Updated: Mar 22
When I first moved to Fresno, I met with a Fresno legend to have lunch together. This meeting was orchestrated by my partnership supervisor so I could have a chance to hear from someone who loved Fresno and could give me an accurate depiction of the city. As we sat together, he talked about how people in Fresno had a negative view of the city and that happened over time. He had been working with others in the city to change the narrative. I listened to what he was saying, but it wasn’t until our server came over that I was able to understand it.
The server approaches the table and my new friend introduces us to one another and explains that I had moved from Pennsylvania to Fresno to do ministry. The server looked at me and said, “Why Fresno?” In my mind, I was like “whoa, we just talked about this!” Then after a moment the question was rephrased. “I am sorry. What brings you to Fresno?”
At that moment, I realized that I was going to be learning the deep pain of this city while also learning to celebrate with this city. Over time, I realized that Fresno was the butt of many jokes and people would often ask, “Why Fresno?” Then I began to hear stories of Tony Award-winner, Audra McDonald, who came from Fresno. The Las Vegas Raiders Quarterback, Derek Carr, came from Fresno. And Christian Community Developer Association founder and legend, John Perkins, loves Fresno and visits often.
This caused me to care deeply about knowing more about the history of Fresno—its pain, sorrows, and joys—while also being excited about being a part of its future.
I tell this story because it reminds me of our story, here at the CCO. Over the last 50 years, there are great things to celebrate and there great tensions that we have to hold. Like Fresno for me, there are many reasons for us to leave, but we also know deep down in us, there are many reasons to keep going.
So friends, I invite you into this year-long journey of learning our history. We will cry, we will laugh, we will dream, and we will repent. However, what is important is that WE do it together.
—Geraud Brumfield, Campus Ministry Staff @ Fresno, California | March 23, 2021