Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It will also be difficult. After concluding the calls, I'll pick up my wife and drive to see her family in Pennsylvania. We'll celebrate Thanksgiving there, with mountains of food and good cheer. We will give thanks for the food, family, and fellowship. We will also give thanks for our friends in Zimbabwe and Zambia. While some are suffering, we will give thanks for the opportunity God has provided our family to get intimately involved in the suffering of others...to see pain in ways that not even movies can portray...and to see and experience real joy in the midst of sorrow.
My dear friend, Peterson, is a 12 year old boy in Zimbabwe. Earlier this year, he went to live with his grandparents after spending over a year living by himself. This holiday, as I do every holiday, I think of him. By God's provision, Forgotten Voices has helped provide medical, food, and education support for Peterson and his family. While there is certainly more to be done for my little friend, there are MILLIONS of people fighting to stay alive and asking...calling out... praying for God to send them a champion... someone who will say, "I GIVE THANKS FOR YOU, MY BROTHER AND SISTER. I SEE YOU. I HEAR YOU. I WILL DO WHAT I CAN."
I have another friend connected to the band Dispatch, who is actively helping raise awareness about Zimbabwe. He likes to say, "we are not asking you to feed the world, but we are asking you to feed one friend." I join him in that call. In partnership with Dispatch Foundation and its partners, Forgotten Voices is working to help feed people in need across the country of Zimbabwe this holiday season and beyond. It won't be easy. There are lots of questions about how it will be done in the midst of the crises, but we are saying YES.
In this spirit, I ask you to check out 2 videos today. Pray about how you can help make the difference for someone this Thanksgiving... in Zimbabwe, Zambia, your neighborhood, or some other ministry that you, your family, or your church and community may support locally or overseas.
How many people can we feed? from Join Forgotten Voices & Dispatch Foundation
I am so deeply thankful for all who have joined us in using their voice since we started this effort. I am forever grateful for your gifts, sacrifice, and trust.
I pledge, as does the team I am honored to lead, our best efforts to equip local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of AIDS orphans in their communities. Through these acts, we (our team and you) are demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ. That, my friends, is something to be thankful for. The privilege and opportunity to share the love of Jesus with those in need. For your efforts, I give thanks.
To make a gift to Forgotten Voices, visit http://ForgottenVoices.org.
May God grant you peace, joy, and a warm spirit of Thanksgiving this holiday season.
All the best,
Ryan & the Forgotten Voices Team
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I wanted to pass along 2 links for you to check out...
First, a woman and her husband in the midwest recently wrote about the crises in Zimbabwe. they both have become great advocates of the American church responding to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as simply assisting our fellow human beings in their hour of need.
as you are able, i encourage you to read this story by visiting this blog post called Feast or Famine?
Second, a woman named Janet that I used to work with before starting Forgotten Voices has a local ministry that puts on worship services and raises awareness about international issues. They are now promoting Forgotten Voices on their website. Check it out here.
Many of you are choosing to use your voices to help tell our story of trying to empower forgotten voices in southern Africa. THANK YOU. Please let us know when you put stuff like this out there, so we can share it with others.
Blessings to all of you as you continue championing causes for Christ and serving those in need.
Please take a look at this story and listen to the piece, as you have the time.
Please continue to pray with me for those suffering in Zimbabwe.
All the best,
Monday, November 24, 2008
1) Cholera crises. Cholera is defined as "an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of contaminated water or food." With the range of economic and health problems hitting Zimbabwe, a chlorera outbreak was bound to happen. So far, an estimated 300 people have died from this infection. Hospitals do not have much at all, if they are open at all.
We are working with 1 rural hospital in southern Zimbabwe to help meet some of the health needs. We also recently helped with the construction of a new well to provide clean water for drinking/farming to a semi-rural community. We praise GOD that all of the funds needed were raised by a church in New York. AWESOME!
However, we are being asked to do more to respond to these health needs. Our projects now reach over 140 churches in Zimbabwe and all of them are being impacted by these latest health crises and economic challenges. Please be praying for the people of Zimbabwe, our partners at the hospital, and the people completing the construction of the well during these difficult times. To make a gift to Forgotten Voices to support our local church projectsl, please DONATE HERE.
2) Food Crises: We are taking 2 approaches.
- Long-term: Farming God's Way partnership that is helping over 100 local farmers plant crops that will yield 300% over traditional farming. We are actively raising money to help these efforts. Please contact Jesse Schwamb at JSchwamb@ForgottenVoices.org or make a general gift online here.
