Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Prayerful Action is Contagious

I just got off the phone with a woman that inspired me to write an entry. With my job, I have the opportunity to meet all kinds of people, all over the country. People call about Africa often and I think it's perhaps one of the coolest parts of my "job".

Today, a young woman called to talk about Zimbabwe. She had heard the Bishop of Zimbabwe, Rev. Danisa Ndlovu, give a state of Zimbabwe address as part of his duties for the Mennonite World Conference. Without knowing much about Zim, she began exploring more about the tragic situation unfolding before the hidden eyes of the world.

The more she learned, the more she prayed that God would direct her path. She is now helping mobilize people of prayer around the country and helping share the message of hope here in the USA and in Zimbabwe... letting people know that prayer matters to God.

Our God calls us to prayerful action again and again in the Bible, sometimes (oftne perhaps) asking us to do things by faith that seem to make NO SENSE to our little minds. But time and time again, our God provides for those that take prayerful actions. From Moses and his staff to Daniel in the Lion's Den to David & Goliath to Job to Samson and on and on.... Countless stories really.

What's my point? Zimbabwe is falling apart. The US government can't do much and the governments of African nations won't do much either. But the church can act in a way that others can't.

I've spent the last 3 years of my life telling the story and trying to act. But too many times, I have tried to act without prayer or to pray without action. My phone conversation today reminded me that all of our actions as an organization need to be prayerful actions. It's contagious! How can you prayerfully act to assist the country of Zimbabwe, your neighbor, enemy or stranger that crosses your path in today's errands? I look forward to learning along side of you...learning together about just how contagious prayerful action can be to our world and to us as people.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another boring paper? Help an orphan and learn stuff. We can help!

Forgotten Voices is proud to announce a new project: The Research Voice. Essentially, we are posting challenging questions faced by Forgotten Voices and our partners. We have divided them into research areas so students can quickly identify a potential topic that they can use for a research paper that they need to complete.

They simply submit their well thought out research, we consider it, and look for ways to use the material to further our mission.

It's an awesome way for students to contribute in a meaningful way, learn about the world, and take a potentially meaningless topic and transform it into a life enhancing tool for Forgotten Voices.

Check it out at: Student Research Ideas

So... where did this come from? Here's the background for interested parties.

Over the last 3 years, I've talked with a lot of high school and college students. I keep thinking about my message to students.... orphan care is complicated and we don't just need people with big hearts, but we need people who are wrestling with the different layers of the challenges. We need healthy heads and hearts. My message was we need you to stay in school to help us address the very real challenges occurring right now in southern Africa.

Over and over, students kept telling me that in addition to money, they would love to find a way to plug in to our work in Africa without feeling like they need to drop out of school. As I searched around the non-profit industry, I kept coming back to this idea I had of using research time that students have to address real issues our partners are facing in Africa, as well as questions our volunteers have in the USA.

We have teamed with our partners in Africa to identify critical questions that they are facing in various interests of study. Our list will grow, but for now, we have 9 categories. We hope have 15 by the end of September. Check it out at

So - our partners in Africa and our amazing intern, Paul, have identified challenges that need work. The questions are pretty deep and may be used by students to fulfill classroom assignments they are given.

As a former student, I know what it's like to have an assignment without a meaningful topic that I could relate to in real life. This tool can help. Students can select a question, research a response, help themselves, and help us fulfill our mission of empowering orphans.

There is no guarantee the papers will be acted on, but all will be read and considered here and in Africa. I'm building a research team to look through all submitted papers.

We are really excited about sharing this new opportunity and I wanted to specifically invite you all to participate in this initial trial run. Just a suggestion if you find a fit in one of your classes.

If you have ideas/suggestions/questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. I can't find anyone else doing something like this and I hope this pans out for the students, our partners, and Forgotten Voices. At the very least, it will be a good attempt to bridge the gap that exists between the ideas of study and the practical results of our work. I see more and more that we need students to engage in the challenges of this world...not just complain about them and certainly not just drop out of school to help without understanding.

I do hope you all are well!

