El Salvador: Project RED

Going to into El Salvador we were not sure exactly what ministry we will be doing. Little did we know that this easily became the majority of our teams favorite country. When we’re in El Salvador we worked with a organization called Project RED. 

Recently in El Salvador orphanages were forced to send the orphans back to their original families. The reason these orphans were in orphanages was because their families were not physical or monetarily able to support their children, so then this caused major problems for hundreds of families. So when Project RED saw this problem they came in to help train and support these families. 

Here is a link to their mission: http://www.projectredelsalvador.org/mission.html

While our team was in El Salvador we did a variety of labor projects for the families and the organization. Our team scrapped and painted houses, we built a chicken coop, we helped put together fliers, and just spent time with families. My favorite time in El Salvador was definitely spending time with these families. The kids were so sweet and beautiful. The parents were so confident and joyful with Project RED helping them out. These families put their trust in Christ and it was evident that their joy was from the Lord, because despited their financial situation they were satisfied with everything they had.

Project RED can do what they are doing with more families if they had more support. Check out their ministry, they are doing big things for the Lord. I can promise that this is a ministry that God is using effectively for His glory.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL3ZszGTHIg

Thanks again for keeping up with my blogs this summer and for supporting my ministry around the world this summer. I hope that God blessed you with the stories and situations that I have experienced this summer. God has been so good and faithful and has made Global Journey 2014 a successful trip. God has taught me a lot of things this summer and has changed my heart even more for His glory.

Ryan

 

 

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Slovenia: Ministry

Here I am for the third time in Slovenia. The first time I came to Slovenia was two years ago when I first did this trip through Global Journey, the second time I came was this past fall to surprise Sarah and propose to her, and now as a leader of Global Journey.

Every time I visit Slovenia I get lost in the pure natural beauty of the land of Slovenia. From the beautiful mountains, the deep and long valleys, the rushing rivers, and the huge waterfalls. Everywhere you look is majestic. You can’t help but fall in love with Slovenia’s beauty, but in it’s beauty there is something dark. That darkness is the spirituality of Slovenia. It is a very spirituality dark country. Less than 1% of Slovenia are evangelical christians. The Slovenian people allows nature, science, and tradition be the gods of their land. They are in truly in need of a Savior and a Lord.

This time in Slovenia we got to work with two different missionaries. The first few days we worked with Jay Adcock in the city of Idrija. When we were with Jay we had the opportunity to do praying walking, street evangelism, praying in a Catholic building, hold a “church” service for a handful of believers there, and encourage the few believers in Idrijia. Then the last week we were there we worked with Joe Kelley and his family. This week half of our team walked through some towns to handed out literature to the nearby towns, and the other half rode mountain bikes to further villages to do the same. Then in the evenings of this week we had the opportunity to hangout with Slovenian children and have fellowship with them. We played a lot of games with them and led them through some worship. Then throughout the week of doing all this ministry with Joe’s family we also had the oppourtunity to do rafting and canyoning.

The missionaries we worked with had very unique ministries. Jay has moved to Slovenia a few months ago, but he plans to open and run a Crossfit gym in Slovenia. Joe shares the gospel by leading teams in extreme sports. These unique ministries had me pondering these questions:

What is ministry?
What is evangelism?
What is discipleship?
What is missions?

In our minds I’m sure we all have different but similar views to these questions. This past week in Slovenian I got to experience these things in ways that I have not seen before. Evangelism can look like being a guide for a rafting team and explaining the gospel when a team is in the middle of a river. Discipleship can be helping others in a workout gym and sharing ideas and opinions.

I believe we all have a have a picture of the answers to these questions in our heads, and I also believe we live and move by what we believe about these questions. For example, if I believe discipleship is having a bible study once a week in somebody’s home, then I’m going to limit discipleship to just that. We need stop limiting what God can do through us. Here is my blanket answer for those questions:

Do something with what you have and where you are at for the glory of God.

Paul says in Corinthians, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Uganda

“Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Isaiah 46:8-10

This is the truth that Ugandans know very well. They recognize God as God. They see that He is the Creator of all things, sustainer of the universe, and in control of everything.

Most conversations I had with my fellow Ugandans always had some sayings like this: “Uganda is good, the Lord has provided me with…” or “Jesus has allowed this…” They always recognized who was in control. They recognized Jesus was in control. They understood that they are to live out God’s will, not their own will. They understood that everything is from God and on His timing.

