Seventy-five churches and a number of organizations and businesses in the Fresno area announced Wednesday morning they will be working with the Luis Palau Association in a campaign focused on serving the city’s most “disadvantaged and marginalized.”
The association, founded by evangelist Palau, has brought together groups in hundreds of cities around the world over the past 50 years to do community service projects and spread the message of Jesus.
Jeremiah 29:7 has been a guiding verse for us: Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have taken you into exile. Pray for the city, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
In Fresno, the Luis Palau Association required at least 75 partners to help lead the charge in the city.
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The association’s executive director, evangelist Andrew Palau – Luis Palau’s son – spoke to more than 100 people gathered at Cornerstone Church Conference Center in downtown Fresno.
“The opportunities to make a difference have expanded,” he said. “We are doing so much better together with areas like homelessness, hunger, school partnerships, the environment, foster care, human trafficking, health and wellness, street gangs and violence, working with the police departments, and so much more.”
We know that we can come in and meet those needs and declare the Gospel and stand and look out for those people, and literally be there for them in their time of need, as we’re called to do.
A “CityServe” committee will be meeting into the fall to determine Fresno-area projects, which should begin around November. The association will be in Fresno into the spring of 2017, culminating the bulk of their work with a large festival.
“We use these large events as a catalyst to really build relationships … the ongoing work is the most important thing,” said Artie Padilla, a CityServe chair and executive director of Every Neighborhood Partnership in Fresno. “A one-day event is great, but then it’s just one day. So, can that be used as a spark to continue the work year-round?”
Luis Palau Association finished a similar campaign last summer in New York City, where it worked with more than 1,700 churches and met with 180,000 people at over 100 events.
Dale Oquist, lead pastor of Peoples Church in Fresno, said the association has wanted to work in Fresno for some time – even before local churches reached out after hearing of the association’s work in other cities.
“They have a heart for Fresno,” Oquist said. “For me, that’s where it all began. They want to be here.”
Fred Leonard, lead pastor of Mountain View Community Church in Fresno, is also excited.
“What an honor and a privilege for us,” Leonard said. “It’s one more arrow in our quiver for people that we love that need to know Jesus.”
Father, we want to commit ourselves to be people of action.
To fund community service projects in Fresno, campaign leaders are working to raise around $1 million. Levi Park, the Luis Palau Association’s campaign director in Fresno, said a website will be set up soon where people can donate online. Leonard said local churches have raised about 35 percent of the $1 million goal so far.
Jymme Foote, lead pastor of Breaking Free Revival Center in Fresno, ended Wednesday’s kickoff event with a prayer.
“Father, let there be commitment in this place right now. A commitment to serve you, to love you, and to love one another. We want to stand against the spirit of division that has reared its ugly head in our midst, Lord God, in all kinds of forms.”