“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,” wrote hymnist Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Footsteps of Faith is my story of God’s direction, provision, and protection in my life thus far that gives me hope while facing an uncertain future, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Growing up in a missionary family in Alaska in the fifties and sixties, surrounded by the beauties of creation that portrayed a God bigger than His vast domain, I became aware of
my Creator at a young age. From my parents’ and grandparents’ examples of living by faith, I too learned to trust God to supply my every need.
How did an Alaskan girl end up in ministry in New York State?
In 1917, my grandparents, Charles and Florence Personeus, left their Bible college in Rochester, New York, to travel to the Territory of Alaska to serve as missionaries. They had no idea what it would cost to get there, no promise of financial support, and no contacts there. They went by faith in God’s promises. During their 65 years in Alaska, God supplied their every need. My parents followed in their footsteps in ministry in Alaska, and I too felt a call to Christian service during my freshman year at Seattle Pacific College (now University), where I was studying music and fulfilling my dream of attending a Christian college. At that time, I prayed that God would use the circumstances of my life to lead me into the area of ministry He had for me.
But God had another plan.
My watershed moment that would change the course of my life occurred that spring, on Good Friday of 1964, when a 9.2 earthquake hit Southcentral Alaska, causing widespread devastation. Tsunamis and fires wiped out the industrial area of Seward, where my family narrowly escaped being swept away. With no job available that summer, I was financially unable to return to my Christian college.
When I learned that Ford Foundation had set up an earthquake-relatedness scholarship that could only be used in an Alaska college, I transferred to the University of Alaska Fairbank, where I could at least continue my education. There, at the university’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship prayer meeting, I met the man who would become my husband. Bob Conti planned a military career, but after much prayer, I felt he was the one God planned for me. At graduation, he received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army, and we married three weeks later.
Bob’s testimony spans three continents—from a tree in Greece to a dark night in Alaska to a bloody battlefield in Vietnam. Through a historic flood in Fairbanks two months after our wedding, a fear-filled tour in Vietnam from which Bob was the only officer on his advisory team to come home alive, and an Army assignment in Rhode Island, God directed our footsteps into fulltime ministry in the Northeast. Exactly 60 years after my grandparents left Rochester, New York, Bob and I spoke in a church in that city about our plans to start a new church in that state.
What do you hope people will get out of your story?
In Footsteps of Faith, I share our trials and triumphs, answers to prayer, and the lessons we learned along the way. I pray that you not only enjoy our stories, but also that our journey will give you, the readers, hope, comfort, and encouragement in the difficult times of your life. Thank you, Authors’ Lounge, for helping me to share my story.
Tell us about yourself.
An ordained minister, author, and teacher, I earned my B.A. in Music and Elementary Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and my M.A. in Bible at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. While my husband was studying for the ministry in Springfield, Missouri, I worked in the editorial area of Gospel Publishing House and began writing many articles, stories, and curriculum for their publications, which I continued to do for the next 25 years while in fulltime ministry. In 2002, I published Frontiers of Faith, the story of my grandparents’ 65 years in Alaska, and since then, the Alaskan Waters Trilogy of historical Christian novels.
In the churches my husband and I pastored for more than 35 years, I served as Minister of Christian Education and Music. In addition, I served on leadership teams in Christian Education and Women’s Ministries at the state level, teaching seminars and organizing conventions. I have also taught grade school, GED classes, Berean School of the Bible (an extension of Global University, Springfield, Missouri), and continue to teach classes in the New York School of Ministry, which trains pastors and teachers for ministry in local churches.
Now retired, Bob and I reside in the Mid-Hudson River Valley. In answer to our prayers, God blessed us with a son (our miracle), who lives nearby. He gave us five grandchildren, now adults, and a new great-granddaughter has recently joined our family. When I’m not writing, I love reading, scrapbooking and other arts and crafts, playing Scrabble, and doing crossword puzzles.
You can find me on my webpage at www.AnnaLeeConti.com.
My blog “Nuggets of Faith”: http://www.AnnaLeeConti.blogspot.com/