Vision and Values
UrbanLife is an organization dedicated to loving and serving middle school, high school, and college students in San Diego.
Our vision is for every student to be transformed into world changing leaders in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods. The reality is, many obstacles stand in the way of that vision including drug and alcohol abuse, gang activity, apathy in school, family issues, violence, and the list goes on. We desire to help students overcome life’s challenges, so they may discover and reach their God-given potential.
Our potential and ability to change the world begins with finding a relationship with our Creator through Jesus Christ. Each and every student deserves the chance to hear about a relationship with God in a safe environment, where their decision doesn’t change how much they are loved and cared for. UrbanLife is committed to providing that environment, that message, and opportunities to respond.
Through weekly programs, special events, overnight trips, tutoring, mentoring, leadership development, and simply “hanging out”, we are committed to building an authentic community of meaningful relationships that are transforming students to positively affect and serve others, their community, and the world.
We hope and pray that you will join us in this adventure. We look forward to meeting you soon!
Jake was born and raised in Olympia, Washington. He went to Western Washington University, in Bellingham, Washington and received a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies. While there, he met Joan and they married shortly after graduation and moved to San Diego, where Jake served as Area Director for YoungLife in Point Loma. During his time on staff with Young Life Jake attended Fuller Seminary. He received his Master of Divinity degree, and was ordained as a Reverend in the Presbyterian Church USA in 2008. Jake was hired at La Jolla Presbyterian Church as the Youth and Children’s Pastor and began to invest in students at Mission Bay High School. While there, he noticed that many students at Mission Bay were bussed in from City Heights and started Sunhouse Urban (the urban branch of La Jolla Pres’ youth ministry). As Sunhouse Urban grew, Jake and several students formed a church in City Heights for students and people living in that neighborhood. Since then, Jake and Joan have moved into the neighborhood, and Jake is now the Executive Director of UrbanLife, as well as Founder/head coach for the Diego Hills basketball Academy, and father of three children, Addison, Samuel and Kimo.
Romin was born and raised in San Diego as an only child. He went to UCSD and it was there that his life was changed by God. It was in college that he learned what it really meant to serve God and the people around him. Through a friend, Romin was pulled into the world of UrbanLife since its inception. He started as a volunteer and grew to love being with students and a few months after graduating college decided to become part-time staff. He since has become full-time and has now grown into leading and pioneering the middle school side of UrbanLife; he also leads worship at the UrbanLife service. Romin is recently married to the love of his life, Naomi.
Kathy Pham / High School Director, City Heights West
Kathy loves her hometown of Little Saigon in Orange County; she grew up there with an older brother, divorced parents and a HUGE, loving extended family. While attending CSULB, she was in leadership on campus and church, worked in the education/tutoring arena then was a Target Executive Intern. After graduation, she was a Target executive for a couple of years. Eventually, she became burnt out in ministry and unchallenged/bored at work… she was not living the life God had for her. After some time of being bummed, sweet time traveling in Asia, eating and driving across America, reading amazing books, helpful conversations with wise friends, really seeking God and experiencing His grace and freedom, she responded to God’s call to go on missions which landed her in City Heights as Summer Staff with World Impact, then working with Harbor Church and now UrbanLife. What began with just giving a Summer away is now her living her calling: to love students and to help students know and love Jesus! Sidebar: if you know a God-fearing, single man, you should introduce him to Kathy.
Chris Brewster / City Heights West Area Director
Chris was born in Arizona and met his wife Anastasia as high school teammates on the cross-country and track team in suburbs of Phoenix. They married in 2000, after Chris graduated from Azusa Pacific with a B.A. in Sociology in 1999. He and Anastasia felt called back to Phoenix, where he began working for Neighborhood Ministries and discovered his love for leadership development. In 2006 Chris and Anastasia decided to move to the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego to work with Harbor Church. Since moving here Chris has been coaching the Cross Country and Track teams at Hoover High. In 2008, he completed his Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Bakke Graduate University. His relationship with UrbanLife Ministries was formed through a personal relationship with Jake Medcalf centering on shared values and vision. Chris joined the UrbanLife staff in Spring of 2011, where he is helping to coordinate the college ministry, and is currently working with a team preparing to form a second UrbanLife site of students and young adults primarily from Hoover High School. He and Anastasia have two children, Madeline Grace Brewster, born in 2006, and Tobias Scott Brewster, born in 2008.
