Two weeks ago, Simple Free hosted our ‘missionary’ to Uganda, Ryan Youtz, and our Ugandan friend Pastor Abel, who started the ministry that Ryan works for. They both recently came from Uganda, an African country bordering Southern Sudan, Kenya, and former Zaire, among others. Their ministry, which is called Ravens Ministries, is aimed at young Ugandans who are entering into worklife. Some of them did not receive a full education, and so they are in danger of turning to drugs or prostitution because they are unable to support themselves, and in some cases they are without parents.
Ryan came to Simple free looking for church fellowship in 2009, and we quickly came to realize that his heart was for Uganda. We prayed with him for an avenue to get back to Uganda, where he had been for a while shortly before. Through one of our nights when we had my sister Linda come share about her family’s ministry in Kenya where her husband is a doctor, Ryan got connected with some friends whose daughter is working in Mongolia, and through that connection he came to find a mission with which he could raise support to go to Uganda to help pastor Abel.
Ravens ministries helps young Ugandans by providing them with school fees to go to vocational school to learn basic computer skills, or to learn to be electricians or carpenters, or even pianists (there is a severe pianist shortage in Uganda actually, and they make good money). Housing and food are also provided– no strings attached. Ravens ministries can support a student like this for about 125/month, and Ryan and Abel provide personal interaction and accountability, advice and direction to these young people.
One wonderful thing about this kind of ministry is that it is very practical in helping young people on the edge of losing hope to gain skills which make them self sufficient. Although Ravens ministries is quite young, one of their 3 graduates has come back and supported the ministry financially with the money she now makes with her job she received after going through school with Ravens Ministry help and support.
It is not uncommon for Ugandans, especially women, to find that when others help them, there are strings attached– something else is wanted in return for the ‘help’. So it is very surprising and remarkable to these young people when they find that there really are no strings– nothing is expected in return except that they work hard to make use of their schooling to help themselves.
Ryan works for pastor Abel’s ministry, but he is under a mission agency which allows him a lot of autonomy. His expenses are low, so he can live on just over 1,000 per month support. Simple Free and friends of simple free provide a strong share of Ryans support, but Ravens Ministries can always use help to sponsor more and more youth to be given help and direction for their lives. When you realize that it only would cost about 1500/year for 3-5 years to change the lives of these Ugandans forever, it seems like a doable task with real tangible outcomes. In short, for the cost of some short term missions trips churches often send high schoolers out on, we could transform the life of Ugandan forever.
With so many big ministries with high overhead costs and distant vague goals, its so great to be able to support dear friends who have an effective, efficient, and fairly simple ministry which seems to really utilize resources well for powerful and concrete ends for Christ’s purposes.
Pastor Abel is in the US for the first time ever in his life, along with Ryan as they meet some supporters and try to find new support. If you know someone or a group who may be interested in learning more about their powerful ministry, let us know or contact Ryan Directly. The site for Raven’s Ministries is: http://www.ravensministries.org/
Here is a recent article about their ministry in the Omaha World Herald: http://omaha.com/article/20110705/NEWS01/707059930
in the Council Bluffs newspaper: http://www.southwestiowanews.com/articles/2011/07/03/council_bluffs/news/doc4e0e70d6cd2eb038837664.txt#small
We are so excited for what Pastor Abel and Ryan are doing in Uganda. A simple vision to make a practical difference in the lives of Ugandans.
May God have mercy on us all!