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This Week in AG History Nov 26 1967

This Week in AG History -- Nov. 26, 1967

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During the 1950s and 1960s, a number of children’s homes were operating in Alaska, with many of these directed by Assemblies of God home missionaries or local churches. One of these was the Juneau Children’s Home, which was started by missionaries Lyle and Helen Johnson in their home in 1934. One of the first children they took in was Lillian Lehtosarri, who later married Alvin Capener and became a missionary to Alaska.

In about 1937 or 1938, the Johnsons bought a house on Glacier Avenue in Juneau. This was the start of what became known as Johnson’s Children Home and later was called the Juneau Children’s Home. Undaunted by a destructive fire in 1952, the Johnsons repaired the home. In 1953 they added a dormitory and later added other improvements.

After Helen Johnson passed away in 1967, Gus and Evelyn Peterson took over as administrators of the Juneau Children’s Home. The Nov. 26, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel reported on what Christmas was like at the children’s home. Evelyn Peterson remembered Christmas from the previous year. She wrote, “As I stood looking at the tree with the gifts surrounding it, I couldn’t control the stream of tears; for I realized this would be the first Christmas filled with cheer, happiness, and meaning for many of our children.”

Peterson reported that the parents of one of the children at the home, Susan, were alcoholics. “Christmas to her held little meaning,” she said, “except for dark memories of chaotic scenes and extreme violence, after which her parents would slump into a state of unconsciousness.” Once Christmas arrived, Susan was awestruck and excited by the lovely tree and the many gifts for the children. She was especially overjoyed that one of the gifts, a large baby doll, was for her.

Christmas to the children at the home was a new experience. One by one the children each took a peek at the oven. “What are those big things?” some questioned. Turkey had never been on their dinner menu before. “Carving the turkeys with 35 pairs of eyes watching was quite an undertaking,” Peterson recalled, “but we finally accomplished the task amid the ohs and ahs of all our little helpers.”

Once dinner was ready, “each member of our large family sat quietly in his or her place with bowed head,” Peterson said, “all lifting their hearts together as we prayed.”

Similar scenes could be shared regarding other children’s homes in Alaska and Hillcrest Children’s Home of the AG in Hot Springs, Arkansas (established in 1944). Several other administrators followed the Petersons, and the name was changed to Alaskan Youth Village. In 1977, Alaskan Youth Village was relocated to another part of Juneau and eventually included three homes on 10 acres of land. It closed in 1991, after 57 years of continual operation.

Currently AG U.S. Missionaries Brian and Linda Staub operate Haven House Foster Care in Big Lake Alaska, near Wasilla. The Assemblies of God also operates COMPACT Family Services in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which includes Hillcrest Children’s Home and Highlands Maternity Home.

Read “Christmas in Juneau,” by Evelyn V. Peterson on pages 7-8 of the Nov. 26, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Only Believe!” by C. M. Ward

• “Pardon and Healing,” by Andrew Murray

• “The Lord’s Healing Touch,” by Louis H. Hauff

• “Questions on the Holy Spirit,” by Ernest S. Williams

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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