Recently I attended a barbecue that was extraordinary in more ways than one. It was held in celebration of a recent graduate of The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI), James Jeffery. As I looked around, I saw the urban church in action. Jerry and Jacob of Soldiers 4 Christ barbecued enough food to feed an army. Jim of Never Again Ministry opened us in prayer. Manchester Church and the Armory, led by Matthew, ministered to us with some worship.
There are two common threads this diverse group shares: first, they all love the Lord, and second, they are all part of the Urban Church Association (UCA) in Fresno. This unity in diversity is what the UCA is all about. The focus of the Fresno UCA is to gather monthly for prayer, encouragement and sharing resources. We meet for a simple potluck and fellowship. These men and women are wonderful urban Christian leaders who work hard for the Kingdom. Many of them have little or no support from an established church or denomination. Most of these folks work 40-60 hours a week supporting their families and still find time and strength to plant a church and invest in others.
At each gathering, stories of victory and challenge are shared. When a burden is communicated, it is not uncommon for everyone to gather around that person, lay hands on them, and pray fervently for the need. Bonds have been formed over fellowship and sharing the challenges of being on the frontlines of ministry. Carlos Torres, one of the first TUMI graduates in Fresno, has stepped up as one of the leaders of the UCA. He was delivered from a meth addiction that almost destroyed him, which led to a radical transformation in Christ. Carlos leads our meetings and hosts a home church, which consists of a network of family members, their kids and some neighbors and friends. I had the privilege of attending a baptism in their backyard pool—I felt like I was witnessing a modern scene from the book of Acts!
Carlos is just one example of the amazing stories of God at work in the urban leaders who make up our UCA. The ministry of growing the Church in the city is hard work, but the UCA exists to make that work a little lighter as we help each other. It is one way that together we transform our communities!
Have you read the August 2017 Bulletin? Check it out now!