Founders Reflection on Year 1
Dear friends, As we think back on all that God has done since we stepped out in faith and said yes to the vision that He gave us, it is with full hearts that we write this letter, marking the end of our first year in existence as UrbanPromise Nashville. One of the most climactic events in all of biblical history is found in Joshua 3-4. The Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness for forty years, waiting for the day when they could get out of the desert and put down some roots. They had heard their parents and grandparents talk about a divinely appointed place that one day their people would be given. And today was that day. It must have felt surreal for the people to actually see the land they had only heard about. Surely it was overwhelming. The only thing that stood between them and their new home was a river, which they found at flood stage. The Jordan River was impassible. It looked impossible. God in all of His glory and grandeur intervened (notably after the priests had stepped into the high, rushing waters), performing a miracle that paralleled the parting of the Red Sea years before. God rolled back the waters of the Jordan River building a dry land highway in the middle of what was once a sopping river bed. Here was His signature again, in the same way, to assure His people that He was good to His word. Imaginably, there were gasps, whoops, hollers, shouts, and songs as God's people worshipped Him. After Israel crossed, God gave Joshua some very specific instructions, recorded in Joshua 4:1-3, "Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, and command them, 'Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests' feet are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.' " Joshua did exactly what he was told, sending a dozen representatives back into the heart of the river to bring back 12 stones—stones that had been buried, unreachable, covered by a challenge to the faith of God's people, but were now divinely accessible. Hoisting these heavy stones to their shoulders from Jordan's floor they then piled them together in the new land. They were stacked there as a sign, an unmistakable marker at the very place where God had demonstrated His power to overcome any obstacle to His will. Because stones don't naturally stack, there would come a day when Israel's children would ask for an explanation for this memorial. Here's the answer God wants the next generation to know: "Tell them the story of how the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the Lord's covenant...This is so that all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord's hand is mighty, and so that you might fear the Lord your God forever." This is what happens when the impossible meets the vision of God.
Three weeks ago we stood at the top of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a National Park in Colorado, with six of our StreetLeaders who were once refugees from Burma, Rwanda, and the Congo, two of our summer interns, four of our super volunteers, and our four kids. A year ago, we were dreaming of this mountain-top moment, and we wanted to remember. Over the past year, God has faithfully and consistently provided for us in incredible and unexpected ways; you might say His provision has been like a parting of the proverbial waters as we passed through the unknown and into His vision.
So, on that day in Colorado, on top of a God-carved canyon with a river below, we stacked stones, like the Israelites, as an act of praise and remembrance for the God who made what once seemed impossible, possible.
In the next chapters of the book of Joshua, God lays out the work to do. Their purpose was not to just cross through the Jordan but to fully embrace the land of promise. In a similar way, we see last year as a time of transition and now we are ready to fully step into the work God has called us to. But we cannot do this without your help. Last year around this time, we asked people for one-time gifts that would hopefully give us what we needed to get off the ground. The Lord provided beyond what we expected. Now, we are asking the Lord to provide a group of committed monthly donors that are excited to join us as we empower refugee students in Nashville to grow into their fullest God-given potentials, transforming their families and communities as they flourish. Our fall program starts in 20 days, and we are setting a goal of 20 new monthly donors before we start. Any amount will help, but your steady support gives us the ability to dream bigger, and your commitment inspires us to pursue our vision with boldness and passion. Will you join us in providing holistic, Christ-centered, long-term support for refugee youth in Nashville?
We can't thank everyone enough for all the ways that we have been supported over this last year. Driving buses, tutoring students, providing dinner, praying for us, telling others about UPN, sending notes of encouragement, donating money or snacks or supplies- for anything you have done to contribute to this Kingdom work, THANK YOU. We truly are so grateful. Now on to year 2! In Christ's love and grace,