Yesterday and today’s broadcast features an interview with Kevin Palau, president of the Luis Palau Association, and Sam Adams, the mayor of Portland from 2008 to 2012. As some of you may be aware, Sam was one of the first openly gay mayors in the United States.
Kevin and Sam’s unusual friendship began when the Palau organization went to city hall and said, “How can we help you address critical needs in the community that are going unaddressed right now?”
Sam and his administration were wary. They weren’t sure why a group of Christians would want to associate themselves with someone with whom they disagreed so vigorously on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. In the end, though, the answer was, “Yes. Despite our differences, let’s work on something we can agree on.” That decision started a process which revealed just how much they would be able to accomplish together.
It’s an inspiring story!
I hope you’ll lean into the radio and listen close to our discussion. I think it serves as an illustration of how people can work together even though there may be deep differences in how they approach life.
Over the years, Kevin and Sam have developed a genuine friendship and have built a partnership within the community that addresses unmet needs.
They launched something called CityServe. For the Palau organization, the idea was to bring the Gospel to life in word and deed in and around Portland. To Kevin, that’s an important point. Their involvement is in no way an indication that they have gone soft on important issues or drifted away from their core passion of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On a practical level, CityServe has mobilized almost 27,000 people from area churches who serve on hundreds of projects, not for a one-day service initiative, but for a long-term effort.
There are now 300 public schools in 16 different school districts around Portland that have established formal partnerships with local churches at the request of the school superintendents. CityServe has also renovated schools, contributed to the passage of sex-trafficking legislation, and instituted foster care initiatives.
What we want is for people who are far from Christ, or who maybe had a bad experience growing up as a kid, wherever they are to say, ‘I’m surprised. I didn’t realize that these Christians who I viewed a certain way, were the most loving, kind, caring people. They have their convictions. They love to talk about Jesus Christ. Maybe I’m ready for that, or not ready for that, but I can’t argue with the fact that they’re showing up in the deepest, darkest places of pain and hurt in our city, and they want to make a difference.’
That comment gets straight to the heart of the matter. I believe the core of the model set forth by Kevin and Sam could be duplicated across the country and be more of a witness than our words alone can offer. Both words and action are important. We need to talk of God’s love, but we also need to do things that demonstrate it.
I hope you’ll take a few moments to join us for our broadcast, “Showing Christ’s Love to Your City,” on your local radio station. Don’t forget you can tune in anytime online or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.
After you’ve heard the program, I’d be interested to hear what you think.