News

by Paul Marr  
 
   God has caused an amazing partnership between the small, impoverished community of Raisin City and its little church to grow into a big blessing as the community leaders and school principal (1 elementary school, about 250 kids 1st – 8th) asked the church to run their end of year carnival, the first one in recent memory!
 

    This partnership is plainly the work of The Spirit, which began and continues by a committed focus on prayer and communion with the Father through His magnificent gift and provision of Jesus’ sacrifice and blood at the Cross. We have listened first for HIS agenda before our own.

  Herme and his wife from Iglesia Fuerza de Calvario The local church, Fuerza de Calvario was led to step out of their very modest mobile-home church (no heat, two window AC units) to care for their town park. Their visible service and public worship caught the eye of community families and leaders, and the school principal, who subsequently invited them to run an annual school carnival for the community! Three churches blessed 120+ children and many parents with games, food and new relationships on Friday evening May 26th on the grounds of the Elementary school.

   The unified body of Christ was clearly on display across language, economic and cultural barriers as Fuerza Calvario ran the games, provided by Riverpark Bible Church, while seven of us from FPC grilled and served hotdogs and drinks.  

   Fernando Napoles, the local Hispanic missionary really made the day of five fortunate children who won drawings for donated bicycles: all smiles!

   The school principal (pictured below in white shirt) and some board members, after seeing the efforts and partnership at the carnival have thrown open wide the doors to the community, with very public thanks and invitation to undertake further activities at the school on behalf of the community. And planning is now underway in a joint effort between school, community and church to run a week long camp at the school! This means a great deal to the community, and is a real opportunity for development and sharing the Gospel.

 

   If The Lord is tugging on your heart to draw near to Him and to His work amongst the impoverished in our own valley in Raisin City (and others to follow), contact me (Paul Marr). I’m excited to tell you great stories of God’s goodness and grace and work!
 
 
 
 

 

Anonymous

Dear First Pres,

  I've been continuing to stir about Psalm 63 this week. That was text for Sunday's sermon. If you missed the sermon, I encourage you to listen to it on our website. There were some particular points from the text that I thought were important for us to hear. And, if you can't remember what Psalm 63 says, I encourage you to read it again today.

   David starts with these words, "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you." What we learn from the Psalm is that a heart of worship is one that is earnestly, passionately, and intensely seeking after God ... not just God's benefits, but God Himself. Having that kind of heart in our congregation starts with putting our faith in Christ and grows by living daily submitted in a relationship with Him. It was David's relational experience with God that gave him such a deep desire for God. So, how are you doing in your daily submitted relationship with Christ? Our relationship with Him is so important because it is in the context of that relationship that we come to know (really know) what David says in verse 3, that God's love is better than life. Remember, when the Scripture calls us to earnestly seek the Lord, that it is only in response to the way that God has earnestly, passionately, and intensely moved toward us in Christ. What good news! What could be better than the covenant faithfulness of God? We experience that covenant faithfulness, His love, in a daily submitted relationship with Him.
 
   As I was praying this morning, I kept coming back to this prayer for you and me ... for First Presbyterian Church Fresno: may the Lord give us hearts that earnestly, passionately, and intensely seek after Him. But, may those hearts come (the only way they really can come) because of a growing experience and knowledge of God's incredible grace.
 
What have you been seeking today?

Blessings,

Jeremy

Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor

by: Ivan Paz

     When we think of Christian urban leaders, the first image that comes to mind for most of us is the image of a well-trained, program director or CEO of a faith based non-profit who is leading groups of people towards changing their inner-city neighborhood. But that is not the case in most of our neighborhoods in Fresno.

    For the past decade or so, Beth and I have been deeply invested in the relational fabric of downtown Fresno, engaging development work with ministry and civic leaders, contributing to projects that aim at creating change and hope. But the more intentional that Beth and I made ourselves with our neighbors, the more we began to discover a different image of a Christian urban leader: one that looked more like a Spanish speaking mother between 20 and 50 years of age, whose husband works in the fields or construction, who helps navigate traffic before and after school hours, who pushes a stroller to council meetings to advocate for her neighborhood, and who never misses a Sunday Mass service. This is the real image of a Christian urban leader in our downtown neighborhoods. Unfortunately, not many see this, and it’s okay because these women are not seeking praise or glory. They are only doing what they believe is the right thing to do.

​Jefferson Neighborhood Leaders: Alejandra, Raquel, Adriana, Andrea

   Beth and I have offered our property as a meeting place for our neighbors. There they meet regularly to brainstorm ways they can change the neighborhood. Having finished a few projects—getting their council member to fix a couple of alleys and compelling a slumlord to rehab a house that was being squatted in—Raquel, one of the group’s leaders, decided it was time to honor the women on Mother’s Day with a fiesta where all the families can come and celebrate the hard working women in the neighborhood. As they began to plan, an Acts 6 (Conflict over neglected widows) moment occurred: the group was divided over the dates—the Mexican mother’s day and the U.S. version of mother’s day—not to mention that some women did not have their husbands either because of deportations, marital conflict, and other circumstances. On top of that, having the money was a challenge. But we were reminded that we should not plan around money but around God because God is bigger than money and God validates the mothers in our area. The result: the women organized two celebrations—one on the Mexican day for women only and one on the U.S. day for families.