Sarah was born and raised in Southern California (LA and Escondido). In high school God revealed his heart for the city and his concern to undo wrongs of the world and reconcile ALL people and ALL things to Himself. She attended college at Cal State LA hoping to find a community to join Gods work in the city. After 6 years of working in group homes for adolescent aged moms she moved to Philadelphia to study Counseling at Westminster Theological Seminary. In 2010, she returned to San Diego and moved into City Heights to be part of Harbor Church. She is falling in love with its people, and excellent Pho and Mexican food, and quick access to the Pacific. At the end of the New Heights Project in the summer of 2011, Sarah finally found herself at home, loving what God was doing through the UrbanLife community and the young people of City Heights. It was an answer to an unspoken desire, when she was invited to join UrbanLife. Sarah’s greatest joy is listening to the stories of young folk, looking together at the Great Story and finding ourselves in it; recipients of the great love of a great God who is inviting us into his great mission. You will likely find Sarah running, taking advantage of any opportunity to be in the great outdoors, eating good food with good friends, and spending time with her sister, brother in law and 2 beautiful nieces who live in Oceanside.
Justin Phillips / City Heights East Area Director
Justin and his wife Melissa moved to City Heights in 2000, upon graduation from PLNU, poised to contribute to the long-term renewal of the city. Justin started by teaching English, coaching basketball, and coordinating AVID at Hoover High School. For two years, he trained and mentored pre-service teachers throughout San Diego Unified School District. After returning to graduate school to study Exercise Science, Justin spent the last three years at Cuyamaca Community College, teaching adjunct and coaching Men’s Basketball. Desiring to re-engage the youth of this neighborhood particularly, Justin stepped into the role of High School Program Director for UrbanLife in 2012. Justin and Melissa live in City Heights with three of their four children: Atsede (8), Amare (5) and Matias (2). Their oldest Ricardo (23), recently graduated from college. Melissa teaches at Ibarra Elementary School in City Heights and co-leads San Diego Refugee Tutoring.
Sarah came to San Diego to go to college at UCSD, where God transformed her life through the community of people in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IV). Sarah came on staff with InterVarsity and served there for 10 years, working with nine college campuses in San Diego and watching God transform college students into amazing leaders. It was through IV that Sarah met her husband, BJ, rode a camel around the pyramids, and developed a passion for seeing communities transformed by the power of Christ. Sarah went back to school while on staff with IV to get her MBA through Bakke Graduate University, specifically to figure out how business can bring transformation to our cities and neighborhoods through jobs, small businesses, and entrepreneurship. She is excited to use this training to develop UrbanLife Business, and create job opportunities for urban youth and families. Sarah and her husband are committed to seeing transformation through the local church, and are helping plant churches both in San Diego through UrbanLife, and with a team of missionaries working in SouthEast Asia. Sarah and BJ live on an urban farm in Southeastern San Diego with another family, where they raise goats, chickens, cats, dogs, and various other living things.
The BoardStan Beard
John has served on the San Diego Building Industry Association Board of Directors (BIA) and has served as President of the BIA Cares for Kids board of directors and numerous other BIA boards. He also serves on numerous charitable boards and is actively involved with many worthy causes such as The Alliance Defense Fund, Urban Life, Hope Leadership Foundation and Pro Kids Golf Academy & Learning Center.
John, his wife (Gwen) and their two daughters, Carly and Katrina, reside in Rancho Santa Fe. He enjoys photography, baseball and especially his family.