On this page, you can read about the people behind Urban Harvest Ministries.
Dr. Tom Grassano
Dr. Tom Grassano is the founder and director of UHM. He was raised in Detroit and South Carolina, but has roots in New York City where his father was born and grandparents immigrated. He came to the South Bronx for the first time in 1992 while leading a short-term mission team with the missions agency he directed, and then returned in 1994 with his wife Lidia and their four-year-old daughter to begin Urban Harvest Ministries by faith.
Dr. Grassano is educated in music and is an accomplished performer, composer and conductor. He became involved in ministry while in college and eventually left the career to serve the Lord in ministry. His ministry has taken him to 41 states and 23 nations leading in outreach and empowering leaders toward the Great Commission.
Lidia Grassano was raised in South and Central America where her parents served as missionaries and church planters. Her experiences on the mission field, especially as a teenager in war-torn Guatemala, shaped her passion for reaching the lost and hurting with integrity, relevance, and compassion. Tom and Lidia met at a missions conference in 1982 and were married in August of 1983.
Tom and Lidia’s call is to reach the hidden lost in cities and empower the people of the church to fulfill the Great Commission in urban centers around the world. They are also engaged in student leadership development to raise up a generation to radically transform their world.
Tom and Lidia have two children, Angel and Tommy, both very involved in this active and powerful ministry to cities.
Angel Grassano, daughter of Dr. Tom & Lidia Grassano, was four years old when her family moved to New York to establish Urban Harvest Ministries in the South Bronx. Her parents taught her that “God has no grandchildren, only children” meaning that it had to be her personal decision to serve Jesus. She made that decision at a young age and grew up very involved at the Harvest Center, participating in the programs and serving in various capacities. Angel completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education in 2012 and felt called to serve full-time with Urban Harvest Ministries. She completed her Master’s Degree in Education three years later.
Under the mentorship of her parents and the UHM Board, Angel founded the IGNITE Ministry for young adults in 2010. Her desire is to see teenagers and young adults serve God with integrity, making choices that honor God and sharing His hope with others.
Angel is the Assistant Director of Urban Harvest Ministries serving with Hope for the City, The Harvest Center, and other ministries of UHM.
The Board of Directors of Urban Harvest Ministries is a body of spiritual cover and supervision for the ministry. The Board consists of dedicated Christians whose lives demonstrate moral and spiritual integrity and who are committed to the vision and mission of UHM. We are honored to have a unified Board who loves God, who has compassion for the suffering, and who desires to see the Great Commission effectively fulfilled where God has led Urban Harvest Ministries.
Tom Wieland has been married to Carol for 41 years. Tom and Carol raised two children who have given them five wonderful grandchildren. Tom holds advanced degrees in school psychology, mental health counseling, and educational administration. Most of Tom’s career has been devoted to supporting children and families in public and Christian K-12 schools, and Christian and public mental health clinics. It has been Tom’s privilege to serve on the Urban Harvest Ministries Board of Directors for more than 20 years.
After a ten year professional hockey career, Dwayne Zinger found himself in Greenville, South Carolina, coaching hockey for the AA minor league affiliate for the New York Rangers in 2012-2013. This is where he first met Dr. Tom Grassano and his family and learned of their work through UHM. Dr. Grassano and Dwayne quickly became friends through their love for hockey and seeing the love of Jesus transform people’s lives. Dwayne stated that “Dr. Grassano and his family have an infectious and authentic love for people unlike anything I have ever seen, and it saturates everything they do.” Dwayne has served on the UHM Board of Directors for over six years. About his time serving with UHM, he says, “I am humbled to be a part of what they do through the work of UHM in New York, Detroit, and throughout the world. I have seen first-hand the devastated communities that UHM has been called to reach and the Grassano’s have faithfully and obediently followed God’s calling to serve and love where not many would dare to go.”
Dr. Michael R. Richardson, also known as “Big Rev”, is a native of Lake Wales, Florida. He has been ministering for over 40 years. During this time, he has fulfilled numerous positions in serving His Lord including four pastorates and serving as an evangelist. He has served as the Fareast Evangelist covering the areas of Korea, Guam, Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines. He has also served as International Evangelist in Europe covering Germany, England, Italy, and Belguim. He is an ordained bishop in the Church of God currently operating in the ministry of an International Evangelist.
