Nestled in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula’s rugged coastline lies a community so remote the U.S. Postal Service hasn't had a local post office here since 1934.
Despite its secluded location, Queets, Washington, is home to roughly 300 Native Americans who are members of the Quinault Indian Nation. Every Sabbath, a lone Native elder, Conrad Williams, makes his way to the heart of the little community. He walks up a wooden ramp to the front of the small community church and unlocks door.
“I come here every Sabbath, hoping others will join me” says Williams.
The Adventist work among the Quinault people has dwindled in recent years. Many factors contribute to this, including the passing of older leadership, the relocation of members and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Another significant factor is lack of funding for a full-time pastor to live and work in the coastal villages.
“Natives don’t trust the white man,” says Williams. “It takes a consistent involved presence for our people to begin to trust enough to engage with a church.”
This level of engaged involvement is difficult for nearby Adventist pastors on the Olympic Peninsula, who have multiple congregations to shepherd.
The significant cultural needs and challenges have pushed the Adventist Church in the Pacific Northwest to look for creative ways to advance Native ministry in coastal villages like Queets. In late 2020, the North Pacific Union Conference Native ministry department approached Adventist Frontier Missions with a special appeal.
“We asked AFM to consider working in North America among our Northwest Native populations,” says Steve Huey, NPUC Native ministry director. “For some time, we’ve been knocking on AFM’s door asking for help in this specific area."
Like many of the unreached communities of the 10/40 Mission Window where AFM primarily serves, we have similar missiological opportunities among many Native American communities in the Pacific Northwest. After extended discussions, AFM and the Adventist Church have agreed to work collaboratively to bring the gospel to unreached tribal groups in the Native American coastal villages.
“We are dipping our toe in the water with this new partnership,” says Conrad Vine, AFM president. AFM has altered some of their policies to include placing missionary workers in North America as well as within the 10/40 Window.
“This partnership is an answer to prayer for the help we need in serving the needs of Native ministries in the Pacific Northwest,” says Huey.
Ellen White wrote about the importance of partnering for kingdom growth: “As we approach the last crisis, it is of vital moment that harmony and unity exist among the Lord’s instrumentalities” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, p. 182).
More information about this new partnership and how to get involved is available at afmonline.org/missionaries/detail/29.