Tommy Thompson Bio 10 Wasilla

CHAPTER 10

Wasilla

One by one, family by family, the believers from Chitina were moving to Anchorage. The village school closed. We began sensing the Lord preparing us for a different work.

About that time, we were invited to move to Wasilla where the Valley Christian Children’s home was operated by Harold and Mabel Richards. Wasilla was little more than a dot on a map about 45 miles north of Anchorage, a far cry from the busy town of thousands of people today. The Richards cleaned out and remodeled an unused chicken coop, and we moved into it to await the Lord’s leading and for Brian to go to school.

We enjoyed helping out at the children’s home, and I became a member of its board of directors. It was a good work which the Richards originally started in their home in the southeast Alaskan community of Cordova; they had also planted a new assembly of believers in Cordova. The Richards were the first assembly missionaries to Alaska who had stayed for any significant length of time.

Their work in Cordova was transferred to Wasilla in the Matanuska Valley The Matanuska Valley has rich soil and good conditions for farming The U S government had offered subsidies to entice farmers to move there and establish dairy farms and raise crops This is where the world-famous giant cabbages are grown A number of these colonists from the Midwestern United States had moved there about 1935. Land was easy to buy, and soon, with lots of hard work, the Valley Christian Children’s Home was established. 

Harold’s widowed sister, Ethel Zinn, whom everyone lovingly referred to as Aunt Ethel, had retired from school teaching. At an age when other people think of resting, she moved to Alaska to help in this work. I will ever appreciate these dear saints, all of whom have now entered the presence of the Lord whom they served very faithfully.

I was asked to speak at a gathering of the six other Christian homes in the area. My text was 1 Corinthians 4:15. “Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”

My message was entitled “Pedagogue”, and its purpose was to encourage the children’s workers to see that one day their work would bear fruit. In a passing reference, I mentioned their own personal need to keep in communion with the Lord for spiritual growth. I said they should not think that a little church sermon on Sunday was sufficient because otherwise they would never mature and preachers would become like spiritual baby sitters. Little did I know that some “reverends” were in the audience and they were not pleased. Apparently, they went back and warned their “flock” about me.

However, John Martin, a businessman, enjoyed the message and came and told me so. “When you move to Anchorage,” he said to me, “I have a piece of property you will need and you can have it very reasonably.” We had not told anyone of our exercise about moving to Anchorage. “Who told you I would move to Anchorage?” I asked. He just smiled and said, “Oh, I just figured you would go there.”