Wow, what a season it has been at Urban Vision this past year! Praise God! Let me share with you some of His mercies for our “Urban Vision Family” in 2018…
We were able to expand our S.O.S. (Set On Success) Afterschool program up to 150 children who now fill the halls of Urban Vision on a daily basis! We have over 50 children enrolled in our On Your Mark preschool readiness program, preparing them for success for years to come. We have more adults than ever coming to The Living Room to improve their language abilities—people from all over the world—and over half of the 60 who come have never been introduced to the love of Jesus before. We have outreached to hundreds of children in our community through our Day Camp and Kids’ Club, sharing the love of Jesus with so many who need to know that Jesus cares for them!
The Lord has even grown our UV leadership this year. Several of our young adults, who grew up participating in UV programming, are now on staff, learning to lead and facilitate programming for our current UV kids! Micah, our oldest son, married Holly Anne this past May and brought her “home” to North Hill— both now serve with us here at UV. We welcomed two adults to God’s family this year when they gave their hearts to Jesus, and then we welcomed them to our UV Family as staff members as well— sharing the joy they have found in Christ with others. He is faithful!
How can we begin to say “thank you” to all of you who have prayed faithfully, given generously, and volunteered your time with servant hearts, to allow Urban Vision to reach so many with the Good News of the Gospel. Like the song we sing so often at Kids’ Club says:
“To God be the glory—great things He has done!”
Yes, it has been a season of rejoicing in so many ways, and yet in the midst of this season I have encountered sorrow like I have never experienced before in my life. On July 3rd, 2018, Diane White—my mother, my best friend, and the encourager of our family and ministry— was called on to her heavenly home with the Savior she loved.
My mom was one of the best storytellers I knew, and I have fond memories of her teaching not only my children, but children from everywhere— including at Urban Vision. She impacted young lives with love and Truth as she creatively articulated the Word of God for little ears to hear. Even a year after she was physically unable to come tell stories anymore, one little boy named James asked me about where my mom was, because he missed seeing her. I have to say, in the past few months I have had the same yearning in my heart. I just miss seeing her, and would give anything to hear her tell just one more Bible story. 4 months later, without much time to even process this sorrow, another has made its way into already hurting hearts: my younger brother, who has been wrestling with an illness for over 3 years, is now fighting to stay alive with each passing day. It’s so hard to get my mind around all this constant pain… I know many of you have faced similar sorrows, and understand when I say: I often feel like “life is not good—it’s just downright painful!”
However, we don’t grieve without hope—for I know one day we will see my mom again, fully restored, and I am sure I will get to hear more of her great stories from the Bible. And even in this time of sorrow, I still find so much joy being at Urban Vision, as I get to teach the kids Bible stories like my mom once did— stories that jump out of the pages of God’s Word and into the hearts of anyone willing to listen. As I begin to teach, I am reminded that even in my great sorrow, there is a greater hope of a Savior who is moving in the lives of so many we have the privilege to walk alongside.
Yes, my heart has been broken in so many ways, yet I have found the Apostle Paul’s words to be true when he articulates how he can be “sorrowful yet rejoicing….” (II Corinthians 6:10). This fall, after I finished teaching a Bible lesson at S.O.S., a 5th grade boy came up to me and said—with all the seriousness he could muster— “this story of God’s love moved me to tears.” Indeed, it is possible to be fully engaged in rejoicing and yet fully sorrowful from being broken.
So much in our community seems broken—poverty, crime, drug addictions— but once surrendered, out of the brokenness comes a strength, a courage, a hope: because Jesus has the victory! We as followers of Jesus fully know and believe that after death comes resurrection. It is like the seasons: somehow, out of the dead of winter, new life springs up again… Jesus himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life!” I wouldn’t have chosen this season for myself or my family, but a God who loves me did, and I need to trust that there is a resurrection coming—for His power is perfected in weakness, and when we are weak He is strong. He just gives me more of Him, more of His grace.
So somehow, in some way, beauty comes from brokenness… and I am blessed to see God moving in the hearts of so many at Urban Vision. Like the hearts of hundreds of children who lift their hands in worship with me each week… Like the hearts of our newest staff members, so eager to proclaim their newfound joy… Like a 5th grade boy’s heart touched by the message of the gospel, so is my heart moved to tears by how His love has met me in my brokenness—for His Grace is sufficient for me… and for all of us!
Indeed, we thank God for so many who give so generously, sacrificing so much, so that others have an opportunity to know the love and grace of Jesus. To bring the light of the Gospel into the darkness and brokenness of our community is a privilege and a blessing, and we could never walk this road without the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us and helping us to press on in our ministry. We are so grateful to let all of you know of an opportunity to steward His blessings well: In the month of December, thanks to some generous givers, every dollar given to Urban Vision will be matched (up to $80,000), which will help us continue the work of seeing God’s Kingdom grow in our diverse community here in North Hill. God is so faithful to use His people to meet our ever-growing needs as we walk alongside so many on this beautifully broken journey. Would you prayerfully consider how you could be a part of this blessing?
May God fill your hearts with His love, peace, and comfort in whatever season you are in today. Both Rodney and I, along with our Staff and Board, wish all of you a very Christ-filled Christmas and a peace-filled New Year. Yes— to God be the glory for the Great things He still will do through you and through me… beautifully broken!
Joy and Peace to You and Yours,
Jodi M. Matthews
Founder & Director