All the best,
Ryan Keith
President, Forgotten Voices International

Note from Ryan Keith
Forgotten Voices: Empowering Orphans
717.506.0633 |

Local People. Local Projects.
Find out how you can use your voice at

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Now...and the Later

Zimbabwe is in the news lately, but for all the wrong reasons. What was a tragic situation when we first arrived in 2004 has transformed into the world's worst economy and a future that is seemingly bleak.

Every time I receive an article from someone, it is always bad. And I see that. I understand that. But I wanted to take a moment and write that some things are good in Zimbabwe.

Now, there is a man named Horace living in the western parts of Bulawayo. Today, he is busy organizing an orphan retreat for 50 kids. They are going to go away for a few days and learn how to cope with the now and the later in life: Grief counseling, managing money, working a field, cleaning water, etc. Life skills that many of us here in the states never really experience, including managing money.

And here is the kicker. Horace is in his 20s. Limited education, but a willing heart. He doesn't have the luxury to sit around and think about what to do with all these kids until later. He needs to respond NOW! Forgotten Voices is helping him get these orphans to camp, but he's the one acting NOW.

There are so many stories to share. But I just spoke with Horace on the phone in Zim, so I thought I'd share the Now story of the day.

As for later? We'd love to help many more. Your support is allowing us to find leaders like Horace and partner with them for local projects, run by local people. Thanks for doing what you are doing. Right NOW, your gifts are giving life and hope for orphans...for the now...and the later.

Finally, I'm headed up to our wedding site. As you can imagine, I'm pretty pumped about it! Marrying Katie will be the greatest and most amazing aspect of my life...ever (now or later). :) I'm leaving in a couple hours. But I couldn't leave without telling you that you have all forever changed my life. As I began one of my last days as a single man (we get married Saturday), I kept thinking of all the people that have helped make me the man I am today and have been patient with me, amidst the many flaws I have.

You all are investing in our dream at Forgotten Voices: to empower orphans in Africa. You need to know that you are also fueling my life's ambition: to empower people here and there. For now and later. I have committed my life to equipping churches in the USA and in the world to help the vulnerable. God has called me to this life and I'm thankful for each of you for helping make this life a reality for Katie & I.

Keep up the good work! The world needs you and I do and later.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

What I learned from a kid recently

Recently, I was speaking at a church in Pennsylvania. They had asked that I talk about Forgotten Voices to 60 kids, from the ages of 5-10. Gotta be honest with you. Out of all the groups I have the chance to talk with, this age group is my FAVORITE!

They are always so willing to learn, engaging, trusting, and fun! Plus, they always ask hilarious questions. As we watched a presentation about orphans in Africa, the kids were locked into the show. We pretended to fly into Zimbabwe, fly even lower into the Matopo Mountains, and then bike up a hill before finally walking a LONG way to a small boy's village.

As they kids met Peterson on the screen, they all stood and yelled an Ndebele greeting that i just taught them with no regard to the fact that Peterson couldn't ACTUALLY hear them or see them. It didn't matter to them. They were engaged.

Over 5 minutes, I introduced them to Peterson's life. How he lives by himself. How he cares for the animals and takes care of the fields. How he has to get himself up in the morning and walk 2 miles to school. How he needs to cheer himself up when he has a bad day or someone makes fun of him. And the crazy thing is? they got it. No, they really got it. Unlike any other group, kids just get it. They didn't ask questions that were only being asked to avoid dealing with the heart of the situation...orphans caring for themselves at way too young of an age.

As my time with these children came to a close, I was humbly touched by 1 small boy, age 8. I was in the middle of describing how they can help millions of kids just like Peterson: Pray, Share, Give. Before I finished the Give part, a young boy came right up to the stage in front of everyone and said, "I have 2 quarters. Could you make sure that this gets to the kids in Zimbabwe?"

In that moment, I was floored. "Faith like a child" took on a whole new meaning for me in that moment. I'm thankful for kids and the lessons they can teach us. And I'm thankful for the thousands of lives that will be touched in the USA and Africa as I have the chance to tell that story over and over.

-Ryan (writing from Pennsylvania)