Facing Fear

I am currently in Madagascar where I will be serving with Mercy Ships for eight months. During my free time, I will be taking free family photos throughout the country. My hope is that by freely offering my time and talent, I will be able instill dignity and bring hope to families – as many as time permits. With each family, I will listen to their story and, with consent, share their story and photo with you and the world. The pinnacle of this project is to return to the family and provide them with a high quality 8×12 printed and framed family photograph.

Photo Cred: Walter P.

In part of this desire, co-created with my good friend Walter Pretorius, we’ve recently announced a movement called Free Family Photos. The purpose of FFP is to do just what I’ve described above. In the early development stages of FFP, the request for support to purchase a printer was made, which excitingly is on the way and expected to arrive in Madagascar soon! I’m amazed by the support and encouraging words that have been shared with me, and am grateful that the Lord has made a way for the printer and all of the supplies to be purchased. A big thank you to everyone who has been following Free Family Photos and helped support the purchase of the printer!

Walter P.

Diving deeper into my heart, I have a strong desire to find a way to release families from poverty. “Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours,” is one of the tracks that repeats throughout my life. I recognize that the only holistic way for families to break free from poverty is to come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It’s my goal to freely give, that’s the example that Christ set for me. If I am asked why I’m doing what I do, I’ll openly share that the motivation is for all to come to know and serve our Lord – stepping out of poverty and into freedom.

With that, it’s easy to perceive that I’m overlooking the physical and economical aspects of poverty and recognize that they are not to be forgotten. And I am encouraged to the challenge of thinking that a simple gift of a family photo, and the more-precious gift of time, speak volumes to human value. I’d insist they blind the lack of wealth and open the eyes to see more meaningful aspects of life. If only for a minute, a family doesn’t measure themselves by what they physically have, but has the opportunity to see their value based on Gods unmeasurable Love, then maybe, just maybe, they’d be able to find freedom from the chains of the lie that satan holds us to believe – that wealth and power are happiness and happiness is only possible in a first world country. We all need more time with Love. Time with Love, captured to be remembered. Hope, visible as God shines His light. That light is captured, the story is written down and an amazing gift of who you are and who is important in your life is freely printed, framed, and returned to be remembered for generations. If one family gives their life to the Lord as the result of the time, kindness and the displayed message of equality, the effort would be a complete success and worth all the time.

Now, God has arranged this story in such a way that it is largely through our lives that people get a glimpse of Jesus. So it might be good to ask yourself, when it comes to my life, what is the Jesus they see? (The Utter Relief of Holiness – Page 166)

I have been thinking, what message does my life tell? If I could author my story, I’d want it to be a story of giving endlessly and never running out – knowing who my Provider is. I would want there to be a chapter about taking on challenges, failing fearlessly, but rising up with optimism, persistence and wisdom. Certainly I’d want it to include a chapter on loving, faithfully, loyally, with joy and zeal. My story would definitely, and does, include struggles with relationships and communication, but in my eyes the most important chapter that I can see would be on committing to serve Jesus in all I say and do.

I believe that Romans 12 describes this:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I recently finished the book The Winning Attitude by John C. Maxwell and am blown away at the insight and encouragement he offers.

When asking a group of church leaders “What keeps you from building a great work for God?,” the number one answer Maxwell received was “Fear of failure.”

I don’t want to be that guy, so I’m putting one of my small dreams out there. Out in the world where it could be trampled on, destroyed and forgotten forever. But with a better perspective, reminding myself to look at the glass as half full, it could be supported, encouraged, approached with love and fulfilled. Coming from a family who loves basketball, I often remember the quote by Wayne Gretzky, “You’ll miss one-hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” I’m going to take a shot. Mistake 1, as my friend Jamie Vonk pointed out to me, Wayne Gretzky is a hockey player, not basketball, but the quote is completely applicable and quoted on the basketball court. Thanks for humbling me, Jamie 🙂

Jamie (the one with two legs)

Continuing on, I have decided that if I want to be used to do big things in this world, I have to trust in God who created me, and not my own strength. Failure is a risk of trying and an opportunity to learn from, not something to be afraid of or prevent me from moving forward in faith. It also doesn’t define who I am.