None of these things I have talked about are new to any of us believers, but it is a truth that is hard to follow. God does not only want us to follow Him, but wants to recognize and acknowledge the one whom were following. This eliminates any notion of us being in control of our lives and allows God to do as He wills in our lives.

Glory to God for his perfect provision and providence in our lives that frees us to give up our will and allows us trust and follow His will wholly.

Uganda will always be one of my favorite countries. It’s not because of the beautiful mountains or the amazing fruit, it’s because of the beautiful people that live there. I always go to Uganda to be an encouragement to them, but I always leave being so encouraged by them. I love their love for God.

Our time in Uganda…

During the weekdays in Uganda we do a variety of labor projects for Lulwanda Children’s Home. We painted buildings, dug trenches, and file folders. Over the weekend we hiked a mountain. Then later that day we went to an hotel and swam in a pool and rested a bit. Later that night we babysat for one of the missionary families there and allow the parents to have an evening together. Sunday we went to church and had the opportunity to speak at and lead the Sunday School. Then we had lunch with that same missionary family and got to have a bacon cheeseburger and fries!! Then the rest of the day we hung out and just fellowshipped with the missionary family.

We also got to spend some time with the orphans at Lulwanda and were able to talk and play with them. I got to know a few orphans pretty well. One of the orphans I met was Yousef. He lost both of his parents to HIV/AIDS. He has spent most of his life at Lulwanda. He was a joy to hang out with and it was fun to talk about the World Cup with him.

It’s people like him that encourage me so much. I can not understand how hard it would be to follow Christ after so much devastion of losing both of his parents. How hard it must be to believe that God is a good God after so much pain. Faith like his is so beautiful and encouraging.

I share these stories to encourage you and in hopes to make you fall even more in love with Christ.

Ryan

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
– Hebrews 13:16

India: All Have Fallen Short

India was one of the countries that I was very excited to go to this summer. Two summers ago when I did the whole Global Journey trip for this first time, India was not one of the countries I was looking forward to. Serving and loving orphans sounded like a great thing to do, but not the most exciting for me. But after we left India two years ago you would have had to literally drag me out of that country. I did not want to leave those Indian kids. They were so young, yet they were the most servant hearted and loving people I have ever met. They were incredible, and I fell in love with those children. So, going back to those children was a dream come true. I could not wait to spend that sweet time with those sweet children again.

A couple days before the trip began our team found out that we were not able to go back to the same orphanage, but we were going to go to a different orphanage. I was a little sad about this news because I wanted to see those same kids again. But, this new orphanage also sounded exciting, and a little overwhelming because we were told they’re going to have over 600 kids there!

So, we arrived in India. After we landed, we had lunch at a McDonald’s, and then we were ready for the 13 hour bus ride to the children’s home. When we arrived at the orphanage it was really late and dark so we didn’t see any children that first day. The next day came, and after getting prepared for the day, I went outside to play soccer with some kids. I had a great time playing with them, but something was different. They just were not the same kids that I’ve been looking forward to. They didn’t act the same as the other kids. They were not what I expected.

So during the first half of our time in India I was a little stressed and overwhelmed when spending time with the kids. Most of the boys at this new orphanage spoke little to no English, and it was very discouraging not being able to communicate at all. The boys were also much different than the boys I met the first time I was in India. They were very rough boys. For example, every night we had prayer services in the evenings where some people from our team would do programs for the children. When it was a night that I was not doing the program, it was hard. Throughout the whole program I’m stopping the boys from yelling at each other, from hitting each other, and from picking on each other. This was a non-stop process. It just made me upset, to the point that I did not want to be around these kids.

Looking forward to India I created this expectation, this dream, of how the orphans were going to be and when they did not fufill that expectation, we clashed. Then one of the days in the middle of the week God reminded me of this passage, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” God reminded me that we are all sinners, and we are not be perfect. I expected perfect children.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.” Luke 2:32-34

God showed me what it really meant to love people. To love someone means not to expect something out of people. It means selflessly giving yourself to others.

These orphans are beautiful children and I did not give them a chance from the beginning. But by the end of this week God was helping me to love and to understand God’s love for us.

God is so good and I am just beyond blessed to be apart of His journey.

