Calvary Chapel in the Arctic

Calvary Chapel Ministers in the Arctic
Calvary Chapel Ministers in the Arctic

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To the Ends of the Earth: A Family’s Mission Legacy in the Arctic Circle—Part 2

Story by Carmel Flippen
Photos courtesy of David Markey

This is Part 2 of a three-part story about missionary David Markey and his family, serving the native people of the Arctic Circle. He is the son of the late George Markey and his wife Pam, veteran Calvary Chapel missionaries in Eastern Europe for many years. To read Part 1, click here.

Some names have been modified to protect ministry in this sensitive area.

Catalyzed by Quarantine

“When you’re taken out of the picture and can’t do anything, you realize how much God is still doing in people’s lives without human interference,” David reflected. During quarantine, he pastored mostly through Zoom calls; his flock learned to rely more on prayer than practical help, strengthening them spiritually. As the weather warmed and restrictions loosened, there was renewed excitement about gathering together—especially among the youth he leads at Good News Capetown. “Before this summer [2020], they were always getting on their phones,” he admitted. “I just wanted to grab it out of their hands and chuck it against the wall. This last meeting, I was shocked because their eyes were fixed on me. I felt like, Who are these people? It’s amazing to see them growing and maturing.”

People talking

David Markey (center), a Calvary Chapel missionary in the Arctic Circle, fellowships with friends Kostya and Rostislav at church. He is holding his daughter.

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Nearly every summer night they gathered around a campfire, having long discussions. No one wanted to leave. Two non-Christian teenage girls began joining them, but one night when food was being served, they suddenly left. Realizing they were upset, the youth group’s girls pursued them. “It turned out they were embarrassed because they didn’t have much food at home. [Our girls] told them to take whatever they needed. It was cool because the youth took the initiative.”

This January, the youth put on a three-day kids’ camp in the village where David had delivered the firewood. Due to limited sleeping space, “We basically brought them there and dropped them off. They did everything completely by themselves,” David declared. The teenagers cooked meals, gave out presents, and shared the Gospel with the native children through skits, songs, prayers, and outside activities—all in minus 30-degree weather. “Many people at Good News Capetown are there because someone came to their village when they were kids and told them about Jesus,” David testified. “It’s really neat to see our youth sowing those seeds today, and I think we’ll have some really cool fruit from it.”

People sitting talking

Tatyana, a church member, speaks with David about a worship song she has written in her native language.

Living the Legacy

God has been preparing David all his life for ministry. The son of missionaries George and Pam Markey, David moved to Ukraine at age 9, soon after the Iron Curtain fell. What George intended as a one-year trip became a life-long mission. David and his seven siblings attended public school, learning to speak the native language far more fluently than their parents. George frequently used them as translators—David recalls, as a young kid, reluctantly helping his father chat with his school’s bullies while the kids smoked on the playground equipment. “My father couldn’t speak the language, but he knew how to speak love,” David remembered. “His love for God and people is what I most admire about him.”

This love often motivated George to do things which seemed strange to his family, like buying a lawnmower for their 15th-floor apartment. He would ride down with it in the elevator to mow grass around their apartment building. One day, lawnmower in hand, he called for teenager David to join him. “Where are we going?” David asked. George answered, “You’ll see.” He pushed the lawnmower through Kiev’s streets to a kindergarten. George climbed the fence, then waited for David to get the lawnmower—and himself—over as well. Once inside, David mowed while George picked up broken glass around the school’s perimeter. What was important to George was that love was shown, not whether people knew why or by who.

Kids sitting in circle

Children in the tundra village enjoy an icebreaker game at the beginning of their three-day kids’ camp.

This puzzled David then; now it is one of many of his parents’ examples which greatly impact his own ministry approach. David continued, “He believed in the transformative power of grace because he’d seen it in his own life. He was always modeling boldness by going out of his comfort zone. Everyone thought he was the strangest person in the world, but they were drawn to him. Everyone waved to him; they all knew who he was and what he was about. Every time I was with him, I felt like I was living in a radical world.

“As for Mom, she was our rock. She knew every time the right thing to say, and how to say it. She was ready to face any challenge; it felt like they were made for her. They were a dynamic duo we are all trying to replicate. We were discipled just by being with them, because we wanted to emulate what we saw in their lives.” The Markey children have gone on to minister all over the world. In answer to Pam’s prayers, they have all found spouses willing to follow them to the ends of the earth. For David, however, the road there would be rocky.

Kids in line outside

Children excitedly wait for a game to begin in minus 30-degree January weather.


All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.