Dedicated Missionary Returns to Last Frontier

April 06, 2016 | Ken Crawford

The village of Savoonga has a population of about 800 Native Alaskans. The small community lies close to the Arctic Circle at the northeast tip of St. Lawrence island, just off the coast of Siberia.

After more than 20 years with little or no missionary presence in this village, Bill and Eloise Hawkes from North Carolina consented in 2008 to be volunteer missionaries there. Both were recently retired nurses who chose to leave their home church, family and children to live in the Arctic and minister to this village of Siberian Eskimos. Their dedication and presence has been a blessing to the church.

This year, the pair brought the community together during the holidays with a Christmas program featuring the local children. The program was a huge hit in the village; the church was packed with people waiting to get in. Savoonga’s 25 members were excited to see such support for the church.

After Christmas, the couple returned to North Carolina, where Bill had a surgical procedure. He was recuperating nicely when he died suddenly. His passing left Eloise without her life companion but still committed to minister to the people in Savoonga. 

This month she returns to take up residence in her little parsonage in Savoonga and meet the needs of the folks there. That’s called missionary dedication.