Fishers of Men (1949 – 1963)
1949: Mission Opens – 916 H. Street
The invitations had been sent out for a big wedding feast. The responses were limited. The excuses for not coming were many. The Host was disturbed. He wanted a full house. What would He do? That’s it! He would send His staff into the out-of-way and public places giving a compelling and personal invitation to anyone who would accept.
Looking Back with a Purpose
Into the wintry, cold, and rainy night a survey party of two looked for a point of beginning. Huddled in doorways, recesses of buildings, and against walls and fences trying to keep warm were the persons who were eligible for this compelling and urgent invitation. Both sides of the railroad passing through the downtown area presented the prospect of a constant flow of new persons to whom the invitation could be given.
Challenged by these scenes, the survey team of Dr. Dwight Trowbridge, Ophthalmologist, and Clifford Phillips, Building Contractor, gathered together a group of men to form a Board of Directors and Advisory Board. As in the Biblical pattern, seven men made up the first Board of Directors, with thirty-six men serving on the Advisory Board. All of these concerned men have since gone to their eternal rest. Thank God for each one of them!
The first Board of Directors was made up of the following dedicated men:
- Roy L. Larson, President.
- Clifford Phillips, Superintendent.
- Carl Gustofson, Treasurer.
- Glenn Newton, Secretary.
- Dr. Dwight Trowbridge.
- P. J. Ardelean.
- G. Tom Reeves .
The following remarks are taken from the Articles of Incorporation of the Fresno Rescue Mission:
“The purpose for which this corporation is formed are as follows: To establish and operate a mission for the purpose of reaching the unfortunate with the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls; to assist in the feeding and clothing and lodging of those who are in need of the same; to glorify God in the salvation of souls, the edification of Christians through the teaching of the Bible as God’s Word, and the promulgation of the Christian doctrines; the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures; the Virgin birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His death in atonement for the sins of the world; His bodily resurrection and ascension; salvation only by faith in His shed blood and the imminence of His return; to establish, maintain and conduct schools for the religious instructions of the young and to further religious and charitable work.”
The “Church In Overalls”
And so the Fresno Rescue Mission became the downtown arm of the church or the “Church in Overalls”, where the doors swing open to all those who pass by. There is always a welcome awaiting those who come through its doors. Here, then, is a place where mankind can come out of the cold of the night or heat of the day and find comfort and nourishment for the body and soul. Many a wayward man or woman, hearing the message of God’s love for mankind, readily accepts the invitation; for they are hungry for the real love that only Christ can give.
The Mission stands ready to help those who want to be helped. Work is given them around the Mission for a few days in order that they might become strengthened in the Lord. Their food, clothing, and lodging are taken care of in return for their work. Those with medical needs are attended to on the several nights a week when the Medical Clinic is open for visits. Here under the direction of Dr. Dwight Trowbridge and the voluntary services of concerned doctors and nurses of this community, the medical needs of thousands of men (also women and children) have been ministered to during the past thirty years.
1949/1950: KRDU Radio Ministry Begins
Late in 1949/1950, a radio ministry was started; a fifteen minute program on Radio Station KRDU in Dinuba. Other stations were added and dropped as their effectiveness was determined.
1950: Mission Moved – 1807 Tulare St. – Able to feed and house men!
God blessed in a marvelous way and the work began to grow. Soon the place was packed with men and women who needed both physical and spiritual help. After six months at this place we realized that a larger place was needed. So in January 1950, we moved to larger quarters at 1807 Tulare Street. Here we have more room, a kitchen where food is prepared and sleeping quarters for a few men.
1952: Mission Moved – 911 ‘G’ Street
A move to 911 ‘G’ Street was made in September of 1952, but not without much advance work. This property was purchased in April of 1952 and much time and effort was spent in repairing, remodeling and painting.
1952: Women’s Auxiliary – “Fresno Rescue Mission’s Women’s Fellowship”
October 31, 1952 marked the organization of the Fresno Rescue Mission’sWomen’s Fellowship (now the Auxiliary) with Mrs. Estelle Phillips, President; Mrs. Tom Reeves, Vice President; Mrs. Arthur Falch, Secretary; Mrs. John Pedersen, Treasurer; Mrs. James Morey, Sewing Chairman; and Mrs. Edna Petersen, Prayer Chairman, and Mrs. Clifford Smith, Social Chairman.
1953: Ranch Purchased – “New Hope Ranch” (80 acre ranch in North Fork)
After about a year at 911 ‘G’ Street, the need to move the converts to a new environment for training became a burden. And in December 1953, an 80 acre ranch near North Fork was purchased; a paved road right to the property, electricity, spring water, three dormitories, a church seating 250 people, two good houses, shop, garage, chicken houses, everything needed for the project in mind.
1954: Fresno District Fair – “Booth Ministry” – (1954 – 1981)
For many years the Fresno Rescue Mission had a gospel ministry presence at the annual Fresno County Fair. The purpose was, first of all, to be an instrument of evangelism. During the years the Mission had mobile chapels, taken to the fair for the purpose of evangelism – often with the help of Child Evangelism Fellowship (the children.) Many early Child Evangelism pioneers – like Emma Popp – were an important part of this ministry.
Part of the booth was set aside as a prayer / counseling room. Gospel tracks were given out by the thousands, mostly in the form of “gospel bombs.” Those were gospel tracts rolled up in brightly colored cellophane. Crowds of kids were then “bombed” by FRM staffers throwing gospel bombs into the mid-way.
Only eternity will tell of how many were won to the Lord through this ministry.
1955: Host of the I.U.G.M. – May 1955
1959: New Hope Ranch – Property Sold