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Pastor Francisco Ayala | What is a Lakelander?


A Lakelander 18 + years | Pastor of Nuevo Comienzo Church | Executive Director of Nuevo Comienzo Resource Center 


 

F rancisco embodies what it means to see in others what it is most important to you.

The pastor and community leader says a Lakelander “is someone who is willing to go the extra mile to help others. They have a big heart, they are kind, passionate, courageous, and understanding.”

God’s call on Francisco’s life led him and his wife to Lakeland in 2004 and ultimately to open a church that is less about what goes on inside its four walls, and more about how Lakelanders “love their neighbors” by meeting their needs.

He responded to people struggling to put food on their tables and lack of access to everyday essentials by creating what now has become the Nuevo Comienzo (Spanish for Fresh Start) Resource Center.

“The people [of Lakeland] are eager to help one another and it gets me excited to know that together we can make our communities better.”

When he’s not at the church, which is located by the entrance to Southeastern University, you can find him at the 6,200 square foot resource center on Reynolds Rd. that includes pallets of fresh food and home goods, as well as a thrift store where individuals and ministries can purchase like-new clothes, toys, furniture and more at affordable prices.

On an average month, Nuevo Comienzo provides more than 50,000 pounds of food to families across Florida, via its fleet of trucks and vans, and also through its weekly neighborhood outreach that meets the needs of more than 200 Lakelanders every Tuesday.  

“By doing this, the church has grown immensely,” he says. “We go into our church building to worship but we have to go out in the community to show people what we are doing.”

Francisco and his staff recently celebrated the move to the new warehouse, where trucks are frequently going in and out, thanks to sponsorships and partnerships with the likes of Humana, One More Child, Simply and others.

“The people [of Lakeland] are eager to help one another and it gets me excited to know that together we can make our communities better,” he says.

 

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