Searching for something big

Calling on locals in the 60-plus Christian groups to come together to spread the word

The author, a Chico resident, is former executive director of the Jesus Center.

I had a troubled mind recently while watching an evangelist hold a rapt audience of about 400 local Protestants and curious onlookers at Chico City Plaza. Men and women in yellow and blue T-shirts walked among the crowd and combed the streets talking to anyone who would listen.

A 71-year-old with a strong accent enthused to me about how, after 27 years as a police officer in Sydney, Australia, he sold his house, moved to Redding and enrolled in a program to make him a follower of Jesus. He recounted “crusades” in Argentina and Mexico and how he’d been to so many new places. And now here he was, along with dozens of others, all out-of-towners from Redding and nearby Richardson Springs, disturbing the splendor of an early evening in Chico.

I was struck by the effrontery of their message that Jesus was the most influential person who’d ever lived, that his crucifixion atoned for our sins before God, and that his resurrection promised the hope of life after death.

I was confused. I always thought Christians were a sort of community glue, dutifully gathering each Sunday morning, unobtrusively putting in 40-hour weeks, being good neighbors working for the betterment of the city.

But didn’t Jesus himself visit towns throughout Galilee proclaiming, “It’s zero-hour—time to make a decision about where your life is going”? Didn’t people abandon their possessions to follow him? Didn’t Jesus and his followers (intellectuals, business women, slaves, beggars) turn society on its head—all of them proclaiming: “Something new has happened”?

Now you know why I was troubled. Imagine that happening in Chico—not with people from Redding and Richardson Springs, but from the 60-plus Christian groups here. Imagine churches churning out teenagers, soccer moms and 71-year-olds ready at the drop of a hat to tell about new possibilities of living.

Why, I think I’d even cozy up to all the young-earthers, cyclopic literalists and holy rollers just to be part of something that big. Contact me at if you’re troubled as I was and let’s do something about it.