When God forged Israel into a young nation, he instituted three annual major feasts: The Feast of Unleavened bread, Feast of Harvests, and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles). The purpose was twofold. God enjoys a good party. Why? Because, as the Christian philosopher, Dr. Dallas Willard, once stated, “God is the most joyous being in the entire cosmos.” And, I couldn’t agree more. We are reminded of this truth when Jesus told the parable of the Prodigal Son. When the wayward son returned home where he belonged, the father, who according to Jesus exemplified God’s heart, threw him a party. It was an occasion to be joyous! It was a time to celebrate! Yes, there is a reason they are called “feasts!”
Therefore, it should not be a surprise that God wanted the nation to celebrate what he had accomplished for them, which was their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. This is the purpose for the Feast of Unleavened bread. But the God-appointed feasts were not for celebration only. God wanted the people to remember. God wanted the people to remember what he had provided them for their lives. Abundant crops. Shelter in the form of “booths” during their wilderness wanderings that provided protection from the inclement weather. God wanted the people to always realize he was their source and sustenance for their very existence. So, the purpose of the feasts was to celebrate and to remember their small beginnings, as a people, and then as a young nation with a new-found freedom.
Someone has said, “We remember what we should forget, and forget what we should remember!” Typically, we all can identify with such a struggle, for the human condition does tend to remember the wrong things and forget the things that are worth remembering. Here at Albany Helping Hands we do not want to be guilty of the latter. For it is now we want to remember and celebrate our nineteenth anniversary. It is the time we officially became a non-profit organization.
The significance of such an occasion cannot go unnoticed because it was then the mission of Albany Helping Hands began its expansion. During this time, we purchased the buildings for our current housing of 110 beds. Later we purchased the present location and building for our thrift store. It is also during this time we developed the production of cords of wood at our woodlot and the sale of Christmas trees. All these investments have been made in our effort to become self-sustaining.
Without question, God has blessed our mission here in Albany. So, it is during this month of September we want to take the time to remember, as well as celebrate our small beginnings. This ministry began with Pastor Les Bailey providing sandwiches to the needy, and a night of shelter in his church building during the cold wintry months. Today, we on average, provide over 7,000 meals a month, a shelter for over a 100 folks at night, as well as much needed clothing. Further yet, we also provide additional resources to facilitate transitional assistance such as job placements, housing, educational needs (GED classes, computer training), and health insurance or disability applications.
We, of course, will never forget the small beginnings of Helping Hands under the founding leadership of Pastor Bailey and the entire journey that has now brought us to our nineteenth anniversary of becoming a non-profit mission. In remembering this milestone, we are most grateful to you, and all those who have contributed financially in making our expansion viable in our community, and vital in the lives we have been privileged to serve over the years.
Now to celebrate this special occasion we are making an important appeal to raise $19,000 in 19 days, beginning on September 19th. Will you please consider making a special donation above and beyond that will demonstrate a joyful response of support to the work and ministry endeavor of Albany Helping Hands? Indeed, God not only enjoys a time of celebration but also a joyful giver. We thank you in advance for taking the time to celebrate with us our 19 years of joyful ministry to the neediest in our community, for without you none of it would have been possible.
May the Lord Bless You and Keep You,
Pastor John Leon
Executive Director, AHH