ccm Cross 0017
September 26, 2011
Henry Bell Story
Kenny Lake, Alaska
ccm Cross #0017
GPS/DMS 61.7192° N, 144.9483° W
Additional photos after Testimony
2861 cdd The Gospel Speaker
Cyber Daily Devotion l
Volume 12 Number 209
Today’s Author: Pastor Bill
Scripture: Isaiah 57:1
“God is protecting them from the evil to come” NLT
The Alaskan winter in 1954-55 was cold. And for one man, Henry Bell — an influential leader of the Athabasca Indians, in the Copper Valley — it was the coldest he ever felt. Henry was walking with two of his children in 50 degrees below zero weather. The cold was biting and walking in the snow was tough. It wasn’t long while walking in the icy cold — when Henry — with a pint of whisky in one hand and holding on to his children with the other — just sat down.
Henry was at the end. Perhaps the end of his life but more importantly the end of drinking alcohol. Henry heard about Jesus but he was not walking with him. Instead he was running as fast as he could away from him as a drunk.
Now he was sitting in an icy cold snow bank with the wind whistling all around him on an empty road — he picked up the bottle of whisky and made a decision. Rather than take a drink Henry placed the bottle on the ground and challenged God, “Jesus if you are real — get me and the kids out of this mess and I will stop drinking. Jesus, I give my heart to you. Please send me someone to teach me about your ways so I can tell others.”
Just before Henry and his children were to pass out from hypothermia a car stopped to see what was on the side of the road. It was Tommy Thompson driving who had just arrived from Ireland. Tommy was a traveling evangelist. He picked the three up and saved their lives. This was the start of a special Holy Spirit relationship between Tommy and Henry. Tommy was teacher and mentor — together the two of them began to systematically preach and teach salvation in Jesus throughout the Athabasca Indians.
Tommy eventually moved on and that left Henry to minister to his own people. Henry knew Tommy was an Evangelist but wanted no part of that title. So when he spoke Henry humbly introduced himself as “The Gospel Speaker.”
And speak the Gospel he did.
Henry had challenged Jesus with his very life and the lives of his children. And Jesus provided his salvation — salvation from alcohol — salvation from death on that icy highway — and salvation for his soul — for all eternity.
Henry had a sixth grade education when he first opened the Bible. As Henry read the scriptures they came alive. What he lacked in formal education the Holy Spirit compensated with Biblical wisdom and insight. Henry became another example — just like me — of how God does not call the equipped — He equips the called.
Henry became known as the Gospel Speaker and took the message of salvation to the entire Athabasca Indians. Over the next 40 plus years Henry traveled from village to village declaring the Glory of God.
John Schuler and I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Debbie — Henry Bell’s youngest daughter in Kenny Lake, Alaska. During the interview I asked, “Debbie, do you have any written stories of Henry that I could read for the devotion I’m going to write.” Debbie looked at me with a quizzical gaze on her face and answered, “The Athna (short for Athabasca) as a tradition do not write things down. We pass our information along from generation to generation.”
As we talked I asked for permission to write Henry’s testimony for the cross — Debbie agreed. Our mission in Alaska was now coming to an end. We had come to plant three crosses for the Lord and learned we were sent to encourage a church, affirm Pastor Len and his family for their faithful work and to write and preserve the powerful testimony of Henry Bell “The Gospel Speaker.”
Henry had touched the entire Athabasca Nation as a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Without our visit Henry’s testimony would have been lost from history. But now the testimony of Henry Bell is presented to “Give God Glory” — you can see the Henry Bell Cross and Debbie in the picture at the top of this page.
Prayer: Father thank you for indwelling Henry Bell with your Holy Spirit power which touched the lives of the entire Athabasca Nation. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Henry Bell Cross being delivered
John and Pastor Len prepare for concrete
Debbie’s home in the foothills of the mountains
This is a Salmon wheel in the fore front of the mountain.
All along the Copper River is where the Athabasca catch
an abundance of salmon. They cannot sell the salmon
but they are able to trade for goods and services.
This is the plaque on the Henry Bell cross
giving God the Glory for all Henry
accomplished in his lifetime for Jesus.