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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.

Later, as Twiss began searching spiritually, he dabbled in everything from Hinduism to Buddhism; and, in 1974, he was also presented with the Christian faith while living in Maui, Hawaii.

"I was a beach bum, did drugs, partied, slept on the beach, chased girls, lived off of food stamps, and started over the next day," he explained.

One day while hitchhiking Twiss was picked up by two evangelicals who shared Christ with him.

"But I didn't want anything to do with their 'white man's' religion; I cussed them out and told them to let me out."

Yet, in 1974, alone during a drug overdose in Hawaii, Twiss recalls the words of the Christians. "I yelled at the top of my lungs, 'Jesus if you are real, would you forgive me, would you come into my life?' I immediately felt the most peaceful that I have in my entire life."

Since embracing Jesus, Twiss has been trying to figure out how to live out his faith as a Native American while inspiring others to do the same.

He moved to Alaska where he met his future wife, Katherine, and was ordained through his local church. After moving to Vancouver, Washington, in 1981, he pastored a community church there from 1982 to 1995.

In 1997 he and Katherine founded Wiconi International. With their message of reconciliation, community, and spirituality, Twiss has spoken internationally and nationally , including invitations from Focus on the Family, Campus Crusade for Christ and Promise Keepers. In addition, Twiss has offered diversity staff training for the Immigration and Naturalization Service and he's spoken as part of auxiliary events at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

"He has had an impact around the world," said Randy Woodley, a Keetoowah Cherokee Indian and director of intercultural and indigenous studies at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland. "Richard is known around indigenous people to challenge them to use their own culture to understand Christ and his kingdom."


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Displaying 2–6 of 18 comments


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.

the cote' family

April 08, 2012  2:48pm

came across this article in a random search, brought tears to the eyes & smiles to our faces as always, wiconi remains in our prayers, may all of you continue to receive great blessings of Creator's Wisdom & Strength in building the healing bridge between our communities that is so desperately needed we love you all!


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