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A Native Faith: Richard Twiss Shapes Portland's Youth and Beyond

A Native Faith: Richard Twiss Shapes Portland's Youth and Beyond

In a city still skeptical of white Christianity, Twiss's cross-cultural witness is gaining a hearing among citizens and leaders alike.

As Twiss has shifted his ministry locally in recent years, it is clear that it takes time to earn a place where one's voice is heard.

For Twiss, it took significantly reducing his travel and speaking schedule to invest in Portland's Native community, which he says numbers 38,000.

"Richard expressed a genuine desire to connect with the local Native American community and serve as a connector between individuals and organizations with interests in education, community development, service work, and all around wellness in our community," said Donita S. Fry, Portland Youth and Elders Council Organizer within Portland's Native American Youth and Family Center.

As part of his local work, Twiss is a board member of the NAYA Family Center and participates in the Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable, a group of executive directors or senior staff from the 28 Indian organizations located in Portland.

He's presented an indigenous worldview framework for neighborhood planning for the mayoral staff of Portland, and regularly speaks at local higher education institutions both secular and Christian. He will also be speaking at the upcoming Justice Conference being held in Portland next week.

"The Portland-Vancouver area doesn't realize what a rich gift this transition is for them," said Woodley.

Twiss seeks to live out his Christian faith without compromising the protocols of his culture, and emboldens others to do the same.

"Along with many friends, we're helping to inspire a cultural revitalization within a redemptive biblical framework," says Twiss. "For the first time Native people could love themselves as Native people, whereas in the past the message was 'God loves you, but He doesn't like you. No more drumming music, no more powwows, no more ceremonial traditions of our culture.'"


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Displaying 1–5 of 18 comments

Steve Skeete

February 12, 2013  1:30pm

Richard Twiss (may he rest in peace)said, according to CT "I am a follower of Jesus, though I would not call myself a Christian". While I can understand why the late brother and many others would not want to identify with 'what "missionaries and Christianity' historically did to native and other peoples, I wonder whether it is not naive to refuse to use the word 'Christian' to describe oneself when it is an authentic New Testament term (see Acts 11:26; 26:28). 1 Peter 4:16 says 'if you suffer for being a 'Christian' do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name'. When one uses the name 'Christian' it may undoubtedly call to mind the evils committed in that name. It should however, also remind us of the countless many who, renewed in heart and mind, lived and died for the one in whom they were made 'new creations'. One may indeed have to walk a fine line to be effective at cross-cultural witness, but should one do this at the expense of denying a genuine New Testament name?


February 11, 2013  12:55pm

Loved the article but would have been nice if someone proofed it before publishing since it appears at times the article is written without taking into consideration his tragic passing! He was clearly a prophetic voice among us!!

Patricia Clowers

April 18, 2012  1:04pm

I have known you Richard and your family for many years I am so greatly blessed and encouraged by all that you have accomplished. God has put you here for such a time as this. Even to the White HOuse.. My prayer is for all those God puts in your path to know the love and peace of Jesus even though there have been big mistakes from white people like me and others who don't know the way to communitcate some times. God is the Lover of our Souls and He sends mighty Warriors to heal the hurting and the lost. To bind up the broken hearted. You and all your family and ministry are mighty warriors. Shalom Shalom

wendy peterson

April 13, 2012  12:18pm

I continue to be enamored with the breadth and depth of your work and your perseverance, Richard. Thanks for leading the way for not just one generation, but many. May God continue to give your family open doors and opportunities to speak the name of Jesus where others meet closed doors.


April 12, 2012  8:04pm

It amazes me that you could still turn towards Christianity instead of run away from it after what Missionaries and Christianity have Historically done to your people. I'm not so sure I could be quite so forgiving. There are many people whom call themselves Christians on this internet that say you cannot intergrate your culture and religion into Christianity. That you are a false prophet because it has to be 100% "their" way or it is blasphmy. Haha! Guess there will always be people like that. I am not a Christian, I am a spiritualist but I read your book and was very moved by your efforts to bring both Christianity and your culture together. Good Luck and God Bless you Richard Twiss.


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