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."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rivers Mounting Speed - Even if they don't crash over edges of rock

Friends - I was just in Victoria Falls yesterday morning. It seems like ages ago. Since then, I boarded a plane with 3 others for Johannesburg, South Africa...said goodbye to Steve & Darren there, then stayed overnight with Matt near the airport.

Steve & Darren are home safe now with family & friends, who are surely pestering my dear friends with inquisitive questions about what happened and what they learned. I hope my jetlagged friends drink lots of water and are able to sleep regularly, without too much trouble. Matt will be home tomorrow. PRaying the same for him.

I'm now safely in Ndola, Zambia, watching the Brazilians destroy the Italians in the Federation Cup in soccer. It's good to be back. So after that crazy adventure over the past 24 hrs, you can see how I think Vic Falls was ages ago.

When Steve & I were at the Falls, he made a profound oberservation that I haven't been able to shake. He said, "Ryan, the crazy thing about the falls is that it demonstrates the power of rivers in general that may not spill over rock in the same way as they do here. They are stronger than we realize...just as strong as what we are seeing now."

He's right. It got me thinking about how one little trickle of information or a contact or a single donation of $1 or a precious conversation with a child at a church in the states has launched Forgotten Voices forward... driving us onward toward fulfilling our mission.

Then, I started thinking about all the ways God has provided for us... and how we sometimes take how God is moving through us and among us for granted... just ignoring the strength of all that He is doing and how we can miss out on seeing the obvious power of God if we aren't looking.

Yesterday afternoon was a GREAT example. Matt & I had an INCREDIBLE 4+ hrs with 4 Zimbabwean pastors who had made the long trip to spend time with us in SA. To listen to them speak was inspiring... humbling... troubling... awesome! It was one of the best days I've ever had since coming to Africa for the first time in 2004.

Why? Well...God is funny. I was thinking of blowing off the meeting. I knew almost nothing about it, was completely exhausted after 10 days of travel, and definitely needing to recharge before beginning a 2nd 10 day trip to Zambia the following day (today). But I figured I would just sit in the hotel room and watch TV about the riots in Iran or end up watching a soccer rerun, which play constantly in a World Cup crazed South Africa.

I went and I'm glad I did. Each of the 4 guys had an incredible story about their own ministries in Zimbabwe and how a conference they went to has enhanced their ministry. They had come to report back to Matt & I, as we know the donors in the states that helped them get to the conference. They came to Joburg to show gratitude and share how God is moving among their ministries, in the face of severe trial.

One is a youth pastor in a rural area way outside Bulawayo. He's praying and working to remove partiality among people in his home area (name not mentioned because he's working in violent/persecuted areas watched closely by the govt). By partiality, I mean that people reject you if you are ndebele and they are Shona, or you voted for this guy or another guy, or you speak one language instead of another. Hearts in his area are bitter and partial against fellow human beings. He is penetrating some of the harsh hearts and gaining ground in peace & person at a time.

Another is a pastor struggling with faith in the Church. He's dedicated his life to helping the church understand reconcilitiation issues, but now he's tired...exchausted by excuses...and angry that people keep coming to his church on Sundays, but failing to LIVE for Christ at all during the week. Cheap Church. You could hear the pain and hope in this pastor's voice, as he yearns for a better way of ministry, but also clinging to God for wisdom for how he should lead those under his care. All the wake of just learning that 2 of his siblings, 16 & 12, were born HIV+. Their parents had died years ago and this pastor was now the care giver for his siblings. Pray that he continues to cling to God.

Another is a children's pastor, helping train hundreds of volunteers and reaching thousands of kids with the gospel...and prompting them to consider life changes. Spiritual formation for kids and grief counseling for children are two HUGE gaps in the life of the Zimbabwean church. This pastor is filling the gap and trying to plug children looking for direction into a caring local church. Pray for the hearts and minds of children that meet this pastor. Who knows the strength of this movement already, as it builds and mounts into future societal transformation for Zimbabwe.

Then a pastor who has dedicated nearly 3 decades of work to help bring peaceful reconciliation between the Shona and ndebele after the government committed mass killings of ndebele in the early 1980s. Listening to the pain and hope gives me confidence that a river of truth and peace is mounting among a hurting people in Zimbabwe. Pray for the hearts of hardened people, who have anger toward tribes that are not their own.

Coming alongside pastors like this and praying for them, as well as discovering ways to inject small gifts of love into their work is much like the power of the Zambezi River, before it reaches the falls. Along the way, small streams gather and the small rain drops come over certain chunks of time in the year... over and over, these small components gather and create a wave of power that is SOOOO strong it creates the largest (widthxheight) waterfall in the world.

But even if we don't see a huge mist emerge that overwhelms our sight and puts us in awe, we can be assured that the movement is still strong. Every little bit helps.

Listening to those pastors made me think of Steve's comments. Reflecting on the privelege you and I have to invest in the work of champions like these guys and others caring for vulnerable kids... WOW! Small injections to big dreams create waves of love that will know no bounds.

I, of one, am anxious to start trying to put small drops into the river, hoping that God will use it for His glory, honor, and praise.

Today, my friends, I'm choosing joy and praying that you all find ways to add your drop to mounting rivers of God's work around the world.

To give to Forgotten Voices, visit and then click Donate.

WOW this is long. I'll write FAR more often, but far more succinct (Maybe) in the week ahead. Have internet here, so look out. :) I have some specific stories from our time in Zim that I'm anxious to share. But it's now time for bed. VERY VERY tired.

As an FYI. I'm surprisingly healthy after 12 days of travel. I'm missing my wife, Katie...and my dad/family. Happy Fathers Day to my dad and father in law. Lots of love to the dads out there,

Thanks for loving your kids. Our team just met a lot of kids that don't have a dad, but we are thankful they have a local church that is caring for them, loving them, and championing on their hopes & dreams...just like my dad has done for me at every step of life. Love you, dad. You are my hero.


1 comment:

Steve said...

Hey Ryan - I'm sorry I couldn't be at that meeting! It sounds incredible. And thanks for the shout out! I was just talking about water, but you took it to another level. That's an excellent metaphor and an inspiring one. Though I'm happy to be home, I miss Zimbabwe (and you, Darren, Matt, and of course Will!) already, especially the warmth and love of everyone we met there and their amazing ability to choose joy, as you said, in the face of crushing difficulty. I am hoping to carry a remnant of these things with me as I return to life as usual. You are in our prayers, my friend. Travel safely! And keep busting us those updates, I'll be following...