     The celebrations were amazing. There was lots of food, mariachis, dancing, but most of all … the celebration, smiles, and laughter reminded us that we owe a lot to the mothers (biological or covenantal)—esp. those doing all of the work behind the scenes in our neighborhoods and our churches. They do so much without a demand to be seen. But God sees them, and we walk with God, we can begin to see them as well.

 

Anonymous
   

 Maybe you saw the pictures on Facebook from the Dress-A-Girl sewing day? Here's the rest of the story from Pam Sells and Shelley Haught. 
 
Pam Sells
 
   Many years ago women would gather together to quilt, knit, bake, or engage in other household duties in small community groups. The beauty of these times was not only accomplishing an important task but also to experience of sweet fellowship which occurred around the table or parlor.
     

On May 6 a group of 15-20 women experienced the same sweet fellowship as they sewed, ironed, or cut patterns for the "Dress-a-Girl" organization. Dress a Girl Around the World is a Campaign under Hope 4 Women International bringing dignity to women around the world. Organized in 2006, the dream is to bring at least one new dress to each girl in poverty areas around the world, helping them to see that they are worthy, respected and loved by God.  
 
     During this Saturday morning, First Pres women joined with several women from other churches to work together on creating dresses.  Talking (of course!), getting to know new women, working together and sharing stories about how we learned to sew, were highlights of the morning.  We had such fun creating dresses that were colorful and decorated with trim, buttons, and ruffles, knowing that little girls from 3 months to 12 years would be excited to receive these "works of love". 
 
   Laboring together in the same place at the same time on the same project has lots of rewards, the least of which was the sweet fellowship with other women!  What a wonderful blessing the day turned out to be!!
 
Shelley Haught
 
     The Dress-a-Girl morning at FPC went so smoothly with the support of the team of volunteers from Dress a Girl that came alongside to help us get dresses to little girls that our short term mission teams will be visiting this summer. There was a wonderful buzz in the room as we cut, kitted, ironed, sewed, bagged completed dresses together & prayed for the girls.

Mexico
This is the second year FPC men worked in Mexico through Amor Ministries to build a house. Each of the nine men on the team took will take three dresses to give to the church for their girls. What a blessing to bring 27 dresses of various sizes for the girls!
 
Albania
   We have a 20+ year relationship with a churches in the southern part of Albania where communism has diminished & faith in Christ grows. 

We support several missionaries in Ablania, one of whom is FPC member Linda Osborne who spends most of her year serving in the Bible School and alongside the church of Erseka. FPC's short term mission team will take 40 dresses, thanks to Dress-a-Girl. We will be sending along t-shirts to go with the dresses. The dresses will be going to Korce where our mission partners have a safe house for girls at risk for trafficking and other abuse. FPC sewers made larger dresses for these girls. 
Anonymous

by Rico Guerrero

   This year’s Mexico Build was once again a mission that not only provided a much needed home for a family but gave me time to focus on my relationship with God. This was my second experience and it was as great as the first. I and 8 other men from First Presbyterian departed early Thursday morning with a variety of emotions. Even with my past experience I could not prepare for what to expect. We knew that the conditions and the build site is always an unknown until we drive up to the location. All we could count on is that God would provide and give us strength for whatever challenges we would face.

   Fortunately, we were given a site that was perfect. As we all exited the vehicles we were met by mother Carmen and her son Angelo who were part of the family that we would serve. After the first of many group prayers we began the toughest day of the three-day build. This is the most critical day that determines how the rest of the build will go, it is the laying of the foundation. We mixed many buckets of cement in large trays and poured them one by one. All of our tools were powered by our bodies, which took a toll on all of us. The other challenge was the Tijuana heat that beat down on us throughout the day. At one point, we were faced with the fact that we may not be able to get the foundation poured by the end of the day, which would set us back on the build. We all stopped after noon and gathered our weary bodies. Ben Wiele, our awesome trip leader, pulled us all together and we prayed. We all had our needs and asked God to provide. I felt His hand over me and regained my positive, confident attitude that we were going to get it done. The team spirit was lifted up and we finished pouring the last tray during day one. This set the tone for the rest of the build.  

   During this time, the men and I shared many experiences about our lives with one another, especially about our faith in God. We also shared many laughs and prayers for each other. This bond that was created after the first day brought us closer together and made day two and three much easier to handle. Finally, after the end of day three we were able to hand over the keys to the Estrada Guzman family. At one point myself and Craig Hartsell were on the roof when Jorge, the husband, joined us in completing the finishing touches on his new home. He was a proud man that worked very hard for his family. He was thankful and curious of why we would come to help them. We let him know that it is because our love for God that we came to help his family. The build is not only about providing the family home but also to be a disciple of Christ to their family.

   The mission trip is a transformative experience in many ways. I now have a connection with each of the men that is everlasting. I believe that is one of the best parts of the Mexico build. Each one of us sacrifice our time at work, time with family, and/or comforts of home. But the reward is great. For me, it allows me to grow my faith deeper and wider with God and focus on Him. We all can say without a doubt that it is a rewarding experience.

    To see for yourself, enjoy this video of our trip created by Chris Popadich. 

Editors Note: We invite you to ask Chris Popadich, Craig Hartsell, Bill Gotthardt, Matt Shaver, Jim Grunwald, Mike Murphy, Doug Smith, or Ben Wiele about their expereince of this trip. 

Anonymous

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