This article by Jay Wintermeyer, North Pacific Union Conference Gleaner editor, was originally published by North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) GleanerNow.com and is shared here with permission.
Looking at the Spokane River and the snowcapped mountains in the distance, one might think Spokane, Washington, idyllic. Look a little deeper and the picture changes rapidly. Washington's second largest city isn't even close to paradise.
For its size, Spokane is home to one of the highest crime rates in America. Spokane County has significantly more drug felonies than any other county in the state. Add in the high rate of violent crime, drug addiction and suicide, and the darkness and deep need are very evident.
"This city is our largest mission field," says Minner Labrador, Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) president. "We've served in Spokane for more than 100 years, but, now more than ever, we are needed."
An Invitation and Open Doors
Several years ago civic leaders reached out to faith-based organizations in an effort to better serve Spokane's growing needs. City leaders invited religious leaders to attend an all-day conference at Whitworth College. The conference met to answer two questions: What makes God weep over Spokane and what can faith-based organizations do to help Spokane?