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."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Just talked to friends in Zim

I talked to Fibion in Bulawayo.

Frustrated, underpaid teachers abound across Zimbabwe. Some schools were threatening to make kid pay extra to hire "teachers" as private tutors or face learning nothing in school. Thankfully, the churches we work with intervened, listened to schools needs & parent or caretaker concerns, and made a plan for how to resolve the issues.

Just another great validation of our model - working with and through the local church.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

A video that will change your world

This morning, Ian Campbell, the missions pastor at WSEFC, sent me a video that visually displayed different challenges around the world. I've seen some of the data, but to see it in video form - presented by TED - was fascinating.

It's 20 min long, but even if you watch the first 5, you'll be better off. As a student of public policy, I take issue with some of the ways later studies are presented visually (as the increments are a bit skewed to favor the point), don't be bothered with those details.

Overall - I think this fascinating video will change your perception of the world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hope Chapel Community School

Meet Pastor and Mrs. Fredrick Mumba: Pastor Mumba is married to Faides and together they have five kids, Jed'daya 16, Ishisha 14, Abgail 12, Chikondi 10 and Erishamah one month. They also keep three orphans, making the total number of children to eight.

Pastor Mumba's passion for children is not only seen from the orphans he and his wife have brought in the family. They have an even greater family of kids at their church community school. They have chosen to help children from underprivileged homes by giving them some education before they are swept by the harsh and cruel community surrounding them. Faides and other teachers volunteer in teaching these children and because of this it has been difficulty to keep teachers for long. However, what Faides and pastor Mumba are doing to these children is quite humbling and commendable. They have chosen to say "yes" to giving hope to the kids at no cost.

Fredrick graduated from TCCA in 2000 and since then he chose to minister among these poor people of Mushili Compound in Ndola. In 2001, together with his quite impoverished church members, they believed God and embarked on building a church that would also serve as a community school to serve the surrounding community. Most of the children they serve come from homes that have been affected by the HIV pandemic and are orphans, some of whom are themselves infected and are on treatment. It is also worth to note that a number of them live with their grandparents that are incapable of either educating them or helping them receive medical help when they need it. The church has demonstrated the love of Jesus Christ by taking up these parental responsibility.

The school runs from the first graders to the sixth and has an enrollment of 150 pupils. In order to teach them better, the school provides food for the children as most of them come from homes where they only eat one meal a day. The feeding program has helped in encouraging a positive class attendance. One of the former kids at the school is currently doing her grade 9 at a high school; when I asked her what she longs to become after her studies, she said "a teacher". It was so humbling to see children who might not have seen the inside of a classroom being given a chance to be educated and even dream of becoming "teachers" themselves.

These are the children you give a lifeline when you donate to the ministry of Forgotten Voices. I therefore encourage you to remember orphans in African as you journey through this year. Your help is very much appreciated... you have to see the smiles to appreciate!

Your fellow servant in Christ,


Program Director - Zambia
Forgotten Voices

Because everyone should have a pet lion -- Videos from the trip

We went to visit some friends of mine who run an animal orphanage, full of animals BEHIND cages. I've been there dozens of times. I jumped out of the back of the truck and saw this waiting for me. Apparently, Dante is a pet lion --- that still has some instincts left in the tank. Watch how he watched the 2 yr old baby just behind me. -Ryan

You followed our trip by Twitter. Now you can see some of the video we took. It's not all business. You'll get to see some cute kids, scary animals, sad stories, and fascinating sights. Join the fun.

To learn more about Forgotten Voices, visit us online at

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Videos from the trip - Arrival into Bulawayo, 1st full day

You followed our trip by Twitter. Now you can see some of the video we took. It's not all business. You'll get to see some cute kids, scary animals, sad stories, and fascinating sights. Join the fun.

To learn more about Forgotten Voices, visit us online at

Videos from the trip - Arrival into South Africa

You followed our trip by Twitter. Now you can see some of the video we took. It's not all business. You'll get to see some cute kids, scary animals, sad stories, and fascinating sights. Join the fun.

To learn more about Forgotten Voices, visit us online at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quick update and request for prayer

This past Sunday, I stood before a couple hundred people at West Shore E Free Church over a 5 hour period the day after getting off the plane. There, I promised to write daily accounts of my trip this week. Clearly, this has not happened.

In short, this week has involved a ton more than I imagined it would - including recovery from this rash and almost complete exhaustion. I had high hopes for this week and it hasn't really happened yet. :) So, my apologies.

