Thursday, February 26, 2015

Frontiers of Faith

America has always had a frontier. Frontiers have shaped our attitudes. If things didn't work out where we were, we could always go west. Alaska has been called America's "Last Frontier." But where do we go from there? Space challenges us as a new frontier. Men have even walked on the moon. As a frontier, space seems endless, but that frontier is only open to a select few.

One frontier, however, is open to everyone--the frontier of faith. New frontiers of faith open daily to be explored and conquered. This true pioneering experience is available for each one who is not content with the mundane but wants to keep exploring the depths of Christ. You will never run out of frontiers of faith in your lifetime because God is infinite.

Two people who have done more to shape my faith and challenge me to explore the frontiers of my faith were my maternal grandparents, Charles C. and Florence L. Personeus, pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Alaska from 1917 to 1982. In the pages of Frontiers of Faith, I want to introduce you to my grandparents, their walk of faith, the lessons they learned, the challenges they faced. Just as these two pioneers of faith challenged me to explore the frontiers of my faith, I hope you will be challenged to do the same.

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I first knew I would write this book when I was working in an editorial capacity at the Assemblies of God Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, in 1973, while my husband was in Bible college and seminary. My grandparents were visiting us, and Grandma placed a packet in my hands, saying, "Many people have asked me to write our story, but I'm too old to see it through by myself. So I'm placing all my written accounts in your hands to do with as you think best." (Before she died in 1985, I was able to read the rough draft of this book to her and Grandpa.)

Grandma enriched my childhood with her wonderful storytelling, keeping everyone spellbound with her vivid descriptions of their early days in Alaska. As I began to read through her written accounts, I discovered a wealth of material richer than the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine, which produced over three billion dollars worth of gold at 1980 prices. But how could I best tell their story? I began looking for a recurring theme in the Personeuses' lives. And it wasn't hard to find.

The one thing that stood out in all their experiences was their simple, childlike faith in taking God at His Word, especially in the area of divine healing. At the age of 87, Grandma had written, "I have never taken an aspirin in my life. I have found that prayer works better every time." And she wrote from firsthand experiences of many serious illnesses and injuries. Her statement demonstrates the quality of their faith. It was more than mere words; it was faith in action.

As I studied their accounts of healing and living by faith, I began to see the lessons God had taught them through their experiences. I recognized principles that could perhaps be of help to others who are seeking to walk by faith. Through their stories, I hope to pass on to you some of these principles for exploring and conquering the frontiers of your faith, as I introduce to you two of God's faithful people, who pioneered the Assemblies of God in Alaska, America's "Last Frontier."

In 1917, when the Personeuses first joined the newly formed General Council of the Assemblies of God, Eudorus N. Bell, one of the early leaders, asked, "When you get to Alaska and find it hard, cold, and discouraging, will you stick?"

"We'll stick," they replied.

And "stick" they did. Long after those early leaders had gone on to their eternal reward, the Personeuses ministered faithfully in Alaska for 65 years. In that time they saw the Assemblies of God in Alaska grow from one struggling mission in Juneau to more than 80 churches and missions stations from Ketchikan to Barrow.

--Preface to Frontiers of Faith by AnnaLee Conti c 2002. All rights reserved.

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