Alabama to Alaska: Trusting God on journey to The Last Frontier

Alabama to Alaska: Trusting God on journey to The Last Frontier

By Maggie Jones
University of Mobile

A 5,000-mile drive, cabin explosion and lack of a job did not keep Luke Jones from following God’s calling on his life — to move from Alabama to Alaska. The University of Mobile graduate was confident in one thing — that God had called him to be obedient, to trust even when he could not understand.

It all began in January of 2016 with a meeting in Mobile.

Jimmy Stewart, evangelism and church development director at the Alaska Baptist Resource Network, had traveled to Mobile to visit his daughter and look for students who were studying to be worship leaders.

He knew UM had an excellent worship leadership degree in the Alabama School of the Arts because two of Jimmy’s children are alumni of UM’s music department.

Heart and vision

Luke was a senior worship leadership major when Andy Wood, assistant professor of worship leadership, arranged a meeting for him with Jimmy.

Luke heard Jimmy’s heart and vision for Alaska and knew the Lord was calling him there. Jimmy had a vision for putting young worship leaders in churches to try to reach lost young people, as well as for leading the Baptist churches of Alaska to reach the modern culture.

Jimmy told Luke, “If you will come to Alaska, I will find you a job.”

So a few weeks after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in worship leadership, Luke drove 5,000 miles from his hometown of Birmingham to Wasilla, Alaska, hoping to interview with a church there.

Just two days after Luke’s arrival, Jimmy was injured in an explosion at his cabin. The only person Luke knew in Alaska, the person who was supposed to help him find a job, was in the hospital fighting for his life.

“I had to trust God more because at this point I was on my own,” Luke said. “Growing up as a missionary kid, I was given a great example of what it truly means to trust God in all circumstances.”

Thankfully, Jimmy survived and, after a long road of recovery, is doing well. As for Luke, a month of working as an interim worship leader at First Baptist Church, Wasilla, led to a staff position as minister of worship arts.

After a quick trip back to Alabama to marry his hometown sweetheart, Meredith, they began their life together in Alaska. Three and a half years later, Luke continues to lead worship at First, Wasilla. He also consults for the Alaska Baptist Resource Network to teach and train other churches on how they can raise the bar in their worship ministries.

“Even though the process of getting to Alaska was a bit unhinged, I can see God’s hand in everything that led me here. I was confident in my call to go because God gave me an unexplainable peace,” said Luke.

“Watching people grow in faith, confidence and musical ability as we’ve pushed for greater excellence in everything we do has been a huge blessing,” he said.

Luke expressed his gratitude for the faculty and staff who poured into his life while he studied at UM.

“I had people who really gave me the tools I needed to follow God’s calling on my life,” he said.

‘He will lead me on’

Luke learned the practical skills he needed to lead worship and teach others from many UM professors, in particular, Steve Bowersox, chair of the department of worship leadership and assistant professor of worship.

“Dr. Bowersox not only taught me skills in worship technology and how to begin modernizing a traditional church, but he also inspired me to have the tenacity to follow through when things get hard,” Luke said.

The lessons Luke learned at UM have encouraged him to seek excellence while working with churches of all sizes in Alaska.

“When I felt God calling me to ministry, I didn’t know where that call would take me, but I know He has led me this far and He will lead me on,” Luke said.

“Satan has certainly tried to keep me from following God’s call to Alaska, but he has not been successful. I know this is where I am supposed to be even when I don’t understand why or how God will work it out,” he said.