I did want you to ask for prayer for my continued recovery. I'm starting to get a bit sick and the pace I'm going is not sustainable. My graduate classes resume Monday to start my final semester at Harvard and being ready for that physically & mentally is important.

Thanks in advance for your grace. Words cannot express the joy I feel over what I saw and who I met over the past 2 weeks in Africa. Hopefully this weekend and into next week, after I've rested, I'll be able to take you on more of our journey. For the delay, my apologies.

Thanks for your love, support, and passion for the work of local churches in southern Africa. Without you, our ability to equip them with the resources they need would be far more difficult. Thanks! By God's grace, we go forward.

All the best,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Now back - Daily Updates, Photos & interviews

Friends - What an incredible trip. I'm now back and beginning to recover after 15 days of 18+ hr work days and 32 hrs of travel back to the USA. I'm tired, but alive in so many ways.

Today - I'm quiet and resting, besides 2 brief sharing opportunities at WSEFC in Central PA. Then, spending the afternoon with my new niece in Allentown, PA. Excited to meet this new little one.

Tomorrow - I'll begin posting some pictures, blog thoughts, and interviews. Thanks all for sharing this adventure with us. I'm sad we didn't have internet access hardly at all, but I'm thrilled that I have some great stories to share.

Check out this powerful interview with Nelson, who I blogged about on Thursday from Zambia. Take a min to read the blog post before watching the interview.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meet Nelson, 17 years old


Nelson lives with his mother and brother, Grant, 20 years

Nelson's father passed away in 2002. His name was Banueil.

Out of all the kids I've met in Zambia, there is something unique about the way Nelson loves. I was deeply touched by our time together. Nelson is 17 years old, but thinks he is 13. In the words of his pastor, Pastor Vincent, "he has mental challenges". He struggles to speak and shakes. The condition developed after his father's death in 2002. He was diagnosed at Ndola's UTH Hospital as "having part of the brain having a misfunction."

Due to these challenges, he is unable to go to a school with the kids nearby because the public school system lacks any support for Nelson. In partnership with Forgotten Voices, the Ndeke ECZ church he attends is helping pay some of the costs for Nelson to attend a training program for agriculture, geared for people with some of these challenges. The Zambian government pays the tuition.

He really wants to be in agriculture so he can earn money to support his family. When I asked him what animal he would be for the rest of his life, he said: "I would be a cow because they are involved in farming and I like farming."

When I told him that there would be hundreds of people praying for him after reading his story on Facebook, the blog, twitter, and in churches, he burst into tears --- overwhelmed by the needs before him and thankful for you.

There are so many kids that I've met here already, but my time with Nelson really jumped out at me. I couldn't start the new day without sharing his story. I ask you to pray.

Specifically, Nelson asked us to pray that he stops shaking and that people can understand him when he talks, because he feels rejected and misunderstood.

I have a powerful video interview with Nelson that I'll post when I get back, as the internet is too slow to post it here.

Please do take a moment and pray for him. And join me in praising God for his provision for Nelson, his mother, and Nelson's brother, Grant (age 20).

I just typed up notes for 8 children that I met yesterday. I HOPE to post at least one more before the end of the day here. On a lesser note, please pray for me, as the skin infection I've developed over the past few days is incredibly sore. I'm in a lot of pain all day. I've had it before and the doctors in the states assure me it is not contagious. But I'm in a ton of pain -- about as much pain as I've ever experienced. Please pray.

Thanks for allowing us to do this --- equipping churches to care for children -- precious children like my new friend, Nelson.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A quick word from Ryan

I'm thankful for you. This is such a quick message that I debated even writing it. Today was the kind of day when it really REALLY struck me how thankful I am for all of you --- that make this work happen.

Today, I met 8 unique, precious children who are living and growing because of you. Your gifts have helped each of them and those that care for them to remain hopeful in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation. You all have helped equip our church partners to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities.

In truth, I'm emotionally and physically spent. I know you haven't heard from me directly yet, except by Twitter. Internet has been soooo sporadic. Tomorrow, I hope to post a few stories from our time in Zambia.

A special shout out of thanks to Brian Reilly for faithfully updating this blog, though I am now around to do it. Thanks, Brian! You are helping bring people close to the work our network is allowing to happen, by God's grace.

