Spoke’n Hostel is an oasis of hospitality and radical generosity springing out of Christ’s love for the stranger, traveler, and community.
In 2015 we had a chance to visit Mitchell, Oregon and we’re quickly struck by the struggles and possibilities this remote Eastern Oregon community faced. Work is very hard to find, isolation mentality had eroded relationships and the town’s heart was faint from the ravages of the recession.
In stark contrast, a vibrant community of tourists and bicycle travelers were passing through Mitchell in masse on their way to the Painted Hills and cycling the 4500 mile Trans America Trail.
A vision was released in our hearts to open a hostel inside the Assembly of God to share a Christ-centered hospitality to travelers in hopes of growing the local economy. This growth would help local businesses and provide a base salary for a pastor to focus energy on mending relationships with local community members and teach about God’s unconditional love.
One year has passed since opening Spoke’n and there is no doubt that God’s vision for this radical use of His resources was spot on!
In the past year the church, closed and left empty like many of the buildings in this dying town, opened its doors anew with a fresh and different vision – provide healing and hope for the local community, promote economic growth, and provide unprecedented hospitality to travelers on a donation basis.
Since June of 2016, Spoke’n has been host to nearly 400 (predominantly bicycle) travelers, 3 retreats, and countless meetings. Businesses in the town report a 30% growth in their revenue because more travelers are staying overnight, and the town is regaining its spirit. Comments from travelers frequently refer to Spoke’n as an unexpected oasis and have responded by scores of 5-star reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Trip Advisor. To cap it all off, the Oregon Governor’s office of tourism selected Spoke’n as their 2016 recipient of the Tourism Development Award, high praise from one of the most renown tourism boards in the country.
As honored as we are for this prestigious award and the accolades of guests, the best and most humbling praise we’ve received is that of our Mitchell community. The church has grown from zero to 15 regular attendees and roughly 40 or 50 who consider us “their church” in a town of 125. The trust we’ve gained over the past 18 months is so humbling. Truly a miracle of God’s faithfulness as we diligently pursue his vision.
Spoke’n Hostel has 12 beds (6 bunks) in the bunk room (formerly the sanctuary) and 3 more beds in two semi-private rooms. Each of the sturdy, hand-made bunk beds includes linens, pillow, handmade quilts, reading lights, charging stations and privacy curtains. Mattresses are high-quality foam with a soft and firm side and are an extra large twin size, suited to the tallest traveler.
A full kitchen is available for travelers to prepare their own meals. We intentionally do not feed travelers and respectfully ask them to consider dining at local restaurants.
Spoke’n is a radical idea from the distant past, with a new face. Monasteries of old would provide hospitality to travelers on their journies and pilgrimages. In honor of this tradition, and with hopes of reviving other small towns, we hope to use Spoke’n in Mitchell as a training ground for other hospitality minded pastors in small towns who are looking for new ways to engage with community and travelers alike.