Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Friends - I wanted to share a breath of fresh air with you. I just was on the phone for a bit with a farmer in Malawi, along with his wife. The two of them have been faithfully praying for over 10 years about expanding a ministry they had started in southern Zimbabwe. They had lived on some farm land for a bit, then had to leave when the economy turned bad 7 years ago. Since then they have lived in Malawi, coming back for a few weeks each year to check in on their farmland in Zimbabwe.
It was odd to be sitting in my house talking on the phone to people on the other side of the world. Their lives have been turned upside down over and over. My life, while some may say has been untraditional, is calm compared to theirs.
It is amazing to see how God works. The man and I met 3 years ago on one of my 1st trips to Zimbabwe. Then, he shared with me what God was placing on his heart well before I knew what God was asking of me and what would become Forgotten Voices.
3 years later, we are exploring ways Forgotten Voices can help this couple and local leaders in Zimbabwe live out a dream that they've prayed about for over 10 years. From training in new farming techniques to schools fees for orphans, with natural stages of progression over a few years, this plan is as complete and wholistic as I have seen in my 3 years of ministry in Africa. It is a testament to prayer and faith in God. I pray about things, but this couple YEARNS for God's intervention. To have the faith to stay after it for 10 years, when you've been forced to move all over the southern part of Africa seeking work...that's faith!
Hebrews 11:1 says that "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Today, this farmer, his wife, and I are sure of what we hope for and certain that our Father in heaven is among us smiling as we now learn what he's been stitching together for quite awhile. This potential partnership has God's fingerprints all over it!
As we concluded our call, this farmer said something that continues to resonate in my heart: "With all that is going wrong in Zimbabwe and with all the challenges before us, what better time for the church to serve where others choose not to."
Thank you for all the ways you continue to show faith in Forgotten Voices as we join our brothers and sisters in Christ during these difficult times. Thank you for joining us as we love for most vulnerable in some of the forgotten places on earth.
All the best,
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Friends - sorry for the long delay. Its been a roller coaster week. Things in Zimbabwe continue to decline. Continue to pray for the situation there. Elections are now set for March 29th. Pray for peace, justice, and wisdom for all involved in these upcoming elections. We have watched Kenya struggle and I anticipate some of the same in Zimbabwe, which is already greatly suffering.
Also - pray for me and our team. I've been battling a bit of sickness, as well as just being overwhelmed by all the tasks before our young startup. Forging partnerships are not always as easy as we hope them to be. We are all working hard because you all have allowed us to do so. Thank you!
Pray for a girl named Linda. She just passed her schooling and will be able to continue on to Secondary School. While she is one of millions in this same boat, her story grabs my heart as she lives with a grandmother after losing her parents. I'll try to write more on this later.
Just wanted to check in and thank you all for helping move mountains in Africa. There is much to do, but let's be thankful for God's amazing provisions for us all.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
you about 2008 and the ministry of Forgotten Voices.
This year, we plan to launch several partnerships in Zambia and start
new projects in Zimbabwe. All led by local people, developed in local
communities. We will help local pastors start an HIV/AIDS Orphan Car
Institute in Zambia and another in Zimbabwe. We will help facilitate
training for pastors to learn sustainable farming and, in turn, train
orphans in their churches.
In 2008, we estimate that our partners will send over 3000 children
back to school after failing to pay school fees because a parent
died.. We plan to revise homebased care in rural areas to better
train those on the frontline of orphan care & sustain those
caregivers. In total, we anticipate impacting the lives of over 1,000
homebased care workers like Mrs. Maposa (see Meet the Voices at
In 2008, we are supplying bi-monthly updates on our financial status
to provide innovative transparency and help you know the impact of all
your work. These reports can now be found on the Donor Reports page
under Investors at www.ForgottenVoices.org.
Also in 2008, we plan to launch more interaction tools to bring our
African projects closer to home. Look for their launch later this
spring. These efforts will allow you to blog with our partners, see
pictures taken by them and even post encouraging notes & photos of the
events you host to tell the stories from our partners. All of this
will help solidify our commitment to patnerships AND help encourage
your partners on the ground in Africa. We want them to hear from you,
as well as allow you to hear from them.
