Rural Oasis provides rest—and hope—for the weary

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Church planting & multiplication


Southeastern Wyoming has absolutely gorgeous summers, according to Jared Schinzel. But wind, cold and severe storms the rest of the year forge hardy, independent people guided by deep-rooted values. 


“Wyoming people, at least in our corner, are unapologetically them,” Schinzel explained. “They do things they do because they want to do them, because that’s the true them.” 


Schinzel grew up about 10 miles from Burns, population 350, where he now lives with his wife, Laurie, and their three children. They moved there in 2017 and started raising more cows with fewer neighbors. 


The neighbors they have, though, are people they’ve come to love. The Schinzels planted Oasis Wyoming because many of these good, resilient men and women need something — they just don’t know what. 


“Hell’s full of good people, too,” Schinzel said. “We have to do something to change this game. I’m thrilled to step into this work.” 


A place of rest so people can rise and reach out


Oasis launched its Sunday services on March 17. Their ministries emphasize worship and fellowship on Sundays, along with small groups. They’re also planning outreach events in the coming months to make a difference in Burns. 


A church that influences the small town motivated Isaac Carroll to join Oasis’ launch team. He and Schinzel have cut hay together in recent years. Now they’re working together to make Jesus known. 


“There are lots of people in the Burns community who could use a church like Oasis,” he said.  


Carroll said that Oasis’ launch team has several strong community members who are pretty involved in the community. The team plans to participate in Burns Day in June when there’s a parade, and they’re serving teachers and schools. 


“We care for our community,” Schinzel said. “That’s our focus: help people to rest in Jesus, rise up and start reaching out.” 


Related: Church says no act of love is too small, including coffee for teachers. 


Who lives in Burns?

The town in southeastern Wyoming is a few miles from Cheyenne. But it’s just about as close to Nebraska and Colorado.  


Farmers and ranchers who naturally live with a busy rhythm created the cultural roots of today’s Burns. The city is primarily blue-collar, although there’s a growing presence of white-collar workers. 


Today, the children and grandchildren of the town’s original inhabitants often work in Cheyenne, maybe for the state or on military bases. Even if more and more have city jobs, everyone owns at least a few cows and chickens. 


There’s lots of young families, Schinzel said. He noted that only 20% of the area is over 65 years old. Schinzel said his neighbors, regardless of age or stage, tend to be financially stable and have comfortable, relatively good lives. But that doesn’t mean all is well. 


Related: Another Wyoming church designed its building on what their town wanted. 



What’s needed and what can be done


Schinzel and other Converge Rocky Mountain church leaders recently visited every Wyoming county. They wanted to get a sense of the state’s spiritual condition and see how God might want to use them.  


Two particular observations guided the Schinzels into starting Oasis Wyoming. First, many people in the Cowboy State feel they’re missing something in their lives — but they aren’t sure what. Second, most businesses and people are leaving small towns for the state’s larger cities. 


“There’s a huge need for people in these small towns,” Schinzel said. “They’re not being targeted.” 


Related: Hear a Converge leader explain why rural America is the next mission field. 


Schinzel said most of the good people around him don’t know Jesus. They’re usually not atheists, nor do they have church hurt or consciously reject Christ’s message. They’ve just never been introduced to the gospel. 


A small-town church can meet large needs through the gospel 

As natives of the region, the leaders of the new Converge church have the cultural know-how to start with personal relationships. That’s how these independent, authentic men and women will listen to someone share how the gospel changed their life. 


Because Oasis is in a small town near Cheyenne, it can be a place of rest and saving grace. The church is named after the life-giving spot in real-world deserts that provides shade and water to exhausted, endangered travelers.  


That’s why Schinzel sees the potential of the small-town church near a big city. The oasis of God’s family can surprise people traveling from Burns for work, shopping or even those moving. As people come and go, Christ’s peace and rest remain through his church. 


The nature of Wyoming life means cold, wind and severe storms are coming. The Oasis launch team knows a world broken by sin poses an even greater challenge. But the Lord is working so these hardy men and women discover God’s family is exactly what they need. 


“A lot of people are hurt, worried or scared about how the world is going, and they need a place to rest,” Schinzel said. “We want to be the church, and we really want to be a place where people know they can come to us when they need us.” 


Converge's 10 districts have committed to deploying 312 church planters before 2026. Read more inspiring church planting stories and learn about the goal to send out 312 church planters in five years. 

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Additional articles by Ben Greene