Four Churches in Fresno, California, Work Together to Reach Teens With the Gospel

Sherann Kim, California Southern Baptist Convention student evangelism specialist, addresses high school students at a weekly meal provided by four Fresno churches. Photo by Holly Smith

For more than 30 years, four Fresno-area churches have worked together to serve lunch to their community’s high schoolers.

Under the auspices of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, members of New Life Community Church and Immanuel Lutheran Church as well as a Catholic parish and Presbyterian church have banded together to provide lunch one day a week for students at Washington Union High School, across the street from the Lutheran church.

Neil Marthedal, a New Life member of who died in 2015, began the ministry in 1988 in Fresno’s Easton community; his wife Nancy took over after his death, now coordinating volunteers from the four churches and enlisting speakers.

“But I’d rather be hanging out with the kids,” she said.

When the Marthedals moved to the area, Neil was asked by an FCA leader to become involved in the ministry.

“Neil told him yes, if you’ll start an FCA at Washington Union High School,” Nancy recounted. And the ministry was born.

The churches sponsored breakfasts at first, but “it was difficult with the fog, so we’ve been having lunches every week,” she said.

Some days it’s a sandwich and chips; some days, especially in the winter, a hot meal; dessert is almost always included. Leftovers are often sent home with the students since, as Marthedal said, it could be the only meal some of them have that day.

She also is involved with FCA’s summer sports camp; this year more than 70 students from Washington Union were signed up for the camp held at UCLA.

Marthedal helps raise funds to send the students to camp, which costs nearly $600 per student, and “when I go ask for donations for the sports camp I go to every single one of the churches” in town, she said.

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Source: Baptist Press