This Week's Story

He was a man on assignment in a land he loved.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Big Footprints, part one

Vince Joy left big footprints in the Copper River Valley of Alaska. Sometimes people can’t identify his footprints, even though they step into them. His vision led to Faith Hospital, KCAM radio station, Alaska Bible College, chapels scattered throughout the vast valley, and the availability of local electricity.

His mom remembered, “When Vince was a little boy, he loved Jesus. All through school kids called him Preacher. Sometimes their voices spoke with respect, and sometimes with a nasty bite.” Whatever they thought about him, Vince wasn’t intimidated.

One day he was running track at his high school in New Jersey and talking to a friend about Jesus. At the same time, he became convinced, “God wants me to serve Him in Alaska.” He couldn’t explain what happened, but he accepted the direction.

By age 23 he was in the Copper River Valley in Alaska with a family. It was 1937. He and his wife were pioneer missionaries. For years, he had been preparing! Everything he had found to read

about Alaska, he’d read. He’d talked to people who had been there. He had attended Moody Bible Institute, preached, and taught classes.

He was an outdoors guy, handy with equipment for emergencies and construction. He was high energy, loved music, sang in many music groups and often on radio station WMBI in Chicago.

Years later a friend of his, Colonel Titus, wrote, “This guy was a whiz at about any type of work you could dream up from digging wells, tearing down a car engine and rebuilding same, plumber deluxe, medicine man, family psychiatrist and much more—wound up emulating me as a licensed PILOT!”

The day Vince flew into the Valley he walked up to a guy and said, “I’m a missionary who has come to stay!”

The guy, Harry Johns, muttered to himself, “That’s not much of an idea.” In years to come Harry became an Ahtna native chief and a Christian pastor.

Soon Vince was visiting Ahtna natives and white people scattered throughout the immense valley. He travelled Alaska style, which might be ice-hopping to cross the Copper River. No bridge was available.

His wife Beckie wrote, “One time Vince fell in while crossing back over the river. He went up to his waist and thought he was in the river till his feet hit a piece of ice and he realized it was an overflow. By the time he climbed out and walked to the roadhouse, the ice had to be cracked off his legs before he could get up the steps.”

Vince wrote about his river crossings, “It is the only way across…on the other shore I thank the Lord for the safety He gave and then turn to business at hand. I walk to the cabins of the natives nearest the water and tell them the Story. They listen but some cannot understand. The younger natives tell them in their own language the words of Christ as I talk.”

When people called for Vince, he went to them. Elizabeth Pete, one of the Ahtna people wrote, “When people died, we have way—lay down on the floor with hands over head. Vince used to lay down on floor with Indians. We never see white people do that, before. Those days nobody white ever visit us just Vince.”

This is Barbara Steiner interrupting Vince’s story. Soon we’ll get better acquainted with Vince’s family and footsteps.

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