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  • Writer's pictureJanet Richey

Meet the Other Ministry

The honeymoon was over.

Save for a copy of the Financial Support Request Letter, the emails from Mel came to a screeching halt with all my excitement from the weeks before fading into the wintery months of November and December. Was it all just a dream?  

Wait!? Financial support request letter?  I couldn’t decide which was more absurd; the idea that I would have to ask people for money, or that they would actually give it. I had a lot to learn.


But God surrounded me with people overflowing with tact and wisdom, who gently guided me through this awkward part of this journey. This humbling feeling of inadequacy only strengthened my relationship with those who wanted to help. This passage immediately comes to mind:

Humility. I’m gonna need some work on that.   

Gaining Momentum

The anticipated email came from Mel in the middle of December, with an invitation. Every first Tuesday of the month LightShine Ministries holds a meeting, open to the public, where people can learn about current events and future projects. Mike Potts, a pastor at Copper Center Community Chapel in the early days of LightShine, was scheduled as the featured speaker, via livestream, and Mel encouraged the team to attend. With a cafeteria-style meal served before each meeting, I envisioned a Sunday School room flooded with headache-inducing fluorescent lighting, and long white tables, flanked with uncomfortable folding chairs.

I could not have been more wrong. Well, except for the chairs.

On January 2nd, with our Pastor Mike at the wheel, most team members, including several of their spouses, piled into the church van and headed to Lancaster County. Then, the strangest thing happened: I lost my voice. And my nerve. I was looking forward to getting to know my future teammates in that 40-minute drive, but wedged in the back of the van with the other women and only a few nervous words between us, I wondered how we would ever relate to one another stuffed in a commercial airplane at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. 

“Be anxious for nothing…”

I prayed for a settled heart.

The church's family center was cavernous and campy, like the entry to a lodge you’d find at a Bible conference center. Taking in the echoing sounds of people talking, and the savory smells of food from a slow cooker, I felt like I had walked into a family reunion with the wrong last name. Fortunately, that didn’t last long.

A First Tuesday at Manheim Brethren in Christ Church

Bob and Angie Newenschwander left PA in early May to start their new position as Base Director. Binge-watch their journey on their Facebook page in the link below.

After the meal, Tom Denlinger, co-founder and Ministry Director of LightShine asked us to gather around the giant monitor to be a part of the video call. It is on that screen where I would meet the many faces of LightShine Alaska.

Tom and Ruth Denlinger

Mike Potts, who came from the “Lower Forty-Eight” in the late 1960s, and his wife Adeline, a native of Eagle Village, charmed me with a front-row view of Alaska in a dialect all their own, which didn’t fit the stereotypes portrayed in some of the Alaska reality shows. I heard some of the Reverend Lewis in his mini-sermon and felt at home. I encourage you to check out his book “Tales Of the Trails In the Far North” which can be found on Amazon and other online retailers.

First Tuesday, April 2, 2024

We were introduced to Ron and Jean Paull two months later on that same giant screen. Ron is the current pastor at Copper Center Community Chapel and Jean is a worthy help-mate. We had the exciting opportunity to ask this couple what we could bring them from the Lower Forty-Eight. This thoughtful question came from Mae, a fellow team member, who had been thinking about the Apostle Paul’s care and concern for his companion Timothy.  Their answers were amusing and revealing. Ron half-jokingly asked for ammunition, and Jean, a quilter, asked for fabric unique to Pennsylvania. I think the entire team fell in love with both of them.  

Who wouldn’t? Look how cute they are! And they sound even cuter!

Ron and Jean Paull, hunter and quilter.


I have observed the leadership and volunteers at LightShine Ministries present themselves as unassuming servants with a taste for adventure and the absolutely fearless pursuit of bringing the Gospel to the residents of Alaska. They are a unique group and easy to like. With that in mind, I strongly encourage you to check out this link with the leadership team and their bios. Take special note to Mel and Carol Miller who worship alongside you at Living Water. 

Mel, our leader and his support team, Carol

Alaska Fun Facts

Mosquitos are legendary in Alaska and are often referred to as the state bird. (It’s actually the willow ptarmigan.)  According to an article from the Anchorage Daily News, the state’s permafrost prevents water from draining, which means the Arctic is full of small pools, where mosquitos live as larvae. From another source, if larvae go dormant, they can survive in temperatures that go below 50 degrees. Needless to say, we are going in with some preventative measures. 

The Real Alaska state bird, the willow ptarmigan, which is often hunted for food

Prayers Please

  • I introduced you to Ron and Jean Paull, our hosts at Copper Center. Paul is currently undergoing treatment that prevents him from being at his home during our time there. Please pray that these treatments will be successful. Please pray for Jean, as she has been working overtime in working out the logistics for our arrival. 

  • Pray for our leader Mel, as he sets off for Palmer, Alaska a few days early, to roll out the red carpet for the two teams arriving on the 7th. And pray for his wife Carol as she holds down the fort back home.

  • Finally, pray for unity within the Living Water team as we learn to work together and discover our purpose there. 

I leave you with a photo of the Living Water team, which was taken during our Team Building Project. More on that fun experience in the next blog.

L-R Lee Barkus, Pastor Mike, Cheryl Lytle, Jacob Dunkleberger (who will be taking this trip three days after high-school graduation) Mae Spradley, Elder Jim Rowell, Lynn Peters, Mel Miller our leader, me, Janet Richey, and Jason Dunkleberger, the other half of the father/son team.

With our Bibles, a few power tools, a servant's heart, and hopefully reliable internet, we can't wait to show you how God guides us in serving the people of Alaska.

Stay tuned!

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Jamie Etter
Jamie Etter
Jun 08

Thank you for keeping us informed . Boy I would love to hear about your Alaska trip sometime!

Jamie Etter


Carol Apgar
Carol Apgar
May 30

Janet, thanks for all of this good information! And I love the pictures where I can put faces to names. God will be with you as you make this journey north. I am excited to see what work you are involved in and more importantly how God uses this to grow your faith in Him! Prayers and much love from the Apgar family!

Janet Richey
Janet Richey
May 30
Replying to

Thanks to both you and Dave in your unwavering support over these past months. I am blessed beyond words.

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