Ryan

God of the Impossible

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided” Exodus 14:21

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet. ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son…'” Matthew 1:21-23

“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, ‘I am willing,’ he said, ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5:12-13

“As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be ashamed,’ he said ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He had risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” Mark 16:5-6

These are just a few of the hundreds of examples of God doing impossible things on earth. God created the heavens and earth out of nothing, he parted the Red Sea, he allowed a virgin to bear a child, He cleansed people with leprosy, and he defeated death by raising Jesus back to life. God did things that were physically impossible.

Two things need to be true for God to perform the miracles. God needed to be real and He needed to be active. God is real because any false god does not have the power to do such things. God is active because He was very much involved in the lives of His people and earth.

Here is the story to encourage you that God is still the same God from the Bible:

Here in Hong Kong the Global Journey team had the unique opportunity to bring the Living Word to the Chinese people. For the past week we carried God’s word, every day in to China.

One of these days I was stopped by an official and asked to get my luggage and my back pack scanned, which were both full of God’s Word. As I was standing in line I knew that I was in an impossible situation. I knew there was going to be no way for me to be able to cross the border with my luggage and backpack being completely full. Then I thought about God and His faithfulness throughout all of scripture. I thought about Daniel in the lion’s den, I thought about David and Goliath, I thought about how God is actively working for His people. Right then I knew that crossing the border was nothing for God to be able to do. God was going to do only what He can do. So then in that line right before I put my bags on the scanner, I prayed. I prayed that God’s faithfulness would be filled today, and that I would be standing in China carrying my luggage and back pack full of God’s Word.

You guessed it. God is still real and active in this present day. He performed the impossible that day. I was in China with both bags full and with a confident heart knowing that God is still alive.

Bringing God’s word into China is a spiritual battle. It is only by the Lord’s will and power that this mission can be accomplished. I saw the Lord at work in His people during our first leg of the trip.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

2014

I’m at the Chicago O’Hare airport and completely overwhelmed with the goodness of God to entrust with the leadership of Global Journey this summer. God has been beyond faithful through every step of the way. His promises will always be true, and He will never fail you.

Sarah and I had to raise $12,000 to be able to be apart of this trip, and here we are. God is alive and active, and He is still doing only what He can do. I’m amazed by his power and His providence.

Talk to y’all soon in Hong Kong!

In Christ,
Ryan

Nicaragua

“Lord I pray that you would create in me a greater dependence on you.”

I find it crazy, especially in my own walk with Christ, that we forget about our need of God in our daily lives. We all know and understand that we need God for salvation but sometimes it is easy to forget our daily need of God. For example, the Israelites are known for the forgetfulness. All throughout the Old Testament God gives the Israelites to turn back to the Lord their God. In Hosea 13:4-6 the Lord says,

“But I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.”

We love the Lord’s provision and protection in our lives. We understand that God is always with us. But for some reason we, like the Israelites, forget about our need for God. We forget who is really in control of our lives. In Romans 8 Paul says, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit.” As Christians, we need to know and understand we can do nothing outside the power of Christ. Apostle John says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” We can make our faith about what we can bring to the kingdom, when it’s really all about God has done and is doing through us.

This is the lesson that the Lord has put on my heart during my time here in Nicaragua. I noticed that the things I were doing was without the Lord’s guidance or power and all I could think of was how God used me last year in Nicaragua. Last year I had many speaking opportunities and I was freaking out. I did a lot of praying for what the Lord wanted me to say and for the boldness to speak. I believe that is what the Lord desires from us. To trust on His guidance and power.

I have had a great time in Nicaragua and have been truly blessed by this last leg of the trip. The church we stayed at is filled with some of the most selfless people I have ever met. They cooked us great food for all of our meals, they did our laundry, swept the floors multiple times a day for us, and much more. We came to encourage and bless this church, and they even more returned the favor. We also had the opportunities to go to homes around Somoto to pray for the sick families from the church, we were able to lead a few worship services, I had the privledge to speak for one of the services, we went to the poorer side of town and gave the kids snacks and played games with them and also were able to share the gospel with them. We did whatever the church needed us to do. This was a very dear time we had in Nicaragua and is truly something that every Christian should experience.

France

Oh God let us be a generation that seeks!

“I pray for more Bibles, and that people will read them. And that they will know there is one religion, that is Jesus.”

This is one of many unforgettable statements that Trey said in his prayer for Europe. Trey is a nine year old boy living here in St. Paul France. He is the son of the missionary pastor.

