• Jonathan Sheahen

What's on our heart lately...

We want to be honest with you. Over the last few weeks, our hearts have felt conflicted about whether we should be asking for money in light of all the things happening in the world right now. Right as we were launching our 20 in 20 monthly giving campaign, the horrible events in Afghanistan started to unfold. As we watched people that were desperate to escape, people that were heartbroken about losing 20 years of work to gain rights and freedoms that should have been there in the first place, people that were hopeless, afraid, angry, defeated, we felt heartbroken and angry right alongside them. Honestly, we’ve struggled to post about happy things happening within our organization when so many people are in grave danger. We’ve struggled to ask people for money when the needs in Afghanistan are so urgent and great. And it’s not just in Afghanistan. It seems as if there is conflict everywhere you look.

But the Lord has been reminding us of something. What is happening in Afghanistan and in so many corners of the globe will keep happening. Wars will continue. Persecution will continue. Violence against children and women will continue. Evil will continue. People- grandparents, husbands, wives, children, sisters, brothers- will continue to be forcibly displaced throughout the world. This story is as old as humanity. As heartbreaking as this is to consider, we believe this is the reality of our broken world. The reality is that every refugee has lived through war, persecution, or violence, or possibly all three. It is what makes them a refugee. The only thing that will stop this is the reign of King Jesus when He returns.

It’s not a question of when will it all stop, or when will people be at peace, but what will we do when they come to us because peace isn’t possible in the place where they once called home?

The answer is simple. We love. We welcome. We listen. We share the resources we have. We extend grace. We raise a banner of hope, and we point to Jesus. That is what we can do, right here in Nashville, for those individuals who find themselves in a culture, in a city, in a country that they never chose, after fleeing unimaginable circumstances. Whether it’s for the 60,000+ refugees who already call Nashville home, or for the countless number of refugees who are surely still to come.

UPN’s anchor scripture from the beginning is found in Isaiah 62:10-11, "Raise a flag for all the nations to see...tell the people, 'Look, your Savior is coming!'" That’s our mission in a nutshell. Raise up leaders who hold up the banner of Christ high above the city of Nashville and beyond so that all will see the preeminence of the King and grace of the Savior. Every part of our program from academic support to discipleship on the trail to sharing the narrative of God through Scripture points to equipping future flagbearers for Christ. Throughout the Bible we see God using the foreigner that finds themselves in a foreign land to point a nation to Him. This is what we see happening here in Nashville, and what an honor it is for us to be a small part of the story for such a time as this.

We have gotten a lot of questions lately about whether we are serving any Afghan families. While Nashville has a small population of Afghan families here, we expect about 300 or more families to come soon, and we look forward to having the opportunity of welcoming them when they arrive. Until then, we love the ones in front of us. Whether they are from Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Rwanda, or Myanmar, or Sudan, or Eritrea, or Syria, or Kurdistan, or the Democratic Republic of Congo - it doesn’t matter to us. In His sovereignty, God has placed them here, and as followers of Jesus, we have a responsibility to love them well. That’s what He has been reminding us of lately. That's why we're doing what we're doing.

Today, we are wrapping up our 20 in 20 campaign where we had a goal to add 20 new monthly donors. So far, ten of you have joined us this month and committed to consistent, monthly support of the valuable Kingdom work that is happening through UPN. Some of you have given generous single donations during this campaign and we are incredibly grateful for all of the support!! But we need more of you to step up. We need more of you to help us raise a banner of hope for the over 60,000 refugees in our city.

On Monday, we launch our fall after school program where we currently employ 8 StreetLeaders and serve around 35-40 students, representing around 30 families. While we would love to serve more, right now we are at capacity with what our budget allows. In addition to the three schools we are serving currently, we’ve actually been contacted by other schools and organizations that have heard about what we’re doing and want us to expand to other sites in Nashville. With more of you stepping up, we can do this. We can expand our reach, which expands our impact. Will you please join us in raising a banner of hope? We know any impact that we have here will be felt around the world, all for the name of our King Jesus to be made known while we await His return. It’s all for Him.

Thank you for hearing what’s on our heart today. 💜


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