworths had considered impossible had progressed dramatically over the years. A small beginning had yielded much fruit.
Therefore, as NLF ministers helping young people find a better life, we must extend our vision into the future and see how those touched today will help to change a community across time. We are a part of God’s moving vision, which will surely be accomplished over time. What may look hopeless in Tanzania today will be viewed as remarkable in the future by those who remain to witness it.