By Barney Field / Guest columnist / El Paso Times
Detroit clergy are curious about why El Paso is the safest large city while their city continues to be the most dangerous. They have graciously invited me to speak on “The El Paso Miracle” at a conference on April 7.
El Paso was not a safe city back in 1992 when our Lord began El Paso for Jesus. It seemed that every day the newspaper headlines revealed more crime. Quite frankly, like Detroit, El Paso appeared rather hopeless. But we stood on the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:26, “… with God all things are possible.”
El Paso is safe for many reasons. Looking back, one spiritual approach Jesus has used in our city can be summarized by 3 P’s: United People, Prayer and Projects.
There were enough followers of Jesus to transform our city but we were woefully divided. An important step toward uniting people was uniting pastors. This began with monthly Pastors for Jesus luncheons that have now continued for over 20 years. Participating pastors have become steadfast partners in sharing the love of Jesus in El Paso. If you want a booklet about this, contact Pastor Wally Chapman at 565-3111.
Prayer works! Intercessors for Jesus began gathering believers from churches citywide for united prayer for El Paso. They faithfully met monthly for a couple hours.
Everything that has been accomplished in our beloved city can be traced back to those persistent prayers. After about 17 years, the prayer focus was changed to 24/7 prayer then to 12/7 prayer. Participants each pray for one hour a week. If you want to participate, you can get a free, comprehensive prayer guide by calling 58JESUS (585-3787).
United projects have been both numerous and effective. The most recent was the Saturday before Thanksgiving where Jesus blessed about 10,000 people with free groceries, clothes, shoes, medical care, haircuts, family portraits, community services and prayer. Called El Paso Convoy of Hope, about 1,200 volunteers from over 100 churches served together.
The next united project will be the free Franklin Graham Festival at the Don Haskins Center at 7 p.m. April 5 and 6. More than 2,000 volunteers from about 150 churches will help. Information is available at 219-7991. The idea for the united project that has had the greatest impact on El Paso came directly from our Lord. We earnestly prayed, “Jesus, how can more El Pasoans get prepared for Your return?” He clearly answered, “Bible!”
That led to a partnership among pastors, the American Bible Society and the El Paso Times. All El Pasoans were challenged to invest 5 minutes a day to read the entire New Testament in 1997. About 250,000 reading guides were distributed through 58 churches, including 13 Catholic churches. The El Paso Times even printed the daily readings.
This prompted more than 70,000 people to call to get a free, easy-to-understand, Catholic-approved New Testament. In addition, that year evangelist Luis Palau conducted successful crusades in both El Paso and Juarez. And guess what? El Paso’s crime began to decrease.
Following the success of Year of the Bible, El Paso began, with the newspaper’s assistance, to focus on one vital area each year. For example, there were Year of the Marriage, Year of the Family, Year of the Neighbor and Year of the Father. In addition, the Bible continued to inspire El Pasoans through the newspaper.
Detroit, with God’s help, there is hope! Using united people, prayer and projects, your city can also go from worst to first.
Let’s have faith that someday you’ll proudly be telling the world about “The Detroit Miracle.”
Barney Field is the founder and executive director of El Paso for Jesus.