I really need to sleep. Pray for healing, as I now have a bad skin rash that is incredibly sore. Thanks so much.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zimbabwe – Final Reflection

The last two days of the trip were dedicated to seeing some of the sights of Zimbabwe – the Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls. Both are amazing in beauty and grand scale. It is hard not to fall in love with a place like this. However, what sticks in my mind is the people of Zimbabwe, who endure hardship that we can only begin to imagine with a dignity and courage that is truly humbling.

Being in Zimbabwe reminded me of 2008 when I had the opportunity to hear John Bell of the Iona Community in Scotland speak to a group here in the US. He told the story of a time when he was charged with doing a story in South Africa for the BBC that took him to a small AIDS treatment center. As a part of the early morning routine in this center, they gathered to pray, sing and dance. After the camera crew got the entire experience on film, John spoke to the woman who ran the clinic. He remarked to her that as he watched this joyful experience unfold that everyone was mixed up, and he could not distinguish the patients from the staff. Her response was that this was the result of an intentional plan, remarking that “For the healthy to be whole, they must be touched by the sick.” In an environment that could be described as hopeless, they had found the secret. In order to be whole persons, those who were healthy and were called to serve needed to touch and be touched by the sick.

As I reflect on my time in Zimbabwe, this observation becomes even more profound. Being there was not only about reaching out to help people in their hour of need. That is the essential work of Forgotten Voices and the reason we are called by God to do this important work. But it was also about how my time with the people of Zimbabwe helps me on the journey to become a whole person.

I hope the stories of Forgotten Voices will touch your heart in a special way so that you will join us as a contributor, prayer partner, or volunteer. But I also pray that the experience of being touched will soften your heart and make you a whole person, able to serve others with kindness and compassion. In many ways we are indebted to the less fortunate of this world as God uses them to make us better human beings. “For the healthy to be whole, they must be touched by the sick.”

Steve Proctor

January 8th Update from Zimbabwe

It was an incredible experience to wake up to the sunrise over the top of the ridge, and to hear the sounds of the animals and little villages coming to life. The beauty of this place is breathtaking.

Today was supposed to be an easy day, but turned out to be as busy as most others since I have been here, with meetings with several groups that we are supporting or hope to support in the future. The Christian Leadership Center is a resource primarily for pastors and lay persons of all denominations. It is a critically needed service, but woefully inadequate. The entire library is smaller than the books normally held by a single pastor in the US, and all 11 computers in the center are old and broken beyond repair.

The lunch meeting with the Ebenezer Trust was the most interesting of the day. We met with Peter Cunningham and Lance and Elizabeth Edwards. It is an impressive program that is focused on teaching people farming skills and launching them in their own business as a farmer. It is two years long, and currently serves 44 students, 75% of them are orphans. It would appear to be the capstone in a continuum of service to orphans in rural areas - a transition to self sufficiency. The combination of farming techniques, business and leadership skills, and faith is a powerful combination to change lives and entire communities.

Later in the day I was reminded again that the reality of death is never far away. When visiting James at the Rock church on the way home, we discovered that his wife’s sister had died the previous day and that he had to drive into Bulawayo to pick up the body and perform the funeral. She was 33, about the average life expectancy for a woman in Zimbabwe. Later in conversation with the Bishop’s office of the BIC church we learned that the Bishop was performing a funeral today and another one tomorrow. What was particularly tragic was that during the funeral there was a car accident on the way to the cemetery, and three of the persons attending the funeral were killed. The result was that in a two day period the Bishop had a total of 5 funerals.

Steve Proctor

January 7th Update From Zimbabwe

We stayed at a guest house near the Mtshabesi Hospital last night. This morning I met a young man staying in one of the other rooms. He is attending a school nearby. When I asked about his family, he told me that his family was well, but his mother some problems getting around and had a pronounced limp. When I asked him about the cause, he said that 12 years ago she was going down to the river to get water, and a crocodile emerged from the water and bit her on the leg. The crocodile was large, and would not let go, and she fought back in the water. The attack lasted about 10 minutes in all, and when his father appeared with a knife, they had the presence of mind to shove the knife down the crocodile’s throat, causing the reptile to release her. Her injuries put her in the hospital for 8 months, but she recovered. I told him that it was a remarkable story, unlike anything I have ever heard. He simply said, “My telling of the story is nothing. You should hear my Mother tell it. She has a powerful testimony, and it is the reason I am a Christian now.”

