(Photo: Nicola Menzie)
Speaking to a room of hundreds of Christian urban and community development leaders, Christian evangelist Luis Palau stressed that works done on the city's behalf must including sharing the Gospel.
"Together with serving you've got to proclaim the good news because if you don't verbalize the gospel they may read the service wrong. You've got to tell them why you're doing it and share the love of Christ," said Palau.
Palau's comments came as part of the fourth annual Movement Day in New York City, a conference aimed at bringing together pastors and community leaders specifically aiming to working for the betterment of their city.
The Argentine-born Palau also addressed the influence and growth of the "Hispanic church" in the New York City metro area, which is home to 4 million Hispanics. Close to 2,500 Spanish speaking churches exist in New York City alone, many of which have organize their own outreach and evangelism to their communities.
Palau, whom some have called the "Latin Billy Graham," shared that he had recently been working with Spanish-speaking church leaders in New York City to plan festivals aimed at reaching more of their communities with the Gospel.
"In the old days [they called it a] crusade, now it's a festival. Same thing, different title to protect your head if you know what I mean," he said as the audience broke out into laughter.
Palau also addressed the importance of churches coming together across racial and cultural lines and said that at a recent Spanish-speaking church festival in Connecticut, a Korean-American pastor had insisted on reaching out to the Hispanic community by speaking at it.
"He got up and he said 'We Koreans want to be part of your campaign. This cannot just be Hispanic. Koreans want to be in on it',"said Palau.
Palau, who has lived in Portland, Ore. since 1960, said that many Hispanics are grateful for what the United States has offered them and their families.
"We Hispanics want to say 'thank you' to the United States that they let us in. Most of them," Palau joked with the audience. "And we could get an education and our kids could live a better life or we could make a better living and there's no political persecution."
"I'm an American. I carry my passport in case the INS shows up because I got a funny name," Palau said as he sent the audience into more laughter.