Admittedly, I’ve been pretty fearful recently. Have you ever wanted something really bad but been too afraid to ask for help to get it?

Maybe you’ve also found yourself in my shoes, where you never tried to ask for help because you were so afraid of what people would think about you for asking.

That small dream that I have is getting a new camera that is currently out of my budget. From the start of Free Family Photos, I’ve been eyeing this camera, but have never asked for any help to get it in fear that I would be rejected or shamed for asking for such an expensive item.

“The” camera

I’ve been long in prayer with God about this request, and I’ve had to challenge my motives and heart multiple times to ensure I am in the right place with this desire. Can I be happy and “full” without this, absolutely! God has been taking me on a journey to rid the idols of my life, and I don’t desire to add any more back. I’m in a confident place that the reason I desire this particular camera is to help others.

One exciting thought of having a camera like this is being able to share it. When I was in high school, the photographers from Maxwell Studios of Fresno, CA trustingly shared their Canon DSLR bazooka-camera with me at basketball games to take action shots for them. It was big, heavy and expensive, but they were happy to give me a chance. I value moments like that!

Further, in reaching out to families who have never had a family photo taken, I want to do it with the best gear available and appropriate. The particular camera is small and doesn’t feel like you have a bazooka pointed in your face. It’s my dream to point a camera, typically intended to photograph celebrities, at some of the most beautiful people in the world, and remind them how special and valuable they truly are.

I don’t want to be afraid to ask for help and admit that I need help, so long as I can say that I’ve challenged my motives and I know why I’m asking. To that, I feel certain. It might turn out that the timing is not right, but the desire is sure. I want to be apart of giving the best to families who would only normally get what’s left.

How does this small dream come true? For it to happen, I’m asking you for your help and support. The camera I have been talking about is a Leica M-P with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. All together, it is just less than $14,000 – see below for more details. God, who created the universe, is well aware of value and never had a problem with price, but He had a big problem with idolatry.


Sharing this dream is certainly a vulnerable moment for me. But now that it’s done, I can relax, knowing that God is in control and His will will be done. Thank you for your time!

Way’s you could help…

There are few ways you could help. The first is through financial support. In financially supporting, you’ll also receive a tax deductible receipt through my Mercy Ships donor page – see green link below. The next way is to share my vision and my story with your friends! And last, but certainly the most important, I would ask that you’d pray for me – specifically for my heart, continued faithfulness, and perseverance with this project. As I mentioned before about the FFP project, the absence of a high quality printer would not stop the movement, same goes with the camera.

I can’t wait to share more on how FFP is helping to change families lives!

God Bless,

President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar waving at me
The view of Toamasina, Madagascar from the ship.

 Gear Details:

Gear Image Name Link Price
 camera Leica M-P Digital Rangefinder Camera (Black) goo.gl/VUBR20


 lens Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH Lens (Black) goo.gl/HPCfyY


 card SanDisk 16GB Extreme PRO SDHC UHS-II Memory Card goo.gl/DCwI2E


 filter Leica E46 UVa Glass Filter goo.gl/jKQOzL


 battery Leica BP-SCL2 Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (7.4V, 1800 mAh) goo.gl/2OUqDE


 bag ONA Berlin II Camera Messenger Bag (Vintage Bourbon) goo.gl/z7Beu4


Link to all: goo.gl/78ZVoB



4 thoughts on “Facing Fear

  1. Hello Ryan!

    I was thinking about you in church today and even wrote a note to myself on my bulletin to donate to you. I would call it a huge coincidence to open my e-mail this evening and find your message, but you and I both know it’s a “God Thing.”

    I’m more than happy to donate to such a unique and loving project and I have no doubt that you will be successful in this endeavor! I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures of these beautiful families.



    1. Hi Melanie,

      It’s encouraging to hear that you made that note at church.

      You have such a wonderful heart! Thank you for supporting!



  2. I’m proud of you, Ryan. I’m not sure if this Theodore Roosevelt quote is familiar to you but it is one of my favorites and seems apropot:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


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