Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Down Town Ministry in Portland Oregon

It’s been said that there are more dogs on the streets of Portland than there are Christians. At least that’s what one church planter in Portland has said. Portland has long been considered a bastion of political liberalism, social progressiveness, and eclectic spirituality. It’s a tough nut for Conservative Christians to crack, but it’s not without hope. No matter what the lay of the land is like, Christianity always has a place at the table, even in the most vile places. When the chips are down, both socially and spiritually, Christianity shines. Darkness is ubiquitous in down town Portland. On the one hand there is the darkness of spiritual wickedness, which manifests itself from the “rebels without a cause” who roam the streets from Burnside to Clay, to the surreptitious business man who plans his next scam while walking through Washington Park. On the other hand there is the darkness of spiritual oppression, which can be found from the down and out drug addict living under the Burnside Bridge, to the up and out high rise executive who has everything, including an empty soul. Christianity is a light for such darkness and in down town Portland there are several light houses bringing the light of Christ in to this darkness.

One such place is Grace Bible Church on 12th and Clay, led by Pastor Ken Garrett. It was during a dark time in my life when I met Ken Garrett on the streets of Portland doing one of the things he loves most, street ministry. At the time, I was renovating a 13 story apartment complex across the street from the church. It was a Saturday, which happened to be both a work day for me and for the church. I was on the street supervising the placement of several pieces of mechanical equipment on the roof of the apartment complex, which required a massive crane that blocked the entire street, and Ken was on the sidewalk supervising a work group from the church performing a variety of exterior fix-ups around the building. We had an instant connection as we met on the street to discuss our common roll on the street that day. As we talked in the midst of the activities going on around us we found out that we had a lot in common, including a common Seminary heritage. I had coffee with Ken the following week and told him my story, which at the time involved some pastoral disappointments that were eating me up inside. I had a few issues to work out with God and Ken helped bring the light of Christ to bear upon my issues and my heart. It was a pastor pastoring a pastor. But, that is what Christians do and that is what churches like Grace Bible can be for places of darkness like down town Portland. Pam and I now call Grace Bible church our home church and place of service. It is truly a light house where the people of God are living testimonies of darkness turned to light. If you need the light of Jesus in your life, or if you need a place where you can join with others shining the light of Christ, come and check out Grace Bible Church.

1 comment:

Kenny said...

I am humbled at your kind words, Joe, and very grateful for your friendship, brother. Blessings,Ken