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CEO and Founder, Jeff Pishney, explains that it all began during the economic downtown in 2007. "We were on the nation's worst city lists." Morale in Modesto was low as forclosures were having a devasting impact.
He was challenged by the thought, "If our church were to suddenly disappear would anybody in the community notice?"
In an attempt to get Chrsitians out of the four walls of the church, Jeff organised a volunteer day to work on eight practical projects in Modesto. To his amazement, more than 1200 people showed up.
Today Love Our Cities has evolved from a one off event to ongoing volunteer programs that partner with local schools, foster care organisations and neighbourhood groups to name a few.
“We’re the church doing this with the community not for the community," says Jeff and it is this approach that has drawn the wider community to particpate.
Jeff admits that he sometimes receives criticism from sections of the church for involving non-christians. However, he sees it as a relationship building opportunity. “Good works open the door to Good News.” He offers training to Christians, teaching them how to interact with non-Christians, focussing on asking questions and when asked, sharing about faith in Jesus.
Love Modesto has been a catayst for greater unity amongst the church. Christians from pentecostal to liturgical traditions are involved and as Jeff points out, “There’s something about bettering your community that builds bridges.”
The key to the flourishing of this ministry has been strong relationships with the business community and civic leaders who have strongly supported these volunteer initiatives.
Jeff is quick to acknowledge the grace and leading of the Holy Spirit, that the growth of Love Our Cities has not been the result of human planning but rather God opening doors.