Urban Hope was founded in 2015 by Indianapolis born Jonny Ray who developed a passion for at-risk youth through a chain of unique life experiences. Urban Hope was born out of a call to minister to these young souls in a way that changes the trajectory of their life—from one that is impoverished, requiring help and subsistence to one that grows and develops into becoming a light for others. Urban Hope wasn’t created to simply give a child a fish to feed him for a day but to teach him to fish so that he may feed himself and others for a lifetime. Founded on Christ-centered principles and values, Urban Hope is a division of Bread of Life Ministries, a 501(c)(3) organization located in Avon, Indiana. Our desire is to reflect the love of God while sharing His plan for an abundant, successful life. He has empowered us to do great things. His Word says, “We are members of His body.” Christ has commissioned us to become His hands and feet. We have been empowered for the purpose of empowering others.
We believe God wants our youth to have a better life right now. Jesus said, “The thief comes to still, kill and destroy, but I have come so that they may have life and that they may have it to the fullest” (John 10:10). Our children need to know that God wants the best for them. He wants them to have more than the just an average life. He wants them to experience life to the fullest. We know they will begin to do that through a close, personal relationship with Him.
Hundreds of years ago, God spoke through Jeremiah to declare a promise to His children, “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). This hope and this future is extended to us today when we commit ourselves to God and allow Him to lead us as His sons and daughters. The best is yet to come for our at-risk children!
God called the church, specifically, to impart these truths to those less fortunate. What the world calls mentorship, we call discipleship. We make disciples in obedience to the Lord’s “great commission” (Matthew 28:18-20). Caring for those less fortunate allows us to participate in an activity that touches God, himself. Christ said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
A wise man once said, “It is better to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Building strong children is the essence of who we are and what we do.
Born to young parents, Jonny spent his early life in trailer parks, high density housing and a small home that served seven family members on Indy’s eastside. As a young man, Jonny committed his life to Christ. “I’ve made a ton of mistakes,” Jonny says, “but I’m fortunate to serve a merciful God who is always there to listen, forgive and restore.”
His wife, Linda, is an RN and has been the love of his life for over 35 years. “Whatever you think of me alone, you’ll think much better of me when she’s standing by my side. She makes me better in every way conceivable.” Jonny and Linda have served in various ministries throughout their lives and share a passion for breaking the bonds of physical and spiritual poverty by extending the church to the forgotten parts of our community.
Jonny says, “The only difference between me and the precious souls we serve each week is that I was blessed to have people in my life who believed in me. Whatever success I’ve attained didn’t happen through wealth or prestige. It was a loving God working through ordinary people who believed in me in extraordinary ways. They had more faith in me than I had in myself. What an awesome privilege to now do the same for those in our community who need it most.”
Jonny holds bachelor’s degrees in Management and Finance and a Masters in Business Administration. He has served non-profit organizations for over 35 years and managed annual operating budgets in excess of $500 million.