Friday, May 10, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Ryan Lee

I call this dear friend of mine I call Mr. Lee. We were interns together my first summer at Timber Wolf Lake in 2011. There were two Ryans, so I figured their proper names would suffice and so Ryan will always be Mr. Lee to me. He tends to call me "Abourjoojoo" and is the only person to ever do so. I am forever thankful for Mr. Lee's countless visits into the office that summer to give me a hard time or to just hang out. He has been such a fun person to get to know and someone who encourages me to live a different story that is truly marked by the Lord. Ryan is now living in Grand Rapids, MI leading Urban Young Life and I absolutely love being at camp when him and his guys come. It's an absolute joy to see him lead in ministry and to lay his life down for his guys. 

mr. lee as coach kenny, twl program session 4
with his girlfriend and my sweet, sweet friend, abby

I appreciate Ryan's post so much because it is a true testament to the Lord's faithfulness and then also gives you a glimpse into Ryan's life. He paints a picture of what it means to have faith in God, and for that I am thankful.


“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
Mark 11:22-23

When I was 18, I read this verse (for probably the 100th time), and it changed my life forever. I had always believed in God, but a walk with him just never appealed to me. Instead, I decided to do my best to carve my own path. Surely, I could do a better job at making myself happy than he could. In retrospect, it was a stupid plan.

After discovering an empty hole inside, and trying my best to fill it with anything I could, I realized I wasn’t doing such a great job carving my path after all. Then I rediscovered those words in the book of Mark – “Have Faith in God”. As if I couldn’t imagine why I had ever tried anything else, I started making some big decisions. I got a huge tattoo of that scripture on my arm (Sorry Mom), and told God to send me where he wanted me, and I would obey. About a week later, I got a very random call from a man in Kansas City, KS, who said he had heard a bit of my story and wanted me to live in a “Guy’s house” nearby to him. Turned out, this house was a place where young men went and lived in intentional community with each other to learn about God’s will for us. So… I held up to my word. Three days later I moved away from my home in Atlanta, GA.

I stayed in Kansas City for two years, and up to that point, it was the best time of my life. While there, I discovered Young life, met my best friends, and found life-long mentors. By the end of my time, my desires had totally changed. God had revealed to me a love for young people, and a never ending hunger to align my heart with His. He had done exactly what Jesus said He would, He rewarded faithfulness, with faithfulness. 

As I approached the end of year two in Kansas, I was accepted to intern at Young Life’s summer camp in Northern Michigan - Timber Wolf Lake. That summer I was blessed to serve young people with a group of believers who became dear friends (including our lovely Jordan Abourjilie). During my time at camp I prayed that the Lord would once again send me where He wanted me next. He revealed His path through a Young Life Area director in Grand Rapids, MI named Q. After a few weeks of fellowship at camp, Q asked me to consider coming to Grand Rapids, to pursue Urban Young Life. After a few days of prayer, I decided to do exactly what had made sense so far “Have Faith in God”.

When I called my family that summer to tell them I would be staying in Michigan, the response was only more confirmation of his faithfulness. Turns out, they had been praying for months and decided to move from Atlanta to redevelop a Summer Camp that had fallen apart. Their hope was to open the property to intercity ministries. Where was the camp? None other than Grand Rapids, MI. My family moved to Grand Rapids, exactly a month before I did.

I have now lived in Michigan for nearly two years, and work for Urban Young Life here in the city. Every day is different, and challenging, and joy-filled.  As a White guy befriending and talking about Jesus with intercity kids, it’s been made very apparent that my words and actions mean very little when on their own.  Thankfully he reminds me everyday -“Have Faith in God”.

Where I am on His journey now, and where I started, are radically different. Thankfully though, in a world filled with clutter and complications, He makes it very simple. Faith. He doesn’t promise us things will be easy, He doesn’t promise us things will be clear, but He does promise that if we are faithful, He will return it.

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