The Saturday after our team landed in France, we observed half day of prayer with the St Paul and Nice International Baptist Church. They do a half day of prayer quarterly every year. We spent six hours that morning worshipping God and praying for each continent of the world for the 30 minutes each. The first continent my group prayed for was Asia, and then it was Europe. My group consisted of 4 men over the age of 18 and the two pastor’s sons who were 7 and 9. While we were praying for Asia only us men said the prayers out loud and both of the boys did not say their prayers out loud, because they were scared about praying out loud. Then as our group was praying for Europe Trey said that prayer above and more. It caught me off guard. I did not expect this boy to have such an authentic faith and a heart for the lost. Trey understands who Jesus is and the need for others to know who Jesus is. In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard such a gospel-centered prayer as Trey had. As we were sitting in our circle praying I couldn’t help but cry about how encouraging it was to see this little boys huge faith.

“… Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

The truth is not hard to understand. As shown in my story above about Trey, this nine year old boy understands who Jesus is, and what Jesus desires. He fully understands the Gospel. The problem, especially what I observed in France, is that people don’t want to know or seek the truth. In fact people would rather seek out things to try to disprove the truth than allowing the truth to be true in their lives. During my time here in France I notice that people are very materialistic and to themselves. I would never say that the people are evil, but you do not see people reaching out to each other. People live for themselves and try to live to life to the fullest. They believe that is enough. They believe its okay not to believe in God. They believe the lies from Satan. They believe the lies from this world. They believe in misconceptions. People get so caught up in misconceptions about the life saving truth of Jesus that they will run away from the truth. It’s not that don’t, or can’t, understand the truth of Jesus, it’s that they don’t want to believe because of the misconceptions they accept as truth.

The solution to help people seek the truth is simple in theory and tough in practice. We as Christians need to love, serve, and share the hope of Jesus. Once Christians start looking like a church that is one in heart and mind and truly desire God’s heart, then people will be better able to see and trust that the truth we share to them is real. When people see that we truly care and love them, then they will want to understand what spurs that love. Give people a reason to think and to seek. Show people unconditional love that will cause people to seek.

This is one of the biggest lessons that God has revealed to me during my time in France. It has been a privilege to be able to serve and learn in France this summer. We have had the oppourtunity to do prayer walks in a couple of major cities, make sandwiches and pray and feed the homeless in the town of Nice, set up all the decorations for a VBS dor the church (Yes we made a dragon for their VBS), and also had the honor of blessing and encouragining the missionaries here in France. Thank you everybody for your continue support in prayer for me. Continue to pray for France and that they will be a nation that seeks the truth. Pray for safe travels as our team heads to Nicaragua and pray for the ministry that will be doing there will be fruitful. I love all of you guys and can not wait to be back with you all soon.

Au revoir!

Uganda

The Pearl of Africa

Looking back at Uganda it feels like it has been forever since I was there and it only felt like I was there a couple days. But there was definitely unforgettable stuff at Uganda.

The first was the Ugandan people. These people are so unique compared to any other kind of people I have met. In America, China, and India people are just to themselves but in Uganda everybody talks to everybody. Ugandan’s are a very social people. The way they do church is awesome and beautiful. It’s about a three hour service and half of that is this very energetic worship party. They truly understand how blessed they are to worship their Lord and they worship Him to the fullest! There is alot of clapping, yelling, crying, and very loud singing. Unforgettable. Also while we were at this church I had a chance to teach about 40 kids about the parable of the prodigal son and related to when the son decided that his plans was better than his father’s, he lost everything. When he decided to listen and trust his father for guidance and protection, his father is waiting with arms wide open. And I was then able to relate that with their heavenly Father and that was a really cool experience.

The second was the missionaries. We were in Uganda working with a missionary name Natalie. Natalie is awesome. The reason why she is so awesome is because she is just a normal person. A normal person who has listened and followed God’s calling for her life. For my friends back at home, Natatlie actually reminds me of Tara Cogdell. She has kinda like the same look and same attitude and the same love for the Lord. I just thought it was cool seeing that Natalie is no different than us, she just has been called to live in Uganda. Also it was cool to see that you don’t have to be this well versed preacher to be a missionary, you just have to be willing. Willing to serve the Lord no matter he calls you to.
While staying in Uganda we lived at Natalie’s friend’s house. Her friend’s name was Lexi. Lexi was also another missionary doing other ministry in Uganda. Lexi never imagined working in Uganda. In fact she went to college and got degrees for French history and Islamic studies because she was for sure that is where God called her. To minister to the Muslim women in France. But things happened and just following God’s leading she ended up Uganda. It’s crazy how God works, but his providence is so perfect and intricate that we will never fully understand. But that’s ok, because in all things God is working for our good!