We visited a family with a daughter severely affected by AIDS. Her legs were weak, and had been contracted. After getting some intensive physical therapy she could now straighten out her legs, but spent most of her day stretched out under a tree. She would be completely immobile except for the walker that was provided by FVI. Her sisters were also in school because of school fees paid by FVI. Again the family was held together by the grandparents. The grandmother seemed very old, and the contrast between her weathered appearance and the 2 year old child on her lap was a reminder of the harsh life these people face, and the toll it exacts on the human body.

The roads we travel to our visits are a real adventure. I am used to bad roads in Honduras, but these are the worst I have ever traveled, sometimes resembling cow paths. Traveling to the Shuma Shamba Lodge involved over 2 hours of a bone jarring ride that left us rather weary. The difficulty of the trip was worth it. The lodge is set in a very picturesque place. Just sitting and watching the nighttime sky is beyond description, with more stars in the sky than I have ever seen, even on the clearest winter night in the US. The term awesome is frequently used in conversation, but the term truly applies here.

Steve Proctor

Jan 6th Update from Zimbabwe

Today we visited Peterson, the little boy whose story has been featured on the FVI website before, and the inspiration for much of the work of Forgotten Voices. His story is a sad one, with the challenges of losing a mother and a sister to AIDS, and being left to live on his own as an orphan with the ravages of the dreaded disease. It is a wonder that he is still alive, and without the support of Forgotten Voices providing medicine and intervening to have him placed with relatives, he would have died several years ago. He is still very frail, and will eventually die of AIDS. In the meantime, he has been granted a life that has its share of joys and childhood playfulness. As a person who likes to fix things, his eventual fate is distressing to me. Seeing him relate to Ryan today is a reminder that providing help even in cases where death casts a dark shadow is work worth doing.

The tour of Mtshabezi hospital was very interesting but less exciting than expected. The hospital census was very low, partially due to the holiday, but mostly due to the fact that they have been without power for the past 3 weeks. It is impossible to imagine running a hospital without a reliable power source, but this is Africa. They have emergency power generators for critical areas, like surgery, but not for the whole hospital. I was surprised by the prevalence of TB, with special holding area for new patients until their TB status is determined. FVI is a significant supporter of the hospital and its outreach program to orphans affected by AIDS.

We also had an opportunity to visit Neatness, who is featured in a video on the FVI web site. While I have seen the video clip many times, she is even more bright and articulate than I expected. She is living with her grandparents who are in their 80’s, a rare occurrence in my observation. Both of them are very engaging individuals. One can see that part of the legacy that they have passed down to her is the gift of a positive spirit. The faith that serves as her source of hope is so real and vibrant that just being around her is uplifting to me. Her hopefulness and optimism in the face of huge barriers is a lesson for all of us who find that the little things of life seem to get us down.

Steve Proctor

Jan 5th Update From Zimbabwe

Today was marked by a visit to 4 homes focused on orphan care, three run by Jenny, a woman from England. Jenny is one of the Forgotten Voices partners in Zimbabwe. Each home was in a wonderful neighborhood, housing 10 children. The homes were clean, with plenty of interior and outside space, all provided in a great neighborhood. The children were incredibly energetic, jumping all over us, laughing and hugging our legs. It was great fun. The other facility was one that worked with Jenny, and specialized in rescuing infants and young children abandoned on the street or on the hospital doorstep. This home was much more heavily staffed with nurses and social workers, and was a temporary place where children are stabilized and adopted out or placed in foster care. Those who cannot be placed go to one of Jenny’s facilities, that she calls a “home for life”. The first impression is that these children are luckier than those we have visited yesterday, living in a safe, secure, and loving environment. However, we were reminded that in a society where family is all important and the key to marriage and acceptance in the community, these children will struggle all their lives for not having a family to call their own. Some wounds are more visible than others.

The most sobering moments of the day were spent visiting cemetery number 6, one of the smallest in the Bulawayo area. I wanted to visit a grave yard after I had read an article that cited casket making as one of the few healthy business in Zimbabwe. The number of fresh graves was overwhelming, with the dates on the headstones a reminder of the young age of people taken by AIDS. The headstone that hit me the hardest had an inscription taken from the book of Ecclesiastes. What struck me was the way the verse was paraphrased.

“Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.”

In light of the suffering that these people endure on a daily basis, this was a remarkable expression of faith. I am humbled and ashamed of the shallowness of my own faith in the presence of these remarkable people.

