The air was cool, but skies were sunny on that Alaskan June day of 1959 when Wally and Alice Bays arrived at Victory Bible Camp with their three-week-old baby girl Cheri. Their mission was to start a high school in Alaska for Native young people. There was a great need in Alaska for educators since the state still did not have public schools in the villages. Soon after arriving, the staff introduced the Bays to the rough, unfinished house that would become their home and a vacant building that would become the school. This was the beginning of Victory High School and the Bay’s journey with Arctic Missions (now InterAct Ministries).
Only four students came that first year, 1959 -1960. One of them was Clara Shangin from Perryville, on the Alaska Peninsula (an Aleut village). In the November 12, 1960 edition of the Victory Torch (VHS school newsletter), Clara wrote an editorial that showed her devotion to growing in Jesus.
“This is my second year at Victory High School. I came here because I wanted to learn more about Christ. I have found real peace. You can have it, too…To know Christ is my goal, and it is wonderful to know that I am a child of God. If your goal is Christ, you can find real happiness and security.”
As fitting with the mission of InterAct Ministries, discipleship was at the core of Victory High School. Wally and Alice encouraged each student individually in their walk with the Lord. In the April 1960 edition of Arctic Mission News, Wally wrote about the life change he saw in Clara and her heart to share the gospel.
“The other night in (the) prayer meeting, Clara prayed that students from our school would go back to their villages and tell others of Christ. Then she prayed that she might go back to her village (to share the gospel).”
In 1974 the Bays moved to Canada to serve at the Native Institute of Canada. Later Wally and Alice went on to other ministries with InterAct, including church planting, education and training until the Lord took Alice home in 1995. Wally continued his work in Canada for three more years until leadership proposed a change.
Wally continued to minister to former students of Victory High School and the Bible training schools. He stayed connected through alumni newsletters, phone calls, emails and personal visits where possible. Like the apostle Paul’s love for those he led to Christ, Wally encouraged the Native believers to stay strong in their faith and was a lifeline to many. When asked, “Was it worth it all?” Wally responded with a resounding, “Yes!”