Overlooking Keystone is a large cedar and stone building that might seem overly ostentatious. Inside is just as big and bold as the outside.
The first floor has a dining room, library and training space. There are wildlife displays inside that once belonged to the Call of the Wild museum and is the culmination of one big game hunter’s longtime collection.
The original intent of the building was to have it be a lodge for tourists. A caretaker’s quarters are even next door to the large building so someone could be there at all times.
It was donated to the Greene family nearly 10 years ago. The facility is a disciple making institution where hundreds of people are instructed every year. The program is called the Keystone Project.
It’s not just a building. The Keystone Project recently held two open houses so people know where their hearts are with Christ.
President of the Keystone Project, Richard Greene, said it’s basically a missionary training ministry. It’s really quite global right now with the movement being in Central America, Africa, Asia, U.S. cities, even right here in the Black Hills.
The program is all about doing ministry along with meeting people’s needs. Greene said there is a whole range of opportunities that allows people to go and share about Christ. The overall goal is to identify, train and release a new generation of leaders who are equipped to lead the church and world for the next 50 to 100 years.
Very generous donors gave the building and a motel to the Keystone Project.
Greene first learned about the devoted Christian couple in 2004 when his missions board asked him to come up with a training program.
“They saw a great need for Bible training. Even for pastors and leaders,” Greene said.
Greene put a training program together and the first training session was done in January of 2005.
“The first training was very challenging but it was successful,” Greene said.
Between 2005 and 2009 they did one to two trainings a year.
In 2009 the training program grew into its own entity and it became the Keystone Project.
At first, Greene didn’t want the building and thought about selling it. After a couple of attempts at selling it he realized that God had given them the building and wanted him to use it. Probably the most interesting thing about the organization is that everything they provide is free. The only thing that they charge for is a printed version of the training manual.
“I’m not a money guy. I’m just a simple guy who loves the Lord,” Greene said.
Another fascinating aspect of the program is that there is no promotion of it anywhere. The people find out about the program through referrals.
Project Keystone has an internship program in the summer for students aged 18-25.
“They come here. We house them. They work at the hotel. They get discipled. While they are here they are discipling,” Greene said.
The training comes from Greene’s time as a missionary — meeting people where they were at.
People he knew used to tell him that they needed a building to teach the gospel. But Jesus went from village to village teaching in the Bible. A lot of it is about being socially aware and then sharing the gospel. His training has been formed through trial and error.
The Keystone Project recently had people from 50 different countries apply to the program. There were over 1,600 applicants for the October training. Out of the applicants, 81 people were selected. The leaders coming in October for the training will be in Keystone for a month. They come from 17 different countries.
There are three one month trainings a year for international leaders. Then there are two week programs which happen twice a year. One of those is dedicated to Native Americans or those who work with Native Americans. They also have two one week trainings for pastors or churches who want to refocus their church. One of the one-week trainings is a discipleship training for the interns that come for the summer.
Greene said the best thing about the program is the effect it has on the church leaders to go back and minister to people that are very, very poor.
“Instead of building big churches they are going out to villages and slums. Churches are not typically working,” Greene said.
The leaders are going outside of the church and doing it for the Kingdom of God.
Most of the people selected speak English but there is an opportunity for Spanish speakers to come. There is a translator on the staff in Keystone. There are 30 people on staff in Keystone. The training program is also in the cities of Houston and Los Angeles. There are 50 people on staff altogether.
The largest funding mechanism for the Keystone Project is the Rushmore Express Inn & Family Suites. But this doesn’t cover all of their needs.
Volunteers are needed in different areas. They can do things such as housekeeping, laundry, driving to trips on the weekends as well as preparing and sharing food.
In addition to their own training program, Project Keystone helps churches establish missionary teams. They place people in cities and there are those who live next to refugees.
In the future Project Keystone will make recordings of the training as a package deal. They also want to increase missionaries in U.S. cities and increase those working with refugees. Another step forward for them would be to increase what they are doing for Native Americans.