- Short-term: In addition to providing support for long-term solutions that will take months to build farms reaping food, Forgotten Voices is working with a local church and community group in southwest Zimbabwe in a rural community to provide emergency food relief to orphans and vulnerable children, as well as their caregivers (around 650 of them). The project, which was developed and is run by local Zimbabweans, also extends its reach to help some handicapped individuals (around 50). The project provides a meal a day for these 700 people, 7 days a week, over a 20 day period at a cost of $1500.
I encourage you all to TELL a friend about Forgotten Voices and our efforts to help local people, leading local projects to meet the physical & spiritual needs of AIDS orphans in their communities. To give to this effort and other food efforts, make a general gift to Forgotten Voices at www.ForgottenVoices.org.
-Ryan and the Forgotten Voices Team
Saturday, November 22, 2008
We are facing a major crises of chlorea outbreak and food malnutrition in Zimbabwe.
I am working daily with people in Zim to deliver aid to those in need on the ground, using our increasingly wide network of local churches. When I get back to a computer (prob Monday), I'll send out info on specifics.
For now - please consider going to http://www.ForgottenVoices.org and making a gift today. As Annan and Carter are not allowed in, as well as many other NGOs working in the area, we have a unique opportunity to do what we can to help the cause of assisting Zimbabweans caring for orphans.
May God bless you richly as you respond to the needs of the weak.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Tonight, I took advantage of NT being in the area and went to a lecture of his on Reconstructing Hope and why we should do anything at all, which explored what Hope means for Christians in these unstable times. It was a related, but different message from Sunday's. Tomorrow (Wed) and Thursday, both at 7pm - Longfellow Hall - Harvard Graduate School of Education, he'll be taking questions from people about Jesus and how he (NT) views Jesus' role in reconstructing hope for our world.
If you live in the Boston area, I highly recommend you coming out. More info here.
Reconstructing Hope: The Search for Sustainable Good
with N.T. Wright, Anglican Bishop of Durham and the man Newsweek calls the world's leading New Testament Scholar.
Tuesday, 11/18, 7 pm:
Why Do Good in a Hopeless World?
Wednesday, 11/19, 7 pm:
What is Good in a World that Defies Hope?
Thursday, 11/20, 7 pm:
Doing Good: What Plus Hope Equals Change?
All lectures in Longfellow Hall at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
If you've ever wondered what Christianity is all about or why people follow Jesus, then this event is for you! Come explore the tougher and challenging questions to Christianity with N.T. Wright as he begins a series on Hope in today's world.
Download the poster Invite friends on Facebook.
As for Forgotten Voices info, I'll write a bunch tomorrow. I have much to update on, good and difficult.
Friends - Today, I had the good fortune of spending my afternoon with Elias Mudzuri, a member of the Zimbabwean Parliament, who also serves as the Organizing Secretary of the MDC and is a graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School, where I am attending now. Elias was also the former Mayor of Harare. It was a fascinating discussion about the future of Zimbabwe and how he sees the next few months playing out. He referenced an old Shona saying that is loosely translated, "Some Monday, surely it will happen."
This struck me as the embodiment of my experiences with Zimbabweans. The endless faith that surely the the good is just around the corner. Surely, despite the challenges, the end is near.
Every day when I wake up, I try to remember the challenges my friends have faced while I slept and look at each day as an opportunity to help alleviate some of those challenges, if I am able. Every day, we each have the gift to improve the state of our world, in whatever cause we strive for and act toward.
At Forgotten Voices, we approach each day with the realization that 500 people will die because of AIDS and 1,000 new children will become orphaned in Zimbabwe, with slightly less in Zambia. The challenges are surely great, but some Monday, surely change -- change will happen. Surely, the rains will come a bit more, the crops will grow, and children will find their way back to school. Surely, some day, moms and dads will no longer be worrying about fighting for their lives due to lack of food, or fighting off sores from AIDS that make their lives miserable. Surely, some day we will rise again with a new day when all of us will stand, united by the belief that we have worked hard, loved deeply, and helped vulnerable children and their families realize that today will indeed be better than yesterday.
Sure - I'm an optimist. Sure - I may be TOO idealistic. But dreams come true eventually, as my hero Martin Luther King, Jr or Ms Peaco have taught me. They take sweat, tears, hard work, and love.
Today, whether you are helping work for our story at Forgotten Voices or you happen to cross paths with another adventure like ours for a different cause, I dare you to dream about this idea that "Some Monday, surely it will happen." Surely, "Some Monday, sure life for millions of children in southern Africa will be better. I, for one, cannot wait for Tuesday to come so I can keep working for next Monday's dream to become reality. Who knows? Anyone ready to join me in finding out?
Make someone's day today. You all, everyday, help make mine by believing in our mission and investing in our dreams. Thanks!
