By Andrew Franklin
The psalmist instructs us to “sing to the LORD, bless his name, and tell of his salvation from day to day. We declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods” (Ps. 96:3-4). The types of declarations I often make are ones about what God has done for me, because they are the most tangible. Lately I have been aware that there are a lot of good things God has been doing, both in me but also around me, and often I do not declare these mighty works. There are countless opportunities to declare the goodness of God, especially if we pay attention to the frequent events often overlooked — like when we go to sleep and wake up again. David praises God for this very thing, see Psalm 3:5!
With regards to a very specific area in this church, I have been convicted that God has been working clearly, profoundly, and often without proper celebration or recognition. God has given Solano Community Church great favor with the poor in our city, as well as with the city government, and God has brought about changes in Albany which reflect the values of his Kingdom.
When God called us to build relationships with the homeless community living on the waterfront over 5 years ago, we had no agenda or goals, we simply wanted to reflect Jesus Christ to our neighbors. Because of our relationship with this community, the city of Albany approached SCC to learn more about our homeless neighbors. Since this relationship began, God orchestrated many things to be celebrated:
– significant Albany staff hours, including those of the City Manager, were dedicated to conversations with SCC members to learn about the homeless on the waterfront (Bulb).
– the formation of the Homeless Task Force in Albany–a group concerned with the interests of the poor in Albany. Albany had never had a group like this before.
– Albany asked SCC to help select a service provider from multiple proposals. We selected the Berkeley Food and Housing Project (BFHP).
– for the first time, Albany dedicated considerable funds for working with its homeless population in hiring BFHP case-workers to provide services and find housing for the homeless.
– the formation of the Diverse Housing Working Group (DHWG), a group that is concerned with housing opportunities for the neediest members of our community.
– DHWG advocated for the 2015-2022 Housing Element to provide housing opportunities for very low-income residents.
– Albany adopted the 2015-2022 Housing Element with just such provisions!
– in the last year, zoning changes were made to make it possible to have a homeless shelter or similar facility in certain parts of Albany. No plans for this are in the works, but this is a positive step.
– Albany is discussing what it would look like to have a drop-in center providing resources and information to low-income residents in need. This seems possible – please pray!
I do not say any of this to seek any glory for our local church, because clearly none of these examples would be possible without people’s hearts being changed and doors being opened. This is the work of the Lord.
Nor do I say any of this to suggest that as a city or a church we are finished, or that we have solved any grand problems, or that we now treat the poor as God intends. Nor is this to say that we as a church have done all we could do, nor to endorse how Albany has worked with the homeless.
I write this to acknowledge that through this church, through your prayers and help and support, God is moving in this city and we should declare God’s goodness for what he has done! We must now press on, praying that God’s Kingdom comes and that his will is done in the East Bay, just like it is in heaven. Come, Lord Jesus! ©