It is one of many tragic stories that have touched the hearts of the people of Las Vegas…
including Ernie Loya, benevolence outreach for Downtown Faith. On March 21, Serge Fournier, age 74, was riding on the bus. Cadesha Bishop, age 25, also a passenger, was alleged to be arguing and yelling at other passengers. Serge reportedly asked her to be nice. When he was exiting from the back door, Bishop pushed him off the bus, and he fell down as seen on video.
Serge was reported to have refused medical attention at the scene but did go to the hospital later due to his injuries. Sadly, Serge lived in pain for one month before succumbing to his injuries. The Clark County Coroner ruled that Serge died of “complications of blunt force torso injuries” and his death was listed as a homicide. Bishop was arrested and charged with murder, abuse of an older person, and battery resulting in substantial bodily harm. She has pleaded not guilty, and the trial is scheduled in 2020.
That is the news story. But there are the human faces behind the headlines.
Serge lived in the downtown area at the Desert Plaza Senior Apartments with his long-time partner Esther. The community held a yard sale to help Esther. An anonymous donor paid for a memorial to Serge to be placed at the East Las Vegas Community Center. The outpouring of love and concerning surrounded the tragedy.
Ernie first heard about what happened to Serge through the local news. At the time, Serge was still alive but injured.
“I thought about what she was going through and found out they lived in the downtown area, blocks from my church,” Ernie said. “I wanted to reach out to her and let her know she was not alone, she was loved, and she was in our thoughts.”
The outreach liaison for Downtown Faith, J.P. Chua, helped Ernie track down their address. During this time, Serge passed away.
“Even though she didn’t know us, she was so appreciative to have someone come to visit her,” Ernie recounted. Esther was experiencing financial hardships, and Downtown Faith gave her a check to help. “It just blew her away, and she was so grateful. It was great to be part of this and share with someone.”
“I am finding out more and more that my deep relationship with Jesus really matters in all that I do. Even before I first met with Jeremy and started attending Downtown Faith, my wife Connie and I both tried to be good. We operated a restaurant downtown, tried to be good neighbors and help our employees. We wanted to live our lives as good people. After meeting Jeremy and starting Downtown Faith, something sparked in me, and I wanted to work on my spiritual relationship with Jesus.”
Ernie discovered that even being a good person can lack purpose without God in our lives. He needed to build that one-on-one relationship with Jesus and develop a deeper meaning.
“A person can do good things to serve the Lord, and that gives all good works a purpose. I look back at how I was feeling before, and now I want to lead by example following Jesus to represent our church.” When Jeremy asked Ernie about taking on the role of benevolence outreach for Downtown Faith, it felt like an extension of how Ernie felt already. It is through the combined efforts of the members of the church that Ernie can reach out with good works in His Name.
Ernie acknowledges that doing good works is a balancing act on a fine line between boasting and celebrating. “We want to go out there and give back, but the reason why we are doing this is the important thing. It isn’t just an individual effort. It should be done in Jesus’ name.”
Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.
James 2:26: For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
1 Corinthians 16:14: Let all that you do be done in love.
Author/Interviewer: Debbie Hall