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."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Urgency, Principles, Patience, and Wisdom

Recently, I had a conversation with myself about how Forgotten Voices should be responding to the growing tragedy in Zimbabwe. I'm frequently encouraged to pull us out and others want us to just dive in, doing all we can. I want you to know I wrestle with that all the time. How to be effective, efficient and wise in the face of chaos.

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." ~James 1:27~

Desperate times call for urgency, principles, patience, and wisdom. With the ever growing tragedy of Zimbabwe, I am often tempted to react quickly. "We must do something" is my inner call. And that call is right. But it also must be balanced with principles, patience and wisdom.

In the midst of the chaotic situation rising in Zimbabwe, I see a need to do something, but also keep to the principles that started our ministry there in the first place.

We work through local people, local projects. While it would be easier and some may say better for us to just go, do stuff, and then come home, working through locals will help build their confidence, increases leadership capacity, and demonstrates the characteristic of steadfastness... one of my deepest desires for our ministry together.

Our God sees and has called us to look after widows, orphans, and those in distress. All of these calls on our lives are so clear throughout the Bible and are personified by the people of Zimbabwe.

We must be wise stewards of our money, choosing carefully what to do with it. This is true for me as a donor, and true of me as the leader of a non-profit. Since we cannot solve all of the challenges our world faces (or even solve any of them completely when we are honest with ourselves), we must carefully select where our resources are most needed, most effectively used, and be wise in how we efficiently use them for the building of hope.

The situation facing our friends in Zimbabwe is difficult. I'm desiring to move quickly to do all we can, but I want you all to know and think about how we move forward. We are committed to working through local people, developing local projects. This belief in our vision will help bring peace for the urgent and wisdom to the lost.

Our God is so patient with us and with our world. Sometimes I wish He wouldn't be though, instead swooping in and solving all of the ills of the world. But, friends, almost everyday something happens in my life where I am glad He is patient and wise.

He is here with us and is asking us to respond with Him. What's our next move?

Monday, September 17, 2007

life with strangers...conversations with new friends

Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. ~Romans 12:13~

I read this verse with my wife tonight after writing the entry below. Earlier, when i first wrote this, I was thinking about lessons I've learned from strangers recently. I love talking to people I don't know. One memorable conversation came to mind. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning from it and thought you all may appreciate it too.
Two weeks ago, my wife and I were in Denver, walking down the the 16th Street Mall, which is a big shopping scene in Denver. About 15 minutes into our walk, we were approached by 2 women. One was about 60 and the other her mother. They asked us how to get to a street, as they were visiting from California and were lost. While we wanted to help, we had just arrived and weren't in a position to help.

Thanking us for at least acknowledging them and not ignoring them, they proceeded to tell us their life story over the next 10 minutes. We heard about diseases they have had, struggles in life, childhood memories, surgeries, stories of lost loved ones, and tales of favorite foods. We heard about fabulous vacations and interesting people they've met on cruises. A life of affluence and pain. Katie and I just listened in amazement at these two women, who were pouring out their hearts to us in record fashion.

After thanking us for our time and patient ears, I really did want to reach out and give them both a hug. Instead, we smiled, shook hands and said our goodbyes. They then went on their way, arm in arm, searching for that unknown street.

In 10 minutes, I thought I knew these two ladies better than I knew some of my friends. They clearly needed to talk or perhaps they needed to be heard.

Since then, I've thought about this conversation a couple times and particularly have thought about it tonight. Sometimes, I think the people around us just want to be heard. Just want to know that they matter.

Sure. These were just two older American women who obviously had experienced a life of affluence, but a lot of pain. They seemed happy but lonely, even though they had each other. They were looking for a street, but also some new friends.

So... since that strange conversation with strangers, I've had a lot of meetings and conversations with people working among the oppressed: slave trading, the plight of the Dalits in India, and abject poverty in Haiti to name a few. Over and over, the leaders of ministries working with the oppressed talked to me about the importance of listening and loving and how invaluable this simple act is in bringing hope and dignity back to people's lives.

Tomorrow, I may not meet those same ladies, who should be back in California if I remember their detailed itinerary right. But, I'll definitely cross paths with people looking for love and a listening ear. I'm increasingly learning that we don't need to go to Africa to love people richly.

Sometimes I find my heart wandering around looking for my friends in Zimbabwe and miss the people right around me. I hunger to be with people that I so willingly pour my heart out to in Africa, but I want to be more open with people all around me. I'm going to work on that. Perhaps you all do too. People rock and our God loves them all.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Cafe Bella Hosts Rosie Thomas to Benefit Zambia

Friends in Boston area - Please check out Cafe Bella under my Top Friends on MySpace or check out This is a group of people from the south shore of Boston in Pembroke, MA. They are throwing coffeehouses regularly to benefit Forgotten Voices.

On Friday, Nov 2., Rosie Thomas will be performing 2 sets at North River Community Church in Pembroke, MA. Mark the date on your calendars. For directions to NRCC, visit them here.

This coffeehouse will be raising money to benefit water needs in Zambia. Forgotten Voices will be giving money to Blood:Water Mission to dig wells for people in Zambia, where Forgotten Voices works.

50% of all proceeds will go to the project. $1 will provide clean water to a person for an entire year!

Invite your friends. Rosie's song is featured in NBC series "Heroes" Season 2 teaser campaign. Keep an eye and ear out for NBC's new teaser commercial for the 2nd season of of their hit series "Heroes". You'll hear Rosie Thomas' wonderful version of "It Don't Matter To The Sun" throughout... You can also view it online at the follow official
"Heroes" website:

Thanks for considering this unique opportunity to hear great music and help provide water and aid to people in need!

-Ryan Keith

PS Special thanks to Cafe Bella, James, and the entire NRCC community for their continued support of Forgotten Voices!

Note from Ryan Keith
Forgotten Voices: Empowering Orphans
717.506.0633 |

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

Monday, September 3, 2007

Thoughts on Productvity and Poverty

Recently, I was asked to speak on poverty. I grew up a Pastors kid on the south shore of Boston. While we weren't rich or even wealthy by my classmates standards, we certainly weren't poor by American standards and certainly not by world standards.

I always struggle to talk about poverty. I've spent the last 3 years, knee deep in poverty issues, and still don't consider myself an expert in any way, even if others are increasingly looking at me as such.

Why? Margin.

The average worker in Zimbabwe supports 16 people. Up to this point in my career, I've mostly supported just myself. I recently got married on August 11th, but my wife is financially matching what I bring to our new family.

Productivity, according to the UN, is a huge indicator of individual financial wealth and a nation's health. According to a new report, developing countries in southern Africa produce only 1/12th of what developed countries, like the US, produce. That's a big difference!

Productivity is also a leading indicator of investment potential and the health of education. Without higher productivity numbers, foreign investments in emerging industries are likely to follow more productive people groups. Trailing in productivity also signifies a lack of an educated workforce.

We see that. We don't call ourselves experts at poverty, but we do call ourselves passionate about empowering people. For this reason, Forgotten Voices is helping local people create local projects that are focused on efficient uses of local resources. Educating pastors, lay leaders, and orphans are central components to each of the plans we've helped develop in southern Africa.

For more on productivity in the world, check out a new CNN/Money article. If you are interested in even greater depth, check out this new publication from the UNRISD.