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Eskimos listening to the gospel on phongraph records, circa 1950
The cabin where the two women recordists met with the Indian chief
The vision is still alive after 60 years!
An expected invasion of Alaska during World War II prompted America to build a 1500-mile highway in the shortest possible time to transport their troops in order to counter any attack. Over this newly-built road drove two courageous women in 1947. They were armed with the conviction that God had called them to this cold country to record Bible stories in local Eskimo languages. These messages would then be put on phonograph records for distribution.
GRN founder Joy Ridderhof and her recording partner Ann Sherwood arrived in Eklutna, an Indian village at the Matanuska valley near the south coast of Alaska. The Indian chief welcomed them and as they sat in his cabin, he gave them his permission to do their recording work in his language. They did this with the help of the chief's wife.
Sixty years later, Lois, one of the chief's daughters, sat in that very same cabin telling a friend about those recordings made so many years ago. The friend was Roeli Elbersa, a Dutch missionary serving in Alaska.
They spoke about the work of Gospel Recordings (GRN). Over the years, many other ethnic languages had been added to the first 20 languages that had been recorded by Joy and Ann during their five-month stay. Lois and Roeli both agreed, in the same historic cabin, that the work in Alaska must continue as there were yet more indigenous languages that could benefit from recordings.
As a result of the contact Roeli had with the chief's daughter, she has since joined GRN. She returned to Holland where the work has been in need of leadership and has enthusiastically taken up the reins.