“Unlikely: Setting Aside Our Differences to Live Out the Gospel” by Kevin Palau— An Unlikely Patnership


Palau, Kevin. “Unlikely: Setting Aside Our Differences to Live Out the Gospel”, Howard Books reprint edition, 2016.

An Unlikely Partnership

Amos Lassen

 “Unlikely” is the inspiring story of an unlikely partnership between a group of churches and the openly gay mayor of Portland and this led to unprecedented change throughout the city and launched a nationwide movement called CityServe.

Portland is one the most “unchurched” and politically progressive cities in the nation. We would not expect Portland to be home to one of the most successful partnerships between local government and area churches. But it is.

In 2007, Kevin Palau and a few dozen pastors approached Portland’s mayor and asked the question: “How can we serve you with no strings attached?” City officials then identified five initial areas of need—hunger, homelessness, healthcare, the environment, and public schools and it was here that began a partnership, CityServe, between the city and a band of churches that sought to live out the gospel message. Since then, the CityServe model has spread inspiring communities across the country to take up the cause in their own cities.

This is not just the story of the inception of CityServe, but it is also a challenge to readers to evaluate their understanding of the gospel. Today’s church is in the middle between social justice and direct proclamation. Here we have a proposal and scenario that shows how the gospel can truly penetrate and change an region by word and deed.

CityServe proves that when differences can be put aside for a worthy cause, real change can be attained, and unlikely beauty is born. Sam Adams was the first openly gay mayor in a major U.S. city. Kevin Palau is the son of evangelist Luis Palau. Their worldviews are miles apart yet Kevin Palau befriended Adams and they remain friends to this day. That might seem like an unlikely friendship but that’s what Kevin Palau believes to be a symptom of a Christian simply following Jesus’ command to love. And the love didn’t stop there. Unlikely is the story of Kevin Palau’s friendship with Sam Adams, and how Palau and thousands of other Christians around the Portland metropolitan area partnered (and continue to partner) with Portland political leaders, school officials, the LGBT community, and many others to “seek the welfare of the city” of Portland. When Palau and other Christians reached out to Sam Adams and others in the spirit Christianity, an unlikely story resulted.

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