Boots on the Ground

February Newsletter, 2015  Rick McPherson

I was in the Produce department at Costco when my phone rang.  It was Chuck Coble from the Quinault Reservation.

“Hey Rick do you have any boots?” he asked.

“Chuck, I’ve got nothing for you.  The shelves are bare.  But as soon as I get some, you’re number one on my list,” I said. 

The Quinault Reservation is on the Pacific Coast, north of Aberdeen, a sleepy little fishing village in Washington State.  It’s in the Olympic Rain Forest where they measure the annual rainfall in feet, not inches.  For generations the area has relied on fishing and timber to sustain itself but the recent downturns in economy have resulted in poverty and hardship.  When you add the reality of illegal aliens and drug trafficking the outlook is bleak. 

In the middle of it all is the Church at Quinault where Gary and Carmen West have served as pastors for over 40 years.  And preceding the Wests were the Gilberts who also totaled 40 years.  John Gilbert is often seen operating the fork-lift when we unload our trucks and trailers.  Imagine over 80 years of ministry with two faithful pastors and their wives.  I had the privilege of speaking at the church not long ago and it’s impressive to see 125-150 people gather on Sunday mornings for Bible classes, singing praise and worship songs and the preaching of God’s Word. 

Now, they’re asking for boots.  Not groceries, boots.  A pair of insulated, water-proof boots are cherished on the Reservation.  And although you can’t eat them I wonder if they wouldn’t choose them everytime over the food.  Especially when they’re free!  Who gives away free boots?  We do.  In fact everything we take to the Reservation is free.  The groceries, the household supplies, linens, pillows, blankets, hats, gloves, winter jackets…it’s all free.  We never take an offering or require payment from the Native Americans.   So, if a Native is hungry, we feed him.  If he’s cold, we clothe him.  If he needs boots, we get them.

I made my calls to get the boots and prayed and waited.

Then the call came, “Hey Rick, got some boots for you, come and get ‘em.”

We loaded the truck and headed for the Rez.  When you fill up the pantry with groceries, household supplies, bottled water and the prized boots it brings great joy.   Heaven only knows how many Native Americans have been helped by the free gifts and ministry supplied through the Church at Quinault.  And because of people like you who help us do this work. 

We all know there’s no such thing as a “free lunch.”  It costs money to do ministry.  It always has.  Although we talk about “free”, money comes from somewhere to make it free.  Today, I’m asking you for your financial help. 

Will you take a moment and use the enclosed envelope to send your financial gift today?  Anything you give whether small or great will be appreciated.  You can be a part of this ministry as we continue to put boots on the ground.