Ryan has been sharing the Word of Jesus Christ in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan for the last eight years.Pastor Gary Beatty of the Boca Grande First Baptist Church has followed his mission closely, and the church even ran an editorial about Ryan in the Beacon’s September 30 issue. At that time, though, it wasn’t considered safe to give his name. In the civil war-torn area where he is located, where death from robbery or racial profiling is very commonplace, Beatty said he was very hesitant to give Ryan’s name. Just last week the “New York Times” ran a story about Ryan’s travels and decision to stay behind in an area that is considered extremely unsafe.
Ryan left when he was in his early 20s, and had little more than the support of his parents, Glenn and Fran. Since then, though, he has gained the support of thousands. In the mountains where he lives, he has shared his faith with a vastly different culture. He has preached, prayed, built many churches, and even married a local health worker.
Unfortunately, he has also had to see his home become a war zone, with more than one attack on himself. He was urged to evacuate when fighting began, but could not morally leave his home. Over the years, a major Christian missionary organization took Ryan under their wing and regularly sent him financial support. A few months ago, though, the organization said they were sending a plane to take Ryan and his wife away from the danger. Ryan refused. He told his parents, “What kind of testimony would that be?”
The money received from that organization held him through many times of need, but it stopped when Ryan refused to leave. That’s when the little Baptist Church in Boca Grande stepped in, as they have for 19 other missionaries around the world. They have been doing what they can to help Ryan stay alive and continue his mission, but it hasn’t been an easy road.
His frustration for the lack of concern in the Nuba Mountains has since led him to return to the States for a short while, to share his stories, help others understand, and raise awareness.
“He’s in the States now, has had meetings in Washington, D.C., and he’s been in touch with Harvard University’s Department of Human Rights,” Beatty said. “I’ve spoken with him, and I believe his parents are expected to attend the speech on Wednesday.
“He’s truly a hero.”
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