The Voices of orphans, those that care for them, and yours are all
important to me and to our team. If you have suggestions for how we
can better connect African projects to USA efforts, drop me a line and
let me know.
Look for more updates and details in the weeks and months ahead.
Thanks for dreaming with us.
Note from Ryan Keith, Forgotten Voices
717.506.0633 | Skype: BulawayoBandit | RKeith@ForgottenVoices.org
Empowering Orphans: Local People, Local Projects.
Find out how you can use your voice at www.ForgottenVoices.org
Monday, January 14, 2008
Yesterday, I had an amazing conversation in a coffeeshop with a guy from National Community Church. Check them out online at theaterchurch.com.
They are really doing some incredible things in the community. Their vision is to meet at movie theaters near Metro stops around the D.C. area. Their main site is Union Station's movie theaters, with Union Station being the most visited place in D.C. every year - over 25 million people.
Anyway - we talked about connecting with young adults, mobilizing new believers around a vision, and tangibly relating to the communities we are part of wherever we live. Sounds heady when I reread it here, but it was VERY practical and all about the idea that ministry doesn't have to be about just programs and doesn't have to be complicated.
As we were talking, I watched a homeless guy come in and sit down in this church run coffeeshop. I wanted to see how this idea of meeting the needs of people, yada yada, actually played out at this church while we were talking about it. Well - countless people came over to this man, talked with him like old friends (because it seemed they actually were), and said goodbye as warmly as they had said hello.
When we were finished w/ our meeting and began proceeding toward lunch, I walked over to the man and said his lunch looked really good and it was making me hungry. He smiled at me and said that he was sorry, with a laugh. We exchanged some warm pleasantries and I departed for my next meeting.
It was fun & refreshing to see hope for the homeless for real - not just a bullet point on a church mission statement. It was obvious that this man felt he belonged and was welcome. Likewise, this man made me (a stranger) feel welcome. It was a rare experience where the church and community actually arrived at the same place and it wasn't a traumatic experience. It was natural.
This got me thinking about our ministry in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The best conversations I've had and the best teaching moments I've experienced are when I got over my class-wars and listened to those that had something to teach me...regardless of their economic state. Sometimes that's required me to check my pride and my arrogance. Sometimes, I've failed to be able to do that and I'm pretty sure I missed out.
My time with this church and my time in D.C. has given me hope that people are knee deep in the things God cares about...and I'm encouraged. Today, look for a way to make someone's day, but do it in a genuine way. Or perhaps, allow someone else to make your day, even if you think they smell.
The homeless man at Ebenezer Coffeehouse made my day yesterday and I can't stop smiling.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I'm spending the day and evening in Manhattan meeting with some friends from Zimbabwe and talking with some folks from our incredible volunteer team.
As I sit in Bryant Park at 42W and the Avenue of Americas watching people ice skate and sip hot chocolate all around me, I am feeling so far away from friends in Africa.
Just had a long conversation with a NYC Police Officer. We talked about laptops, security in the park, entertainment schedule for the year, and he vented about Comp USA closing down their stores. By conversation, I mean I just listened. :) He had passed me 15 minutes ago and looked like he wanted to talk. This time, we talked.
That was a fun reminder of life in Africa. Meeting people along the way and becoming friends. No rushing. Just fellowshipping.
I really just wanted to write and say that I LOVE PEOPLE! I love meeting new people and catching up with old friends. Thanks to all of you for being a friend and sharing the stories our friends in Africa have to share with us.
Today, if you get the chance, make someone's day - by listening or buying a cup of hot chocolate for a stranger in line. My break in Bryant Park reminded me that the world is alive with people looking for a friend. I am thankful to be alive and well in NYC.
All the best,
PS Picture from Bryant Park's website. Check out the fun.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Friends - I just spoke with a dear friend in Zimbabwe. He is overwhelmed by all that is around him. A rash is developing over his body, due to stress. His joints are aching. He has sent his family away for some rest, while he tends to things.