Much love from Boston,
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
PLEASE consider making a gift, of any amount, to support these efforts. We just launched a new round of food support that will feed 700 people for 3 weeks at a cost of about $1,500 USD. However, we need to raise the money for this to keep going.
You can learn about the food crises here, through an article on the BBC.
To make a gift, visit www.ForgottenVoices.org.
-Ryan and the Leadership Team
Sunday, November 9, 2008
When I think about my own "race" to lead Forgotten Voices, I see a lot of similarities. I often run so fast and for so long that I forget the importance of refueling.
This week, I traveled from Boston to Pennsylvania to spend time with our Leadership Team. We had a Board of Directors meeting on Friday afternoon and a fun night on Friday night. Then, last night 2 buddies of mine got together to work on stuff for Forgotten Voices, but did it really casually - a good mix of fun and some work. This weekend was a REAL energy boost to hang out with folks. Sometimes, in the race, we forget to take time to just enjoy each others company.
For all I got to see - thanks. For all I didn't - I hope to see you soon. I'm packing up and driving back to Boston - 7 hours.
Lots of love from Central PA,
Friday, November 7, 2008
Look for a blog entry this week about a new food programme in Zimbabwe, a new orphan care project in Bulawayo, a well project, etc. And thanks to Remmy for posting news from Zambia. Isn't he a great writer????
OK - a couple of things on the election...check this out... you'll like it.
First, I'm reminding you all to keep praying for Zimbabwe and Zambia. Both countries are facing on-going issues related to their elections. PLEASE remember to pray for people there, especially our partners and the orphans these churches serve. THANKS!
A forum on the BBC website is gathering feedback on what countries in Africa can learn, if anything, from the US election. As I always say, there is much we can learn from them, but this may be worth checking out if you are interested in the dialogue.
Second, Harvard has been a crazy, (wicked - in a good, Boston way) inspiring place to be during this election. Experts in and out, every week. Sharing their insights. Inspiring. In the past couple weeks, I've talked with Michael Dukakis, Brent Scowcroft, and Fred Thompson, as well as a CNN political commentator. I've listened to lots of other experts, as well. It's been unreal. Check out this interesting article on the connections between Harvard and our new President-elect. My advisor, Samantha Power, may be part of the new administration. Pretty rad.
Third, Some of you may remember my post about my dear friend, Ms. Peaco, as well as some posts I've made about Martin Luther Kng, Jr. I've been actively following, reading, and soaking up information on the Civl Rights Movement since I was in the 2nd grade. My parents say I became interested in politics when I was introduced to Martin Luther King, which then birthed my interest in addressing the injustices of people.
So - as a student of politics and someone intimate interests in the elections of Zimbabwe and Zambia, I am fascinated by how incredible our system works. How we can go from George Bush to Barack Obama in just 4 years, when it takes decades (or more) to shift from a President to another President in some countries.
After reading LOTS of hurtful, vicious, untrue, and angry emails from people in the USA, from all parties, ...most of them simply forwards... I was kinda bewildered by how short-sighted we are as a country. And how unthankful we are to have a system that allows us to go from Clinton to Bush to Obama without violence against each other or from our governments.
I am concerned that the whole church in the USA forgets to love one another, just as Christ loved us and the churches in Zimbabwe & Zambia love their neighbors in this hour of need. At the end of the day - regardless of your party affiliation - we are must believe in the transforming power of the gospel. That's why Forgotten Voices works through the church in Zimbabwe and Zambia. To help transform communities in and through the love of Jesus Christ.
Here, is a brief letter I wrote on my blackberry on my ride to school one morning to my family in response to a family discussion we were having on the election.
As a student of politics, I have a special interest in early presidential speeches. This speech by Obama was one of the best, yet brief, articulations of what's next. It was a proud moment for me, as it was for many Americans. To now know that America can turn the page of bigotry that has plagued our nation to a new chapter that reads with hope for every citizen, regardless of color, makes this a historic day. Beyond race, Barack, I hope, will also usher in a return to statesmanship and cooperation with our allies around the world... And more effectively lead our country. It was... As you say....a great speech.
There are many things I disagree with Barack on, but there are many that He, Jesus Christ and I agree on. Social justice, defense/support of the worst off & of in our country, and love of people (a deep love) that transcends your political affiliation, sexual orientation, color, ethnic background, income level, or religion.
While I did not share some of his beliefs on abortion and other social & economic social issues, my hope for our country rests in the transcending power of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Church (big C - the church of red states, blue, purple, greek, chinese,etc). Yesterday, I voted for a President and not a Pastor. I hope and pray that Christians respond in a way Christ would giggle with glee... To love our neighbors, pray for our President, and pray for our nation's children. There is much to be done. We will all be needed. But, overall, regardless of who one voted for yesterday, today is a day we can all be proud of for today... We have a President that everyone in America can look up to as the embodiment of what is good in America... The American dream is for everyone - for real.