Rev. Richardson is married to the former Beatrix Schmitt of Karlburg, Germany. They have one daughter and one son, Manuela and Michael Jr. They also have one granddaughter, Genevieve. The Richardson family currently resides in Winter Haven, Florida, where he also serves at the Village Church of God as a volunteer staff minister.
Rev. Richardson met the Grassano Family in 2014 and joined them in summer outreach in Detroit. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors since 2018. His prayer has been and always will be, “Lord, anoint me to make a significant difference.”
Dr. Vance L. Freeman has been a minister in the Church of God for 43 years. He served as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army for 22 years and is currently a professor of New Testament Studies and Psychology at Holmes Bible College. Dr. Freeman has served on the Board of Directors since 2018.
Pastor Les Woodard has served in a variety of roles in the local church for over 25 years with his wife, Tressa. Together they have three children who all are involved in ministry. Les has served as Youth Pastor, Worship & Arts Pastor, Associate Pastor, and currently serves as the Lead Pastor of the Rincon Church of God outside Savannah, GA. An ordained Bishop in the Church of God, Les and Tressa met at Lee University while obtaining a degree in Music Education. The Woodard’s have a passion to see people experience a life-long relationship with Jesus. Through Christ-centered worship and practical, creative, Bible-centric teaching, the Woodard’s are making an impact in their community through their “Love Your City” vision.
While serving as Youth Pastors in the early 2000’s, they led two mission trips to the Bronx to work alongside UHM. There they saw firsthand the dynamic and effective ministry of the Grassano’s and their team. They believe that UHM has developed unique and practical strategies to reach people who are far from God and be the light of Jesus in the darkest of places. “We are honored to be part of what God is doing through UHM. We never cease to be amazed at the way God works in and through this ministry.”
THE EXIL FAMILY
Pastor Lesly presently serves as Lead Pastor of Harvest Church, located in Bronx, New York. He is a graduate of the Church of God Ministerial Internship Program; he has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a Minor in Psychology and an Associate’s Degree in Mental Health. He has been influenced by and connected with Urban Harvest Ministries over the past sixteen years. Pastor Lesly has also traveled and served in short-term missions in other countries, speaking at rallies and crusades, and conducting leadership development.
Pastor Lesly is married to Mikael Exil, a woman of great faith and love. Him and his wife have been married for over two decades and parenting three young men: Nathaniel, Mikael, and Matthew.
Pastor Lesly and his wife love the Lord, love to serve others, and yearns for lost souls be saved.
Maurice Salley, Director of Evangelism
“Some of the things I learned through Urban Harvest Ministries at The Harvest Center were how to be a man of God, what it means to be a leader, and the significant value of serving in the kingdom of God. I also learned what it really means to love God and others, to turn away from sin, and to live holy honoring God. These are qualities I did not have before coming to Harvest. The Harvest Center was a place of safety and spiritual nourishment for me. Most of all, Harvest was a place where I was loved. You can learn lots of things but if you’re not loved, those things have no significant value or meaning. The love of Christ that was given to me at Harvest changed my life forever. John 13:34-35 says, ‘So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.'” -Maurice Salley
Alexandra & Andre Black, Youth Ministry Leaders
“Harvest Church was an expression of God’s love to me that continues to pour out in and through His people. Harvest does small things with great love! I simply love my Harvest family! It’s a beautiful thing to witness God’s people respond to His love through this ministry. UHM is God’s heart and hands extended into our communities making eternal provision for the souls of each family, delivering hope and shining light into all the dark places. I am eternally grateful for God’s vision through UHM and the many who have gone before us to pave the way. I am blessed to serve in ministry with leadership that truly understands God’s heart for His people.” – Alexandra Black
“Harvest Church is a beacon of light and hope in our community. It is a place I have grown in my relationship with God. It is a place that I love. One of the things I enjoy most is God allowing me to bless others as He has blessed me through Harvest. Whether it is through street outreach or pouring into the youth, Harvest builds me up so that I am able to build others up. This extends to the outreach in Detroit that I have participated in. God is working through UHM! It is amazing to witness and be a part of.” -Andre Black
Shamirelys Figueroa, Children’s Ministry Leader
“How can I put into words something so special! Through UHM, God saved me and my family! The people at the Harvest Center have become my family! Our community needs to experience the love and support that Harvest brings and I pray that we can reach out to all those that truly need the Lord. As the Lord wants it, we want all His children to be saved! ‘For this is how God loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. I thank God for UHM and the Harvest Center!” -Shamirelys Figueroa