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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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Displaying 1–3 of 3 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!!


February 21, 2012  12:04pm

I'm happy Richard is serving as an ambassador for Christ to the Indian people. Rather than run away from the biblical title of Christian, I would aim to purify and redefine it. After all, the name of Jesus has been used to persecute people in the inquisition (the society of Jesus, the Jesuits) and crusades, yet we are not ashamed of Jesus. As Peter says, "If anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name." Glory in the name Christian and treat it as a badge of honor. As Agrippa said to Paul, a representative of that outlawed religion, "Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”


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