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Judge’s sentence credits Drake with 1,500 hours of service

BUENA PARK, Calif. (BP)??Pastor Wiley Drake was sentenced Sept. 19 to 1,500 hours of community service for his role in helping homeless people through First Southern Baptist Church, Buena Park, Calif.
Judge Gregg L. Prickett then credited Drake for 1,500 hours already served, based on evidence presented during a three?week criminal trial in July. A jury in that trial found Drake and the church guilty of four counts of misdemeanor criminal actions that violated the city’s zoning laws.
The city’s concerns related to the church’s ministry programs that permit homeless people to live on the church property.
“It’s a shame when it becomes necessary in this day and age for a case like this to end up in criminal court,” Prickett said, adding while there was a need to help the homeless, the city has a duty to protect its citizens by upholding the law.
“That doesn’t mean we stop helping people,” Prickett said. “I myself am involved with a food distribution program for the poor.”
First Southern was placed on three years’ informal probation. A progress report is to be presented in November to the court describing steps the church is taking to come into compliance with city codes.
“In other words, whatever we’re doing that’s illegal, we have to show good faith that we are correcting that,” explained Drake, who has been pastor of the church for 10 years. “The judge said we are to comply with all reasonable terms and regulations of the Buena Park municipal court, and he said ‘reasonable’ was going to be his determination, not the city’s.”
The church remains in technical violation of city codes, Drake acknowledged. At present, 74 people are living on the church property.
Drake’s problems with the city stem from the fact he refuses to tell anyone they must leave when they have approached the church for sanctuary.
“This has been one of those circumstances where we did our best to comply with man’s law, but the bottom line was, we had to obey God’s law,” Drake said. “God honored Psalms 41:1?2 that said, ‘… blessed is he that considered the poor.’ I can testify that God indeed delivered us in our time of trouble and he preserved us.
“And he also said we shall be blessed,” Drake continued. “One large company told us today they were sending two 18?wheelers loaded with food to us. Because we considered the poor, the Lord delivered us, preserved us and God has indeed kept his promise to us.”