Terry A. Fred, U.S. missionary with Church Mobilization and pastor of Destiny Center, perseveres reaching the needy in Reno, Nevada. His wife, Sherrie, a local real estate agent, ministers alongside him.
“The Lord has captured our hearts over the overwhelming needs in the inner city,” Fred, 64, says.
Reno’s inner city simmers in a pool of widespread gambling, substance abuse, prostitution and human trafficking, suicides, homelessness, and a 13.5% poverty rate. The “Biggest Little City in the World” ranks among the top 20 “post-Christian” U.S. cities, according to Barna Group.
The annual Zombie bar crawl in Reno waves another flag as a world-class hedonistic event. Scheduled near Halloween, up to 10,000 revelers flood 40 downtown bars and resort casinos for the evening event. Many end up crawling on their hands and knees navigating the crowded streets.
Sensing God’s call to plant a church in Nevada, Fred moved to Reno in 1996, after serving as Chi Alpha Campus Ministries pastor at Texas Tech University. AG U.S. Missions, the AG West Texas District, and the Northern California & Nevada District Resource Center backed him wholeheartedly.
Fred initially planted a church in 1997 that met in various rental properties. During his personal prayer time several years later, he received what he calls a vision to expand the ministry by partnering with other congregations and parachurch organizations.
In 2002, the church opened the Weeping Window prayer outreach in a rented storefront. Congregants and Fred sat inside by the front window petitioning God every day for a solid year. They witnessed street scenes like those on a TV crime show: drivers picking up prostitutes, illegal drug sales, fights, and police cars racing by with red lights flashing and sirens blaring.
Out of this spiritual chaos, Fred says he felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to establish Destiny Center.
The center’s ministry model currently includes Destiny Church and cooperating programs: the Nevada House of Prayer (formally the Weeping Window); Youth With a Mission Reno; Awaken Reno, a human trafficking ministry; and Pathfinders Children’s Ministry.
Fred also partners with the Vertical Church, an AG congregation in Reno, in various outreaches and maintains informal ties with additional local ministries.
“We are a landing zone for sending troops into spiritual warfare in our city,” Fred says. That effort involved helping his prodigal son Daniel Fred find his way back to the Lord.
The Center purchased a 37,000-square-foot building in 2019 and is slowly renovating it to include a large sanctuary for up to 500 worshippers next summer. It sits two blocks away from a rundown corridor of seedy motels, bars, and strip joints.
Typical residents at local motels include single-parent families, day laborers, and rotating homeless men and women.
Most children endure an itinerant lifestyle. They alternate between motels, shelters, and foster homes. Sometimes they camp on the streets with single parents or live in cars.
Brandon Harnes, Destiny Church youth pastor, knows the pain and hardship of homelessness. As a youngster, he barely survived motel life with his mother and brother cooking food on a hot plate.
“I also ate a lot of baloney sandwiches and potato chips,” he recalls.
Because of neglect, local authorities placed Harnes and his brother in foster care. At 15, he worked a full-time job and began attending church. Marrying early, he learned about trusting God for family needs.
Soon after, Harnes and his wife accepted another couple’s invitation to a Destiny Church service in an apartment house workout room.
“We experienced acceptance and love and have never looked back,” Harnes says.
Several months later, Harnes surrendered his life to Christ while driving his pickup along a busy highway. Weeping, he steered to the right shoulder as he says the Holy Spirit inundated the front cabin with waves of joy.
Harnes, 47, owns a thriving masonry contracting business, and guides Destiny’s youth ministry, including outreaches to the homeless and families living in the nearby motels.
“God allowed me to walk a tough road to see clearly as an adult, how I can help lost people find him,” Harnes says.