We had a good conversation about prayer. He first asked me to pass along his family's thanks for all the people out there that pray for Zimbabwe.
He then said: "We must remember to stop, listen and pray to God. That will help, as it always does."
Today - in the midst of our busy lives, I call on you to join me in praying for my friend and the millions feeling the same in Zimbabwe.
His situation is common and I'm thankful that you all continue to respond with me in prayer, love, and hope.
As our conversation closed, my friend said tell your friends: "You are doing the greatest thing for us. You pray. God is above all and King of all!"
Today - let's pray and remember that our God is the King of Kings!
May you know rest, peace, and joy today in the knowledge that our God sees and has you in the palm of your hand.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
When we talk about equipping churches to empower AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, we're talking about people like Mrs. Maposa. This grandmother has spent the past 14 years volunteering with the local AIDS Project to give care and support to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS.
Mrs. Maposa is a Home Based Care worker. Her work involves visiting her clients – like the children we profiled earlier in this blog – 3 times a week, attending to their various and changing needs.
She works as part of a team of 6 or 7 other local Home Based Care volunteers, who together cover a large area and provide care for over 40 children and families. Most of these volunteers are women, but slowly their role in the community is gaining greater recognition and respect among men as well. It is sometimes thankless job – caring for the sick and the orphaned. HIV/AIDS still carries a stigma throughout much of the world, and her community is no exception. But she is encouraged by the welcome and support given to her by the AIDS Project staff. She says "they always welcome me at the office and quickly run to get whatever I need for the children and families!"
Mrs. Maposa's frequent visits allow her to be closely attuned to the needs of those she cares for. On any given day she might be fetching water and firewood for them, getting supplies from the AIDS Project clinic, providing emotional and spiritual counseling, praying with them, or bringing a Home Based Care kit of necessary supplies.
Her work places her as a guide and encourager through the most devastating experiences her "clients" face. She encourages people to be tested for HIV if they don't already know their status, and she is often the first to know if a person is HIV positive. Her acts of love, acceptance and friendship even after she learns their status are an incredible gift to those struggling to reconcile themselves to this devastating news. She is also present at the funerals – sometimes two or three each week – where she comforts the children and family left behind, helps to lead the ceremony, shares her own memories about the person who has died and speaks out on behalf of others who are living with HIV/AIDS.
All of this is done as primarily volunteer work, with limited compensation. Mrs. Maposa supports herself financially by making crafts to sell, growing her own garden (when water and seed are available) and raising a few chickens. She lives in a simple but well-kept, one-room home with a table, a small couch, some dishes and a few decorations. etc.
But for this caring woman, it is an honor to continue sacrificing her time and energy to serve others in her community, just as she has for the past 14 years. She has committed her life to lifting up and supporting those in her community who could so easily be forgotten. She gives them a voice when they can no longer speak out for themselves.
At Forgotten Voices, we are committed to equipping local churches to empower orphans in their communities. Thank you for your help in supporting our ministry and the work of leaders like Mrs. Maposa.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Just spoke with Fibion in Zimbabwe. He is one of the Pastors that we partner with in a locally developed, locally led orphan care project. Fibion and his church now help care for over 60 orphans. He shared with me the following update & asked me to pass this along to you:
1) They are getting lots of rain
2) He is using Farming God's Way, a program Forgotten Voices helps support, for his farming needs & the crops are growing! This is providing him an opportunity to show his neighbors.
3) His dog, Fluffy, was hit by a car on Dec 20th and Fluffy is expected home tomorrow after 2 weeks of treatment.
4) He asked that I thank you all for your prayers and support.
5) Pray for water & food for Fibion and his church in these difficult times. The crops are growing, but it will be some time before they are producing food.
Please continue to pray for Fibion, who we featured in the latest eVoice. To learn more about Fibion, visit him under Meet the Voices on our website.
Thanks for all the ways you support our ministry as we support Pastors like Fibion.