A Message from Jodi Matthews

Dear Friends,

What an amazing year this has been at Urban Vision! What a joy it was to celebrate with so many of you at our 25th Anniversary as we thanked God for His faithfulness to us in the past, in our present, and now going into our future. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever…” Hebrews 13:8

     It was joy inexpressible this year to celebrate how our staff has grown to begin to represent the diversity of the community we live in. The next generation of leaders is rising up: To name a few, Ni Doh (age 19) is learning to run our Dignity Stores; Eh Dah Doe (20), Joseph (20), and Braseanna (18) lead classes at S.O.S. after school, like gardening, writing, and art; Bobbi (21) teaches the Bible at Kids’ Club; Tho Tho Da (20) is learning to do UV’s accounting and finances. Many of you have supported and volunteered with us as these young adults (and so many others) have grown up at Urban Vision, and now we are beginning to see fruit emerging from their tender lives, impacted by the nurturing of the many who have poured into them. This is the future generation taking ownership and seeing the vision become a reality!

     There are so many reasons why I love being at Urban Vision, and the diversity of living and loving amongst a representation of over 30 cultures in our small North Hill community is definitely one of them! There is such richness in getting to know people from different backgrounds, who come from all over the world, and whom God brings to our doorsteps on a weekly basis through programs like Kids’ Club, Summer Day Camp, S.O.S after school, and adult English classes. Just this week we had 4 new Congolese children come to Kids’ Club for the first time, and already one of the little girls wants to help me sing a Bible song on stage for the other children!

     Urban Vision has become a refuge for so many! That is why our need for volunteers, financial supporters, and prayer partners is growing as well. Urban Vision is a place of friendship, love, and understanding within a true caring community of Christ followers! The halls of Urban Vision are a buzz of talk and laughter of both participants and volunteers, a daily reminder of the warmth of God’s presence that resides in this place. I get so tickled when one of our young kids happily proclaims to me that he is going to “Chest” next — when of course he is going to learn the game of Chess, which will help give him problem-solving skills for life! (Ok… we are working on pronouncing certain words!) Yes, programs are the door-openers for kids and their families to come! But it really is the people— our faithful staff, volunteers, and those who pray and give— who bring the personal  touch that breathes life into the structure of the programs.     

God uses individual people to overflow His love in the simple acts of love and kindness that take place at Urban Vision on a daily basis.

For example, I think of one of our volunteers, a retired school teacher, who arrives early many times throughout the week to greet the children as they get off the van and enter Urban Vision. This particular volunteer stopped me recently to say how thankful she was to be at UV and how she could not imagine her life without it. With all her skills of teaching, this woman says that no matter how much she pours out it doesn’t compare to the love she receives back as she helps kids organize their notebooks and spends time giving encouraging words to see our kids set on success— both now and for their futures.

     Often God places us where He can use us in the little moments, as we walk alongside others who may need a timely word, an expression of kindness, or a visible reminder that God sees them, that He is for them and not against them Many of our neighbors face enormous challenges, like learning a new language or finding a job to support their family. Crime and violence have been on the rise in our community, which spreads fear and leaves people feeling defenseless. However, even in the middle of life’s hard times, God uses His people in those little moments to knit hearts together through relationships that keep our kids and families coming, keeps them growing into all that He has for them to be.

     I will never forget one example: while volunteering at our local elementary school, I noticed a little Hispanic girl who also attends Kids’ Club was having a rough day, feeling a little left out. It wasn’t long before the tears came, and my heart broke for her in the midst of her sorrow. Because God had placed me there in that moment, I was able to walk over, give her a hug, and assure her that I would see her at Kids’ Club that afternoon, and it was going to be ok. It wasn’t a major thing, but one little hug goes a long way! Sure enough, I soon saw her at Kids’ Club, with her smile all intact and joy back in her heart! You see, I believe it is in those moments— whether it’s helping to organize a backpack, taking time to  pray and sit together, or just giving a hug when one is needed—that we are putting in motion the Presence of God. The love shared in the relationship allows what we do through the program to succeed.

    This Christmas season I am reminded of God’s love that became so personal to us in the birth of His Son, Immanuel: God with us, Deity in flesh!  Jesus knows what it is like to feel the struggles of our humanity—what it means to weep, to be hungry, to be alone, rejected and misunderstood—but He gives hope and victory when we can turn to Him. For the past 25 years, Urban Vision has been faithful to the vision of seeing lives transformed by the love and hope of Jesus Christ, walking alongside others to encourage and empower them to know Christ and to live out His plan: for a hurting world to see what a mighty God can do!     

Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us in this ministry, by giving a generous gift that will help us continue the work that God has put into motion? Generations of kids and families being transformed by the Gospel of Christ will continue to impact the community of North Hill in a dynamic way, but we cannot do this alone! Every gift given in the month of December will be matched (up to $109,000),  which will help meet a great need for the year to come. Your gift, large or small, matters because it matters to the children, the teens, the young adults, and the families of our community, and most of all it matters to God!

     Both Rodney and I and all those at Urban Vision thank God for all of you who pray, volunteer, and give:  you are that tangible expression of God’s amazing love and presence! We want to wish all of you a very blessed Christmas and a joyful New Year, praying that you, too, will know the joy of sharing in His presence!

 

Joy and Peace to You and Yours,

   

 

 

Founder & Director