My friends in Zimbabwe and Zambia are amazed at the true openness America has for democracy and transformative ideas. Yesterday, like 2000 and 2004 and all elections prior, offer evidence they are correct. No bloodshed, no burnt homes for voting for the wrong candidate, no beatings like happened to someone I know in Zim because they voted for the wrong one. Instead, we have an open-ended conversation that celebrates what is truly great about our country. As I was in 2000, 2004, and today... I am truly proud to be an American.
Love you. :) I am excited to be doing my part, even (perhaps especially) as a Republican. :)
Note from Ryan Keith
Use Your Voice - Help us help kids that need a champion!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Meet the Chiwasas
I know that as am writing this blog, America is voting! This great country is the focus of the whole world for whatever happens in the USA has influence on the world's affairs. It's like the whole world is also voting! My prayers are with the American people as they exercise their rights during this election. God bless America!
Meet the Chiwasas: PastorAmon Chiwasa will be graduating from TCCA this coming December and has up until recently been geared to go back to his home town of Lusaka where he hoped to be called by any of the ECZ churches that would be willing to support him in his ministry. He is married to Precious and together they have two children; Gift (8) and Marjorie (3). However, his ministry with Twapia Evangelical Church from the time he was attached to the church as a student pastor has made members to call for his services as their permanent church pastor. He has reluctantly accepted the offer as he knows the poverty levels of his parishioners may entail difficulties in his children’s education, late alone their own survival as a family. The church has never supported a full time pastor since the times of the missionary who built it.
Twapia Evangelical Church is situated in a densely populated part of Ndola. Poverty is evident in the surrounding communities. The roads leading to the church have never received a facelift for quite a long time. It was difficulty to drive through to the church as the road was impassable. I can’t imagine how worse it becomes during the muddy rain reason. However, Pastor Chiwasa assured me that vehicles do reach. The place is more or less like the one Ryan, Kate and I visited when they came to Ndola last June.
I was however impressed with the way most people glowed with life and seemed contented. I was reminded of Paul’s words to the Philippians in chapter 4: 12 “I know what it is to be in need…I have learnt the secret of being content…whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want”
I visited the church on the 28th of August to familiarize myself with their projects. The church is built on a relatively big plot of land. It was built in the early 1980s, but due to its location, it has never managed to support a full time pastor, and hence there has never been any tangible ministry development, especially ministry to the underprivileged members of the church and the surrounding community.
By God’s grace, during the three years Pastor Chiwasa has been attached to this church, there has been a remarkable change in many areas of the church’s ministry. He has laboured to preach and teach his congregation the Word of God to be the word of truth and life for the people. Their giving, in poverty, has improved and their commitment to church programs has also improved. His coming has indeed breathed a new lease of life in the church’s ministry to its members and the community around. The membership has seen a steady growth from 96 to about 180. This has allowed the pastor to build a working team of elders that help in the smooth running of church programs.
The church plot is blessed with a number of hills that can be harnessed into blocks that are burnt and sold to raise funds. This has become a source of sustainable income that helps send their orphans to school and other church programs. But these hills will one day be nomore. This is why they are now busy trying to build something that will sustain their ministry to widows and orphans. They are currently molding blocks for an ablution block and a pre school thatwill sustain the church ministries for a long time to come.
They are also digging a well that will not only serve the church with water, but the surrounding community also, who up until its finished travel quite some distance to fetch water. Members that have skills in carpentry and bricklaying within the church have volunteered to make more benches and build a pastor’s office for the church. In fact, the pastor’s office was almost completed at the time of my visit.
The ministry of Forgotten Voices International in partnership with local churches in their local projects has brought relief to the church’s ministry and their surrounding communities in Zambia. Your support to this ministry is doingwonders in the lives of many children orphaned mainly by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These kids can now walk with their heads raised up again as they walk back to school with a hope for the future; a future that was almost lost forever! God bless you!
Pastor Chiwasa outlines the following prayer requests as he struggled to accept taking up pastoral work with this church against a rather unappealing scenario:
Pray for provisions as he prepares to serve the church with a very little or no salary. The church has never had a pastor on a salary and this will be a big change for them.
Pray for his children’s financial support in their education.
Pray for security as he will live in a house without a toilet inside and water has to be fetched some distance from the house.
Pray for continued maturity of members in their Christian lives as this will be the only way their commitment to church programs will continue improving.
Your fellow servant in the Lord.