BANNER: So how did you end up in Sin City?
IRENE: More than a year-and-a-half ago my husband told me his company was sending him to Las Vegas for three or four years. We were living in the Seattle area, had lifelong friends there, loved our church, and I especially loved being part of the Coffee Break ministry. I’d promised my husband years ago that I would follow him anywhere. But in spite of that, I would wake up during the night in a panic before our move. I wondered why God hadn’t listened to me when I told him the only place that would take me from the Northwest was the state of Virginia, where my beloved grandchildren and their parents lived. Didn’t God know I couldn’t handle temperatures over 75 degrees? My list went on and on!
BANNER: What were your first impressions of the place?
IRENE: Driving into the city, the first things I saw were huge billboards of scantily clad women advertising “gentlemen’s clubs” and nudity. Even the taxicabs displayed “revealing” ads. I was also thrown a bit by the slot machines in the grocery store. During my time here I learned that Las Vegas has one of the poorest school systems in the country, a very high suicide rate, and a high crime rate. Our mayor recently told a fourth-grade class on Literacy Day that one of his hobbies was drinking—and that if he were stuck on a remote island by himself, the one thing he’d want with him would be a bottle of gin.
BANNER: So what kept you going spiritually?
IRENE: I’ve been blessed by being part of a Home Missions church plant—Desert Streams Christian Church. I was privileged to help start a morning Coffee Break group here. Las Vegas is a city filled with hurting and lonely people. I have been so blessed to see women turn to Christ, to hear one say, “I always knew there was something missing in my life. I find this study of the Bible so overwhelming, that God loves me so much!” I hear children telling their fathers, “You need to believe in Jesus.”
BANNER: What’s next for you?
IRENE: My year-and-a-half here isn’t going to turn into three or four years. God has decided to send me to the East Coast after all! Not to Virginia but Maryland, about 80 miles north of my grandchildren. I have mixed feelings about moving again—I long to watch my grandchildren grow up, to be part of their lives, but I will miss the women and the church I have grown to love here in Las Vegas.
BANNER: Any final words for CRC members who live in “tamer” locations?
IRENE: Please pray for the CRC’s church planters, especially those here in Las Vegas. They are living in a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, but they are a light shining in the darkness and are making many personal sacrifices to bring God’s Word to a hurting city. I now have a much greater appreciation for those who work so hard as church planters and as missionaries, because for a little while I was part of them.