Pray for Uganda. That they will continue to learn and grow in the Lord. You can probably say Uganda is over evangelized. In one city, Jinja, 10 percent of the population is missionaries. The word of God is there, these people now need to be discipled and to grow deeper with Jesus. Continue to pray for this world.

With a breaking heart for the lost,
Ryan

India!!

Hey everybody!!

I am currently in Uganda! This summer has been amazing and nonstop.  It is so awesome to see people who are so deeply in love with Jesus from around the world.

So my time in India started off pretty rough.  While in India our team stayed at an orphanage home.  Our living conditions at the orphanage home we’re really rough.  We slept on air mattresses, we took bucket baths, hand washed our clothes, most of the time we drank hot water, we had no A/C, and the temperature was easily over 100 degrees Fahrenheit the whole time!  The only time we were not sweating is when we took our bucket baths.  So when we went to sleep we were sweating, and when we woke up we were still sweating.  In fact, it was cooler to sleep outside in that 100 degree weather than sleeping inside the orphanage.  Also the first few days in India I had a pretty bad stomach problem where my stomach did not want to have anything in it, which is extremely bad since I’m in this weather and my body does not want to drink water.

In saying all that, that “suffering” we experienced at the orphanage home was nothing compared to hanging out with these orphans.  During my time in India I truly got to see what it looks like to have joy in the Lord.  These orphans are blessed just to have a couple pairs of clothing.  For breakfast, lunch, and dinner these orphans ate with their hands and the food they were eating was certainly not finger food.  During the school year most of these kids don’t even have their own bed.  Also when I say bed, I mean a mattress that is 2 inches thick that is lying on a slate of wood.

Spending time with these children has definitely taught me a lot of things.  The biggest thing that I learned was, having joy and being content in the Lord even when you have nothing.  When having nothing you truly have to lean on God for your strength and comfort.  One of the verses I ran across in my quiet in India was, “But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.  It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.” Hosea 13:4-6.  When Israel got full, with possessions or anything that hinders you from Jesus, they forgot who their savior was, who led them out of Egypt.  And this is what I think is so beautiful about these Indian orphans; they will never be full in anything because all they have is God.  God is their only source of strength, hope, joy, and love.  They love God so dearly.  Every single morning the kids wake up at 5:30 in the morning to pray!  Also to hear about some of the testimonies of these orphans was incredible.  Like this one orphan, after hearing about who Jesus is, went back home and destroyed all of his grandparents’ Hindu statues and pictures.  He was only 5 years old when that happened.

Leaving these orphans was extremely hard.  On the last few days of the trip I started getting pretty close to this one orphan named Saed.  He was the coolest 6 years old in the world!  The only English words I heard him speak was yes, no, and monkeys.  Saed and I would just sit in the tree for an hour and just be monkeys.  I would have full conversations with him and he would not understand a word I was saying.  But honestly, those times in tree will be times I would never forget.  Saed would say “yes” to anything you asked him.  I would ask him where one of his friends was and his response would be “yes”.  It was definitely one of the cutest things to experience.  The only time I heard him say no was when I asked him, “Is there ever a time that God does not love you?”  And he would say no! It was the only time I heard him say no!  Before I asked him that question, I would ask, “Does God love you?” Of course he says yes, but it blew my mind away that he knows that God will never ever stop loving him.  It was almost like that was the only thing he knows, and the best part is that is one of the most important things, if not the only thing, we need to know!  In saying all this about Saed, he reminds me of me.  He likes to cry, just like me… That whole last day we were at the orphanage he was crying in my arms and did everything he could to stay there.  Setting Saed down to get on the bus was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life.  God truly started showing even more what it means to love, and I fell so in love with Saed.  Leaving somebody I love like that was miserable.  But knowing that our great God is watching over and protecting these orphans was so comforting!

Hopefully soon I will be able to get another blog up soon to tell you about my time in Uganda.  I will be heading to Slovenia in 3 more days! I love and miss everybody!