Steve Proctor

Jan 4th Update from Zimbabwe

The burden carried by the church here is unbelievable. In both of the churches I have visited so far between 25 and 35% of the congregation is comprised of orphans – children in desperate straits.

Today we spent most of the day visiting families who were being supported by Forgotten Voices. I am not exactly a novice when it comes to seeing poverty and foreign mission, spending over 6 weeks in Honduras over the past several years. Even with this prior experience, the visits were hard emotionally. Each of the 5 stories were similar, with some variations. All had felt the impact of AIDS, losing a parent, son or daughter.

These are people of great composure and dignity, especially given the circumstances they are facing. Occasionally the despair and grief punches through and they are overwhelmed. There were several moments that will stick in my mind forever. One was with the first visit, where a mother her two sons were living in s 10x10 space. During the visit the son we were supporting in school spoke of his father’s death - tears welling up in his eyes. The mother seemed to be like all mom’s I have known - just hoping that her children would have a better chance in life.

The most difficult moment in the day was on another visit when Ryan asked one of the young boys being cared for by his aging grandmother what he liked about living there. He got very quiet and tearful. After about a minute of silence he said quietly, “I have no where else to go”. I found it hard to keep from weeping and hugging this precious child of God, clinging to his grandmother as the last person who wanted him or would provide for his needs. No 10 year old child should be reduced to such an edge of despair. Having a soft spot for older people my favorite photo so far is of his aged grandmother. It appears that for many of these vulnerable children, a grandparent is the last line of defense and the only stability they have in life.

I was also struck by the fact that no white person has visited these homes before. One of the grandmothers remarked, “We have seen you on TV and now you are here!”

-Steve Proctor

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Forgotten Voices Update - Bulawayo, Hwange National Park, & Victoria Falls

Still without any electricity to communicate with us themselves, I wanted to post a quick update about the team's agenda for the past few days to give you an idea of what they've been up to.

January 8th - Morning drive to Bulawayo to visit the Christian Leadership Resource Centre; Lunch with the Mennonite Central Committee; Dinner with Bishop Ndlovu, Bishop of the BIC Church in Zimbabwe & President of Mennonite World Conference.

January 9th - Meet with Dennis Paul, drive to Hwange National Park, stay at Hwange Main Camp.

January 10th - Drive to Victoria Falls and stay at Boma.

On deck: Check in with microfinance projects at Ndola.

Check back for more updates from the team as they make it back on the grid!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jan 7th Zimbabwe Update

Another quick update about the team's current travels in Zimbabwe for those following along:

The agenda for today was just as packed as yesterday and included visitation with numerous HIV/AIDS patients in their homes until about midday, then a trip to Matopos to check in with Matopos Primary and Farming God's Way.

If you're not familiar Farming God's Way, the organization is a partner of Forgotten Voices that facilitates about 700 farms which employ over 7,000 local people. Farming God's way continues to make a tremendous impact in the communities it serves, bringing together people of different tribes to work peacefully together and provide food for their families. Through innovative farming techniques and sharing of the gospel of Christ, Farming God's way is increasing crop yields and changing lives.

Thanks for following the team's journey thus far, stay tuned for more updates and reports from the team as they become able to connect to the internet and share with us.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Zimbabwe Trip Update:

In case you're not aware, Ryan and a team from Forgotten Voices are now on the ground in Zimbabwe, making a 15 day journey to bolster relationships with partnering organizations, meet with local leaders, encourage friends, and bring hope to children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. The itinerary for the trip is packed with activity, you can see all the details in an older post. In the absence of a means for the team to communicate electronically, I wanted to give you an update on their present work.

Today the team is visiting with the original partners of Forgotten Voices: BICC Mtshabezi Hospital. The plan is to meet with home-based care volunteers (there are about 800 in all), the clinic staff and nurses, and of course the many patients located there. One of the many special voices at Mtshabezi is Neatness, you can watch her story here.

For more information about Forgotten Voices' ongoing partnership with Mtshabezi Hospital check out the list of project profiles. To give you an idea of the kind of impact your support has on this community, with the help of Forgotten Voices the BICC Mtshabezi Aids Program has been able to provide 2,400 school fees, train 800 home based care workers, and distribute more than 500 home based care kits!

Stay tuned for more details from the team as they continue their journey! If you're on twitter make sure you're following @ForgottenVoices.

