If you head to Death Valley National Park, you might pass through the unincorporated community of Amargosa Valley–like the other one million tourists every year–and not even realize it!
Amargosa Valley rests in the mountains of southern Nevada where the remnants of the distant past–borax mining and Scotty’s Castle–lie just around the corner.
And if you stay late enough, you can witness some of the most spectacular sunsets in the country.
Despite the rugged beauty of this desert land, spiritual and societal problems of many folks hide from view. This includes some people’s distrust of religion.
An Unexpected Romance
Then, in July of 2017, the arrival of a new resident got the whole community talking. Amargosa Christian Fellowship had a new, young, single pastor.
James Attebury became the first full-time Village Missionary to serve in Amargosa Valley.
His District Representatives, Richard & Ellen Hayes say, “James was single, focused, and driven to reach the entire community within his first week on the field!”
Although inspired by his determination, Richard reminded James that ministry is a marathon, not a sprint!
However, Ellen gave James a truly life-changing suggestion. She knew of a young lady who might be a perfect match for him. Katie Imus, daughter of Village Missionaries Mike & Suzanne Imus, lived a few hours away in Sandy Valley, NV.
Not long after settling into his new home, James met Katie and her family for the first time. They soon entered into a courtship, followed by their engagement in February of 2018!
And as James & Katie say, “We got married on September 15, 2018 and the rest is history.”
Now they serve together as a missionary team. Their DRs–Richard & Ellen–are excited to continue equipping them as they preach the Word and love the people in Amargosa Valley.
A Troubled Town
When James first arrived in Amargosa Valley, he quickly experienced people’s hesitation, and at times, hostility, towards the gospel.
One resident told James only when pigs fly would he darken the door of the church. Another man, in response to James saying he would be praying for him, said that was one of the stupidest things he had ever heard.
“This town desperately needs the gospel of Christ,” says James. “Many people act indifferent to the gospel and want little to do with organized religion. They have experienced hurt by the church in the past and have no intention of going back.”
In addition to their skepticism to Christianity, some residents find themselves entangled in a web of other struggles.
Prostitution. Drugs. Gambling. Cults. And other equally harmful and self-destructive behaviors.
Yet, the Atteburys and their church–Amargosa Christian Fellowship–strive to love the hurting people in this desert valley. They want to demonstrate the hope of Christ at every opportunity.
Continued Growth to Succeed in Ministry
Despite the unique challenges that accompany ministry in Amargosa Valley–especially as young, newly wedded missionaries!–Richard & Ellen Hayes look to the future with great confidence.
“With the expansion of the District Representatives roles, we hope to spend more time with missionaries like James & Katie,” say Richard & Ellen. “In the months ahead, we will continue to coach them as they minister together as a couple.”
Cliff Powell, an Elder at Amargosa Christian Fellowship, already sees the benefits that the DR Expansion will bring to their congregation.
“Although we have access to Richard & Ellen via email or phone call, there is something about the ‘personal touch’ that goes a long way. With smaller districts, they would be able to spend that personal time with our church and we could work closer with them.”
Lastly, James & Katie anticipate the additional fellowship and time they will have with Richard & Ellen. It will help them succeed in ministry.
“This wonderful couple holds a wealth of wisdom about rural ministry,” remark James & Katie. “The DR Expansion will allow us to continue to learn from their years of experience as a missionary couple.”
Willing to Go
“In Amargosa Valley, I’ve encountered almost every false religion and cult in existence,” states James. “I have learned that the cults go where the established church does not. If they are willing to go in hard places, then we must be as well.”
At Village Missions, following the Lord’s leading, we seek out the hard places that many overlook. Rural ministry carries unique challenges. But if our churches were left to close, and our missionaries were not there, thousands of souls may not ever hear the true gospel.
Our missionaries–like James & Katie–face battles every single day.
The expansion of the DR ministry will enable our missionaries and churches to continue growing in wisdom and strength so that they can keep fighting the spiritual battles that rage around them.
And when our missionaries and their churches are stronger, the gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to be proclaimed in rural North America!