Edgar Caldwell was born in a land of extremes. The 18-year-old hails from Barrow, Alaska, America's northernmost city, which has alternating seasons of 24 hours of sun and darkness, and equally stark rhythms of life.
"I got into alcohol and drugs as an experiment," he says while flipping burgers as his Anchorage church prepares for a congregational supper. "But once you start something, your friends will keep pushing you till they get their way."
Three years ago, he came to Anchorage without a clear focus on his future. But the relocation turned out to be a life-changing step in his spiritual development. Not long after arriving in Alaska's largest city, the Inupiat Eskimo unexpectedly found himself heading to church at his cousin's invitation.
"She got me to attend by introducing me to a friend,"
he smiles, admitting that the friend was a young woman. After much discussion with church members, Caldwell made a Christian commitment at Anchorage Native Assembly of God. The church in the city's downtown has been his favorite hangout since then. Tonight is no different as he cooks food for a revival; practical ministry has replaced partying.
NATIVE YOUTH AT RISK
As a teenage Alaskan Native, Caldwell embodies all of the complexities of being a young American with a rich ethnic legacy living in contemporary, multicultural America.A significant number of Native youth never make the passage from childhood to young adult that Caldwell has made. Alaska's young Natives (15–24 years old) have a death rate more than twice that of their counterparts in the other 49 states. They are seven times more likely to commit suicide and three times more likely to die as the result of accidents. Infant mortality is 50 percent higher among the state's ...1