Tony Evans challenges community leaders

Dr. Tony Evans speaks about overcoming hopelessness Thursday at Marshall Junior High School. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

By Gary Mitchell

Dallas evangelist Tony Evans told a Thursday crusade audience of 350 to 400 people he had a theme verse for the proposed Matt. 25 Project to renovate the old Memorial Hospital — Jeremiah 29:11.
“The verse states: ‘I have plans for you, saith the Lord — plans for your well-being and not your calamity, to give you a future and a hope,’” he said.
The Matt. 25 Project came about through the formation of a non-profit corporation whose “sole purpose is to acquire and remodel the old Memorial Hospital building,” said Gary Bender, a Clovis businessman involved in the project. “Our plan is to turn it into a ministry resource center. We hope to have a number of Christian ministries there.”
The name Matt. 25 comes from the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The chapter contains the verse, in part, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these … you have done it unto me.”
Evans encouraged the continuance of the project in the community.
“God has big plans for you,” he said. “It can be a place where people can find help and hope — a place where a drug addict can come and be set free, a place where a high school dropout can get his diploma, where needs and hurts are met and healed.”
The two-day “It’s Your City — Take It Back II” crusade is sponsored by the Communities for Christ Crusade Steering Committee. Some of the steering committee members will serve on the board of the Matt. 25 project.
Clovis school superintendent Neil Nuttall, a steering committee member, hosted Thursday’s event.
“This gentleman came to our community (two years ago) led by God in a way I’ve never seen before,” Nuttall said in his introduction of Evans. “He was taken by the old hospital, and Dr. Evans asked what that building was, and when Bob Brack told him it was the old hospital that was vacant, Dr. Evans said, ‘God has a purpose for that building, and he will let you know about it.’ ”
Evans himself recalled the incident.
“I do remember that drive when we passed by the old Memorial Hospital,” he said. “I knew that physical plant was put here for kingdom purposes — for it to be a place to bring together ministries under one roof to heal the hurts all around the area.”
Evans said the world is filled with much hopelessness.
“There’s something about hopelessness that it spreads,” he said. “You hear some birds singing outside your window, and you look out to see a flock of vultures — now that’s a hopeless situation.”
Evans said we can make light of those situations, but “people often find themselves in hopeless situations.”
“You can feel hopelessness — it’s thick, it’s a fog that won’t lift,” he said. “It’s an overcast sky. It’s seeing no light, and then when you see a light, it’s an oncoming train.”
That’s where the theme verse of Jeremiah 29:11 comes into play, Evans said.
“It’s a good verse in a bad chapter — in fact, in a bad book. If you’re depressed, don’t read Jeremiah. When people come to your new center, they’ll come with a bad chapter or even a bad book. Their life is a bad book. But folks will come to the Matt. 25 Project and even if they have a bad chapter or a bad book, they all can read the same awesome verse — ‘I have a plan that’s a great plan, says the Lord, even though you’re in a bad way.’ ”
The final session of the crusade will take place at 7 p.m. Friday in Marshall Auditorium.