“So much to say; so many plans. So much gratitude for you who are God’s instruments to make this ministry possible. Yes, we have faced opposition. Doing this kind of work, it is inevitable … but when we see men formerly on the street growing in Christ, when we buy a hamburger for a man who has been on the street over two years since his wife and mother died whom we met while he was groping through a trash can for food, or when we see the smiles of kids who haven’t had adults play ball with them for a long time if ever, we know that the calling is greater than the crisis, and that His power is greater than every opposing power. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, even here.”
These words appeared in one of the first newsletters I wrote as we began this ministry in the South Bronx in September, 1994. It is hard to believe that it has been over 25 years since we launched Urban Harvest Ministries! In the same newsletter, I wrote these words:
“The Lord has given clear direction regarding the South Bronx. There is so much need. New York Magazine called it the “unredeemable urban wasteland.” Former President Jimmy Carter referred to it as “charred and abandoned.” On his visit, former President Ronald Reagan stated he had “not seen anything like it since the Blitz in London.” A senior narcotics officer described it as “probably the worst precinct in the country.”
This is where God called us. This is where God laid the foundation for Urban Harvest Ministries. This is where He has created miracles.
I had dinner with Sammy. Sammy was one of the drug dealers on the block when we began 25 years ago. Angry, violent, and without direction, Sammy spent more than two decades on the streets. But a different Sammy sat in front of me as we had dinner together. He failed over and over again to hold back tears as he shared about the ways God has changed his life. Working a good job in a doctor’s office, living in a nice apartment, doting on his grandson, Sammy is a changed man, and he can’t stop thanking God for all that He has done in his life!
Sammy texted me after dinner: “Pastor Tom, I’ve always respected you. You ain’t never judged me from the first time we met. I love you, brother.”
I struggle to hold back tears as I write those words. God placed such a deep love in our hearts for these people. He would never let us give up on them. Even now, over 25 years later, we are still seeing the fruit of sowing in these urban harvest fields!
The stated vision when we began in 1994 remains our vision today: We planted the church. We established The Harvest Center. We have been empowering people toward their destinies and reaching the hurting and unreached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ for over 25 years.
What a journey! From the courtyard of the worst projects to a small store-front to a renovated abandoned casket factory, the beacon of the hope, truth and love of Christ continues to shine through the lighthouse called Urban Harvest in this community and others today. Only the Lord could do this! To Him alone be all the glory!