CrossCountry Church - Wasilla, Alaska
It started with a vision and a passion for missions. In July of 2006 Church Planter Mike Balos, his wife Angela, and their 6-year-old son, Michael, moved from Chickamauga, Georgia to Alaska in answer to the call from God to minister in Alaska. Mike and Angela had served in Southern Baptist Home Missions in Maine before their time in Georgia. At the invitation of the Hatcher Pass Baptist Association, with financial support from Southern Baptist Convention missions giving and significant support from their home church in Georgia they began a church plant in the Mat-Su Valley.
The Balos family began a home Bible study in Palmer and some of that group became the core for what would become CrossCountry Church (CCC). Our new church had its first formal worship service in June 2007 at the Mat-Su Cinema building in Wasilla. From the beginning Pastor Mike chose and committed to a clear disciple, evangelism and every-member-ministry plan or strategy known as “The Purpose Driven Church.” God blessed our “baseball diamond action plan,” with Membership, Maturity, Ministry and Missions’ classes and consistent 40 Day Biblical Teaching Campaigns. The resulted was both spiritual and numerical growth. Our pastor led church was able to enlist personnel to lead in worship, administration, and missions. Two additional pastors, Gary Bearce and Dr. Samuel Abbate were called to serve alongside Teaching Pastor Mike to equip the saints to do “every member ministry.”
Our growing church family met in the Mat-Su Cinema for the next several years and began looking for a place to meet along the Parks Highway or Trunk Road between Palmer and Wasilla. The Cinema itself closed in 2010 but we were asked that our church remain in the building until the property sold. We were blessed with a very visible location for a new work. The sale price was too costly for a new church and for others, so a rental arrangement at the theater went on for the next several years, while participating in ministry events such as the 4th of July Parade, Mayor’s Picnic and State Fair Ministry to introduce our church to others.
In May 2017, our church moved to another very visible location, a large warehouse on the Parks Highway, and worshipped there for a while but we were eventually outbid in our efforts to buy this property. At that point, the church leadership found an ideal 7-acre piece of land with a farmhouse and barn at 7010 E. Fireweed Road near the Mat-Su Hospital and rented this property as the pastor’s home, with a desire to purchase. Again, this price was way too high for a church plant, but the location was in the original target location we had planned for 8 years earlier. The church began to pray, and God has provided several miracles as a result.
From the beginning CCC had a vision for making disciples and doing Great Commission ministry/missions. Celebrate Recovery (CR), a Christ-Centered, 12 Step Program for anyone struggling with hurts, habits, or hangups of any kind was a significant part of that vision. In the midst of all the moves, we struggled for a place to meet and in the summer of 2018 Pastor Mike Balos, our new CR Champion Mike Maddox and Pastor Rodney Kovtynovich of the Schrock Road Community Church arranged for CrossCountry’s CR small groups and celebration to use their location in the evenings. God has rewarded our desire to help the hurting people with key leadership, numerical growth, and places to meet. Schrock Road Community Church and CCC were both members of the Hatcher Pass Baptist Association. The Schrock church was just about to close due to the loss of membership. We were then offered the facility and 7 acres! This large roomy building on the far west side of Wasilla was located about 14 miles from the hub of where the CrossCountry congregation had hoped to build but we had experienced significant struggles with rental worship facilities. We really needed a home. The CrossCountry congregation realized God was opening a big, big door for a multi-campus ministry and that we realized we must enlarge our vision! We were given the Schrock property and then we made the commitment to buy the highly visible 7 acres Fireweed property for a future campus.
On Labor Day weekend 2018, CCC began Sunday worship services at the Schrock facility and one week later began an early service at the Extreme Fun Center in Wasilla (within a mile of the Fireweed property). Now CrossCountry maintains the two Sunday morning worship services in two locations and offers the Thursday night Celebrate Recovery Worship Celebration in our efforts to reach the entire Mat-Su Valley. Our church absorbed the few remaining Schrock church members and sadly, Pastor Rodney of the former Schrock congregation, who was a big part of our “new vision to expand,” died on December 10, 2018.
In April 2019, the church family was able to close on the new Fireweed Campus. We remain committed to building on that property. It currently houses our pastor’s home, church offices, meeting rooms and a huge three-story barn. The top floor of the barn contains much needed church storage, the main floor has a summer meeting lodge (youth activities, etc.), and the basement of our barn is home to Alaska Baptist Disaster Relief (DR). It is a part of our ongoing Alaska missions commitment. DR’s vehicles and tools for various relief and concern ministries are housed in the basement which has four garage bays.
In March 2020 Teaching Pastor Mike Balos resigned and has returned to Maine to pastor a church there. CCC moves on in ministry and discipleship to honor God. Based on the foundations that our founding pastor established; as a church family we are committed to the inerrant Word of God, in having daily integrity in all we do to accomplish the Great Commission, local missions and discipleship thru ministries such as Celebrate Recovery and our Purpose Driven strategy. These include focused 40 Day campaigns, fellowship and encouragement thru small groups, and weekly worship attendance that honors God. This strengthens our caring fellowship within the church family and friends, as well as a cooperative relationship with other evangelicals in outreach.
We have made the best of the 2020 Covid-19 “life adjustment” by reaching out thru telephone ministry and live video while, at the same time, successfully raising funds for a $12,000 facelift of the Schrock Campus. Our prayer driven search team for a new lead or teaching pastor believes God will clearly guide this process and that our new leader will possess, yet personalize and contextualize these “high expectations” as our Teaching Pastor in the years ahead.