Well, Vegas is a couple of places. The place everyone knows is the tourist trap. If you've lived in Vegas more than a few months you probably would only go there with visitors or if you worked there. "The Strip," "Las Vegas Boulevard," "Sin City," is a mirage full of of lights and glitter that disapears pretty quick when your pockets are empty.
Las Vegas means "The Meadows," and was founded by native Americans who watered themselves at the natural springs that made it an oasis in the desert. The spanish came here, the Mormons tried to colonize it, and the gangsters turned it in to a gambling mecca. Now corporations run it, build on it, and rake in the profits from it. The springs are gone now.
Vegas looks awesome! In a single mile drive you can see the pyrimids of Egypt, the Eiffle Tower, the circus, Rome and the skyscrapers of New York. Plans are being made to include the Golden Gate Bridge, and even the Titanic along this glory road. And you can even take that drive, from one end of the strip to the other, in a super monorail train. It's like an amusement park for grown ups and its fun to look at.
Now they are building towering condos more than 100 stories high along Las Vegas Boulevard too. It's all about money, to get you into Vegas, and keep you in Vegas till Vegas has your money. The old joke: "I only go to Las Vegas to visit my money" is very true. Believe me the odds are against you going home rich.
The Las Vegas area is the one of the fastest growing places in the United States. For the last 10 years more than 5,000 people a month have moved here. Our population now stands at about 2 million. There are jobs here, but you cant afford to live on the pay, so most people have two jobs or depend on the income of a partner.
The other side of Vegas is where everyone lives. No glammer or glitz in the neighborhoods. We have our rich side of town, Summerlin and the planned communities. And we have our poor people. North Las Vegas, D street. The majority of us live in the middle, day by day. Besides casino jobs, Vegas offers one the richest telemarketing industries in the the US. Call centers abound here. I work in one, for a pharmaceutical company.
God called my family to Las Vegas. We were fat and happy living just outside of Washington DC, in Maryland. God caused it all to crumble until we had to listen to his call. No, God! Anywhere but Sin City! But we surrendered and moved. Funny, when we got here we found lots of others who had heeded the same call. One of the strange facts we were told when we arrived was that there are more churches per person in Las Vegas than anywhere else in the country. Hmmm.
We found some great churches here, and some not so great, and we found out why there are so many churches. The need is great. Lots of sin equals lots of misery. We have a large homeless population, which the current mayor has dedicated himself to eradicating, which means pushing them outside the city limits so the tourists won't see them. We also have lots of ministries feeding and helping them. Most of these ministries are covert, because if you announce your feeding times the city or county will come and shut it down. I know people who cook meals on their stoves and walk out to the street corners with pots of food.
Vegas off the strip is much like other cities, except the sin here is not kept behind closed doors. It is shouted from the roof tops, billboarded, and made to look like fun. This is "Sin City."
However, God has promised those of us called here that he is going to do a great work in Las Vegas. The Faithful have taken to calling Las Vegas "Righteous City," and we belieive that through prayer, witiness, and community action, we are going to see God move and change the very nature of our city.
Our church, The International Church of Las Vegas, is planning 5 locations ringing the city. Our main campus houses a complex of buildings including one of the largest sanctuaries in this area, seating as many as 3,500. We built a "Dream Center" on D street that feeds and ministers to the poor everyday. "Prayer Mountain" will be built this year to overlook the West side of the city. We are finishing a job and counseling center on the south side of town, as well. We also are ministering on the Indian reservation to the far north. You can find out more about ICLV by visiting www.iclv.com .
So, this is Las Vegas, as we see it. Glamour, glitz, sin, and righteousness rising, in the Nevada desert.
Pray for it, and soon you will see a city changed in a day.
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