People gather at Veterans Park, pray for peace
Santa Paula News
Published: July 26, 2013
Motivated by a common resolve to end violence in the City of Santa Paula, approximately 100 people from local Christian churches gathered at Veterans Park on Monday night to pray for peace.
Encouraged by organizer, Evelyn Bolanos of Santa Paula, and rousted by posts on Facebook, people with the common experience of being affected by violence gathered to declare that God changes lives.
Attendees reached agreement that violence is way beyond acceptable limits in the City and that families needed to be strengthened. Many spoke of previous addictions and criminal behavior and how people who came alongside them making a difference. Each spoke about how God changed their lives when they realized they had reached desperate levels.
Numerous parents spoke of the importance of not giving upon children who seemed lost. Several spoke of how they had reached sobriety and returned to school or to work by escaping the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime. Some spoke of their continuing efforts to fight addictions ranging from alcohol to crystal meth, heroin and weed.
“God wants us to live in peace, and it has to begin with changing lives. He wants to do that. When lives are changed, the City will change,” noted Bolanos.
Several members of the clergy were also present. Father Charles Lueras stated, “Our City is loved by many people. It is loved by God and He loves the people in it. By His power, we can effect change in Santa Paula.”
Pastor Jenny Crosswhite from the First Christian Church commented, “We need to continue to gather in prayer and we need to combine the power of prayer with action. We cannot remain silent and inactive as the Body of Christ and the people of Santa Paula any longer.”
It the 1990’s a civic group led by Henry Nava worked with police and rival gangs to meet and declare a truce. Those gang members are now parents of teens and the cycle has continued. Henry was contacted on Tuesday and agreed to participate in a new task force forming to look at working with our police department and community leaders to bring peace to the City and its families.
One of the speakers was Veronica Sandez who left a life drugs and alcohol. “I came out of the river four years ago with a Bible in my hand. There were many people who walked with me as I sought change in my life. I now have three jobs and my own place to live. God made that change. I had to cooperate but you can do it if you want to. There are dozens of people in Santa Paula who are tired of that life. It’s a hard one. We need to show them how to change.”
Pastor Adele Garza from Puente de Vida Church and a member of the Police Clergy Council was not able to attend the event but commented on Tuesday that there are many strongholds in the City which must be broken. She believes they can be broken by believing that God is greater than any opposition we face. We need to become a community committed to prayer.”_
Prayer vigils will continue to be held on Monday nights at 7 pm at Veterans Park, next to the post office. For more information, contact Evelyn Bolanos at 805.415.1442.