God Bless!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Note from Denis

We are now safely in Johannesburg, South Africa awaiting our flight to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. We've met yet another student from Harvard and one from Columbia. I continue to be amazed at the number of people and families who are traveling by air; whether its from JFK or here in Joburg. For us God has provided this incredible means of travel so that we can come alongside fellow "faith travelers" who are attempting to demonstrate God's love in very practical ways in a setting that is overflowing with opportunities to do so. I'm looking forward to meeting again with old friends, people I pray for throughout the week back in the states and for a boat load of "Divine Opportunities" probably disguised as Obstacles. Looking for Heaven's Bright Shore while attempting to walk faithfully on this one. Denis for the Traveling Trio

Friday, January 1, 2010

Day 1c: Purpose of the trip

Well, after a great dinner in our hotel near NYC's JFK airport, we settled in to watch the Florida v. Cincinnati game. What a great way to end a long day!

I think Steve & my dad are pretty pumped!!

The purpose of the trip is 3 fold:
1) Show Steve the history of Forgotten Voices and dream about new ways ahead in Zimbabwe for our ministry.
2) Standardize reporting on projects to put us in a better position to grow long-term
3) Explore microfinance possibilities in Zambia to better put our church partners in a position to lift people out of poverty -- those in their churches caring for kids that are orphaned from AIDS.

Those are the tactical goals, but our over-arching one is the same as our mission: "demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities." To demonstrate Christ's love. That's what we want to do daily!!!

Tune in tomorrow!!! I gotta sleep. My dad and Steve are talking it up. Glad they are getting along. We'll see if that lasts when/if Steve hears my dad snoring. :)


Day 1b: Changes make me smile & cry

Ever stand in a line, thinking you are going to be there all day? You stand in line sooooo long that you ready to be taught patience? You stand so long that you start to enjoy waiting...the expectation of whatever it is that you need to do? That's usually me getting ready for Africa. There are ALWAYS a thousand and one things that happen leading up to the trip's departure that I ALWAYS leave learning tons of things about patience, limitations, and to enjoy the ride!

This trip - my 12th (I think) - it's the opposite. I was kinda bummed. I didn't realize it was going to snow today. Snow meant a threat of delay for our Saturday morning flight to NYC, so we could catch a 10:30am flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. Well, we are now leaving TODAY -- not Saturday so we can make sure to be in NYC on time. So, instead of being on "Africa Time" and learning to wait, things have changed. I'm needing to learn about how to hurry! Leaving in less than 10 hrs now and I have A LOT TO DO!

My wife and I just saw our growing baby for the 1st time this past Wednesday. It's going to be hard to say goodbye a day earlier than planned, let alone say goodbye for 2 weeks! MAN I LOVE MY WIFE!

So, that's the thing about traveling. You learn all kinds of things about dealing with changes. I wonder what God is going to teach me and you on this trip? Almost all of my trips it has been about patience. This trip, the lessons are swirling about dealing with unexpected surprises like leaving a day early. Early + Africa don't often go together. It's one of the MANY things I love about the continent.

So - pray that Steve, my dad and I enjoy the ride! The long roads, breaking down (NO THANKS), no cell reception, etc AND that we seize the sudden surprises --- like changing things around.

God always makes me smile, even when I have to cry and say goodbye a day early to my wife. But, as genuinely sad as I am to leave her and our growing baby yet to be born, I'm absolutely PUMPED about 1) Seeing our church partners, friends and the kids excited for schools to reopen this coming week! and 2) Leaving this FRIGID weather for 88 degree heat! :) SEE YA!!!

Today - as you read this and think and pray about our trip, look around. What changes is God placing in your path that may make you cry, but may lead to smiles? I wonder...

What's our purpose of going? Tune in tomorrow or maybe even later today for a quick break down.


Day 1: The Trip Begins -- Itinerary & Cast

Friends - Another trip is upon us. Here's the quick rundown on the plan and the cast for the latest adventure. We hope you enjoy following with us!



Meet Steve Proctor - Chair, Board of Directors. He's a husband, dad, grandfather, and all around stellar person. He's a rock on our Board, full of compassion and poise, all at the same time. Steve has been one of the greatest mentors to me -- and an incredible friend. He's married to an amazing woman named Rhonda, who is like my 2nd mom now. Just yesterday she was wisely reminding me to make sure to look after her husband and to make sure we don't get sick. (Rhonda - I'll do my best, though I hope I can keep up with these guys!). Steve has never been to Africa before, but has served in Honduras and other places. About 5 years ago, Steve & Rhonda were listening to me talk with their Sunday School class about this crazy dream my friends and I had to support local pastors in Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS. They both contacted me THAT DAY and said, "How can we help?!!?"

