I described in Part 1 how the Lord our God declared His name for my city – and by extension the Northern California region and all of California – was Abundant Springs. He invented human speech; it should not shock that I write things like, “He revealed…” The revelation continues to unfold in counterintuitive albeit pragmatic fashion.
Several more years passed before the Lord revealed another dimension of His plan for revitalizing the state to that same newcomer with as little business acumen as he has longevity in Redding. This reveal was that nonprofits – oriented to vision and service before product – would lead the way to renaissance in Redding. During the recession, nonprofits have flourished. The Good News Rescue Mission, for example, has opened a new counseling center, a new home for female clients and a mental health program to take up the slack left by county budget cuts. They are finding jobs for graduates of their programs while setting standards of excellence across the board.
In the same vein, Bethel Church – through a blind holding company that successfully avoids church-state entanglement – has taken over management of the city’s convention center after city government contemplated bankruptcy and secular sources failed to offer better plans than the church-based group. The fruit is spectacular; the center is profitable and providing new jobs for the first time in years, and the community is cheering the new team on. In addition, that church’s burgeoning school of ministry and other programs are drawing people and resources into Redding; they are an economic as well as a spiritual force to be reckoned with. These vision-based perspectives are rubbing off on secular visionaries as well.
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When City Council hopeful Julie Winter kicked off her campaign in early spring, her first guest speaker was Bruce Dean, co-founder of the Black Bear Diner chain. The founding vision in 1994 was down-home food for travelers and vacationers to Mount Shasta. The plan was hard work and the faith to work harder still, but the vision and the service it generated was always paramount. In just over two decades the company has expanded to nearly 80 locations in eight states from its headquarters in Redding, a phenomenal track record for a restaurant business in which most successes become failures because they expand faster than they can keep up with their own success. But Dean was not present to talk of his own victories.
He and Winter announced the past 12 months have seen some 50 successful startup businesses in Redding alone. Each of them has the potential to move faster and farther than Dean’s business. He and Winter speak of a new passion to place more and more leaders in all spheres with a vision for an Abundant Springs-type of city.
None of this is magical. The Abundant Springs vision-word was given 12 years ago. It has not moved quickly and Redding has known its share of hard times in this over-managed and under-prayed economy. But the word has unfolded with developing extrapolations beginning with God’s promise of abundance that mirrors Jesus’ declaration of abundant life in John 10. God telegraphed His insistence that authentic service supports His Kingdom on earth and so is the current ticket to success in His created world. More recently He demonstrates His favor on those concerns with a focus on vision leading the way to recovery.
Two factors stand out in this toddling renaissance. Every aspect begins with God-given vision before product or ambition – for He is the one source of all vision, as opposed to agenda. And every aspect proceeds with hard work and an attitude that sees obstacles as challenging opportunities. God Himself declares – in Zechariah 8:9-17 – that we must let our hands be strong if we would participate in His redemption. After honoring and addressing factors one and two they return to number one. Every time.
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This renaissance has a long way to go; God things always do. It is staffed by very human – read “very flawed” – players, as God things always are. But He has shown His cards one at a time from the beginning. Redding, and any community wanting to be all it can and ought to be, has a chance without precedence to establish a culture of repentance – understood as refocus on the Author and Redeemer of community – and simply follow where He leads. He did come that we might have abundant life. This is the real vision and concept of Abundant Springs, wherever it might be.
By the way, speaking of medical breakthroughs earlier, this approach has no side effects and it declines to re-invent what God has already created.
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