Sometimes I have this tension before sharing about the deep love of our God, poured out to our world through the ministry of Forgotten Voices. Our ministry is “demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities.” Through serving this mission since we started, I have had incredible opportunities to see churches in Africa modeling so much of what Christians yearn to be part of of here on earth. When I share these stories in churches and in homes in the USA, people often note, “that is what churches should be doing.” People in the audience have written to me later to tell me their marriages have been healed, abuse in their homes has stopped, work/personal priorities have become more balanced, and most importantly, people have entered into a new or deeper relationship with the Lord.
When I get to share what God is doing through local churches in Africa, in part through your gifts to Forgotten Voices, there is no greater joy in ministry. To testify to God’s great love for us – the manifestation of the full gospel – warms my heart. It’s like God saying, “Just share about me and my heart for children, and for them. I’ll take care of Forgotten Voices.”
But what if you don’t give? What if hearts are changed, but the ministry can’t meet its needs? When I’m honest, as the leader of a Christian non-profit ministry, I am sometimes torn. What if people don’t see the clear opportunity we have, amidst the stories of God? You may not have heard, but some people turn off God talk quickly (sometimes even especially cool Christians). What if I don’t clearly ask them for money? Or enough of it? What would happen if I just testified to the work and the opportunity, focusing on the way faith is moving mountains in Africa and the USA, then inviting people to be part of that?
When I focus on sharing God’s love for us, not the work of Forgotten Voices alone, I know that brings God joy. But in churches that I speak in… when I focus on just Forgotten Voices as an extremely effective, scalable response to the orphan care crises, I sometimes feel bad about giving a sales pitch. Pastors have asked to come inspire their congregations, but not directly ask for Forgotten Voices. Is that ok? For me and for them, I think this fear of pitching comes from doubt and not trusting in God to provide for our needs. Sometimes I leave a speaking engagement and wonder why things did not work and why people did not give? Should I have made a more specific ask? Should I have told a more emotionally compelling story? Other times, it was a disaster, but a fruitful night, despite my talk.
This all helps me realize (again – over and over) that the work of orphan care and widow care – the ministry of Forgotten Voices – is part of God’s plan for us. There is one savior and it ain’t me or you. The ministry of Forgotten Voices is not a sales pitch, but an invitation to see and be part of God’s restoration of our still hurting world. James 4:8 says “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” The Bible is full of passages related to orphans and widows. When we draw near to the things of God, He will draw near to us.
Forgotten Voices has a long history of being able to meet the needs when we NEED to meet them, not when we want to meet them. We’ve said no more times than we like, but God continues to be faithful. Pray that we continue to have faith and trust, as we pray for you to do the same.
So, the next time you hear from Forgotten Voices, know that we are discerning carefully what the Lord would have us share for each place that we visit. Remmy, our Africa Director from Zambia, is touring the USA with his wife, Irene (her 1st time here). We are excited for you to meet him, hear about the opportunities, and the ways that people are coming to know our God.
In the end my battle about whether to “share the gospel” or simply talk about the business opportunity for Forgotten Voices is a matter of trust – or lack thereof. Somehow I believe foolishly that my ideas for how to tell the story of Forgotten Voices is sometimes more compelling than sharing what God has for us to learn through His word and its application in our ministry. I doubt that it will compell people enough to give and we need money to do the ministry.
But, as Remmy once told me, “I don’t know what people mean when they say they need to trust God more. I just trust.” Through our ministry and fellowship with leaders like Remmy, I’m learning to trust God more and the power of His work in and through us. He knows the needs of children we serve. It is our joy and privilege to share about those needs AND how God yearns for all of us to be part of this ministry to widows and orphans.
This has been a little window into my soul. My prayer for you today is that in your own work, you see it as a ministry no matter what you do. As you work, may you find joy in doing your jobs well, while also looking and praying without ceasing for opportunities to share (directly or indirectly) about the love of our God with all you meet.
-Ryan Keith, President
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