Today, Steve is not only the Chair of our Board and Rhonda one of our biggest fans....but more importantly, Steve has helped model to me what it means to love, serve, and lead. I'm absolutely delighted to take Steve with me to Africa and pray that God grants us favor (No sickness, Rhonda!), joy, and the opportunity to see and extend care with the love of Christ. Welcome aboard, Steve!

Q for Steve: Why do you invest in Forgotten Voices?

A from Steve: Those of us who have been given so many blessings bear a special responsibility to reach out to those in need, in this country and around the world. There are very few, if any, places in the world where the need is more pressing or the opportunity to make a difference is greater than where the ministry of Forgotten Voices is working. The voice of God is calling us to serve these precious children to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and to give them a chance to live a better life.

Meet My dad - Denis Keith. What do you say about your dad? Husband to my beautiful mom, Valerie and dad to my 2 sisters and brother in law. Grandfather to 1 child, with 2 grandkids on the way. My dad is the guy I grew up trying to walk like. Talk like. The guy I get all my good jokes from. I love him.

When I was born in Dallas, TX, my dad was using flash cards to study for a Greek exam at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) while in the delivery room. So you can say I've been around him, pastors, and the Christian church MY ENTIRE life. Growing up as a pastor's kid, I literally got a front row seat to the life and walk of a pastor. Today, as I lead Forgotten Voices and we help equip over 160 churches to care for children orphaned by AIDS, I am CONSTANTLY drawing up lessons I learned from simply watching my dad live his life as God called him to live. This will be my dad's 3rd trip to Africa with me, but first to Zambia. Dad - glad you can come. Please don't tell either of my moms (mom & Rhonda - Steve's wife) or my mother in law if I do anything crazy on this trip! :) Thanks! (NOTE - mostly for Rhonda -- those that know me know I don't really do crazy! :))

Then, of course, there's me, their guide. You know me. If you don't, feel free to read more about why I do what I do...and why I'm thankful you all (including Steve & my dad) let me! Thanks for investing in us and making all of this possible. Rock on!

So - here's the skinny on the journey -- does anyone say that anymore? It's late. Let's move on.

Jan 1 - Steve, my dad and I all go to NYC's JFK airport to stay in a hotel nearby. Steve by car from PA, my dad & I by flight from Boston. Pray I get a new printer through customs ALL THE WAY TILL THE LAST DAY OF THE TRIP! It's important!

Jan 2 - 10:30am from JFK to Johannesburg, South Africa. I'll hit you all up with some Tweets and video from the airport.

Jan 3 - Land in South Africa, then up to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. We'll be visiting The Rock Church to see Pastor James, his wife, their new baby, and about 30 kids that we help the church care for.

Jan 4 - Back to the Rock Church, then off to the Free Methodist Church

Jan 5 - Abandoned children's project - which I blogged about here. Then back to Free Methodist Church for an evening prayer service, where my dad will preach.

Jan 6 - Mtshabezi Mission & AIDS Clinic - Off to see Neatness, the star of this video

Jan 7 - Mtshabezi in the AM, then Farming God's Way/Foundations for Farming, Matopos Schools, and stay at Shumba Shaba, the greatest place on earth.

Jan 8 - CLRC, meetings in town, some shopping

Jan 9 - Drive to Hwange National Park to see some animals. Great place to talk about the future and what God has for Forgotten Voices.

Jan 10 - Vic Falls and some work, some meetings, and EATING!

Jan 11 - Steve departs for South Africa, then on to USA; My dad and I go to South Africa, but stay the night.

Jan 12 - Steve arrives home; My dad and I head up to Zambia. Visit projects in Zambia.

Jan 13 - More project visits in Zambia. Pray for meetings today about microfinance.

Jan 14 - More project visits in Zambia.

Jan 15 - My dad and I head to South Africa, then on to the USA

Jan 16 - All home. My dad up to Boston and me to Central PA, where I'll be speaking at WSEFC on Jan 17 if you are around --- will be in 2 sunday school classes at 9 and 10:45.

Enjoy the journey! More later today. Are you following us on Twitter? If not, join today at