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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.

Interns will volunteer in after-school programs for tutoring and sports, attend powwows, and spend time with native elders, church, government and business leaders.

Twiss said the internship will draw applicants from across the country but the focus of the program is serving the youth, particularly Native American youth, in Portland.

"We are talking about advancing education, culture, family and spirituality; ultimately, we are helping youth navigate the challenges of life successfully."

Somber statistics for Native American youth is one of the driving motivations for The Salmon Nation, Twiss said.

"The [high school] graduation rate for Native Americans is one of the lowest in the nation, and we have among the highest numbers of kids in the foster-care system in Portland. We have huge economic disparities in Portland," he said.

One of the projects that interns will undertake is developing an economic plan for the house.

"They have to have the skills to succeed in that world rather than feel victimized by it, so they will work with business leaders in the community in actually developing a business plan," explained Twiss, noting that the details will largely depend upon the students.

Interns will also minister to the elderly, such as providing transportation for medical services.

"We want to serve the entire community, from youth to the elders, because that is how the community works," Twiss said. "We want to ask the question, 'How can a Christ-follower engage in loving conversation with those who differ religiously, culturally and ideologically?"

Richard has been able to energize that conversation, from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine, no matter the venue.

"Richard can speak with integrity as a follower of Christ, [even] in a bar," said Woodley of his friend. "That's the magic."

Freelance journalist Cornelia Becker Seigneur is the author of Images of America: West Linn and the faculty adviser for Muse student magazine at Multnomah University. Reach her at CorneliaSeigneur.com.

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Comments Are Closed

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?

RON NUSSLI

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.

Shasiti

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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