Jason Vaden is the Pastor for Preaching and Mobilization at Urban Harvest Fellowship, a TCTN network church. He is taking Urban Harvest through a sermon series called “Casting a Vision for the Glory of God at UHF.” I asked him to write about the vision and boast in the Lord about what He is doing in North Little Rock.
Casting Vision for the Glory of God at UHF
The sermon series, “Casting Vision for the Glory of God at UHF” is an attempt to let the explicitly God-centered texts of Scripture saturate the inner-man of our people, so that: (1) we all begin to see every painful and pleasurable experience in life as a platform God has constructed to display Himself for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ, and (2) we become more convinced than ever that God Himself must create the in-roads for a predominately middle-class, white suburban congregation to touch the hearts and lives of an impoverished urban community that is 70% African-American.
As recently as 6:00pm on Saturday, May the 11th, God created one of those God-sized in-roads. Robert “Snake” Smith, along with the consent of all his siblings and extended family, took his mother off of life-support. Robert personally requested that I, Pastor Jason Vaden, be there among the family in the hospital room for this very painful moment, even though a more well-known, loved and respected, pastor would already be there. I cannot fully explain this. Perhaps, it has something to do with the gospel witness we have enjoyed in his mother-in-law’s living room? Perhaps, it has something to do with the grace UHF has ministered to his children over the past two years? Ultimately, we know the mighty arm of God created this in-road of grace through the usual, but unexpected, pathway our Heavenly Father so often chooses – pain, loss, and grief.
Concurrent with the vertical nature of this sermon series and the suffering of our neighborhood friends, our small groups have also been learning to navigate relational barriers through the lenses of When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert. Together, we are learning not to offer relief when the need of the hour demands rehabilitative and/or developmental grace. We also have a growing awareness of the ways poor urban communities excel us. For instance, they tend to be way more collective and sharing than do our individualistic, white middle-class, suburban folks. Brothers, please pray that UHF would become a community of broken-hearted, grace-filled, truth-loving slaves for King Jesus, holding out the Bread of Life to an impoverished neighborhood, in child-like dependence on the Holy Spirit. Amen.
By Jason Vaden