Good evening fellow followers both from the east & west coasts and anywhere in between.
I say with quite a bit of rejoice and celebration in my once unclean, murky spirit that God has showered blessings upon me in my three plus weeks here in the neighborhood of Capitol Hill that sits at the crowning heights of Seattle, Washington.
A city that has blown wide open my doors of expectations; gosh, so exceedingly. For those of you reading who may not be aware: I am not a city person. I’ve spent time in my home spot of Boston as well as New York City, Cleveland, Chicago and others. Never have I received the vibes I have gotten from such a dwelling that is composed of predictable downtown city features [impressive architecture demonstrated via business structures & towers], a majestic waterfront with daily ferries carrying to and fro (never mind the rich salmon served at the Fisherman’s Restaurant on the water right beside the multi-lighted Ferris wheel consisting of gondolas mind you [New Englanders usually only witness gondolas that take skiers to the top of snow-covered mountains] and a breath-taking view of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges encircling what seems to be the whole entire metropolis [these highlands aren’t those ‘ole four-thousand footers like back home- try doubling that or even quadrupling that and you get Mt. Rainier ascending above the clouds; never ceases to amaze me especially when it reveals it’s splendor from the top of the magnificent Space Needle on a clear day].
All that to say, it is a bit of ‘big deal’ that I have fallen in love with Seattle & it’s Seattlites coming from a guy who in most cases despises the city. Fair enough. I think I can state that God has already broken some bubbles, some comfort zones, some stereotypes…oh, and maybe even some close-minded preconceptions about ‘city-living’. Yes. I am most definitely in a season of thought reformation.
I find that the term ‘blessed’ no longer does justice to the opportunity here God has granted me. Three weeks since God sent one of His many servants into unknown territory yet with a purpose; a mission, a voice that shall not be silenced. I am honored by all who contributed sacrificially in their finances to this mission. And yes, you who gave will soon be receiving cheap, fun Seattle ‘thank you’ post cards as a token of my gratitude. I cannot adequately express my grateful heart to my support system just as I can’t do the same to my Lord and Savior who has left me speechless on several occasions already and I’ve barely scratched the surface of Serve Seattle and the Union Gospel Mission.
I’d love to share a few things that the Big Man upstairs is up to.
He is undergoing a severe surgery on my heart, my mind and my soul. It’s been a 21 day operation thus far but hey people just like two hundred more days to go! When I was in the final stages of preparation & planning for traveling to Seattle, I began to ask and pray to my Father who has nonstop, attentive, listening ears to reveal to me the areas in my life that been hid under the rug the year of 2014. What I mean is that God in His mercy, grace & redemption through Christ has saved me & broken my chains of atrocious sinful habits over the years: binge drinking, sexual immorality, worrying of the future to name a few. I felt as though these upcoming months could be put to really good spiritual use by having me begin to evaluate my ever-polluted heart to see what ‘less apparent’ sins, if you catch my drift, had snuck their way in and made a cozy little home in my heart-cave somewhere where they were not being addressed.
Well, to my surprise God answered that one in the first week. Could not have been more blessed to be given a “good talking to” [no wooden spoons involved] by my R.A. Just ‘early on’ reminders to be aware and conscious of my very out-going personality and how it can tend to get out of control ESPECIALLY when I latch on to a whole new family out here so rapidly. This was more than appropriate of him to do and to think I wore a smile the WHOLE time he was talking (NOT LECTURING). Why? Because instantly I knew it was God speaking through Him. It was God answering prayer. It was a sign of my first accountability partner within a durable brotherhood of Christ-seeking men. It was a recap that each one of us carries some minor imperfections or unique character traits that need to be kept inside boundaries for the sake of those around.
That way we can more effectively as God-loving people love our neighbor as ourselves, yah’ feel me?
Another God-moment (cheesy Christianese line) arrived while my team and I resided in the mountains of West Washington two hours away from our home in the city at a resort called Suncadia [totally refreshing to be back in my natural habitat with that New England feel to it]. This was a two and a half day retreat for the group to gather necessary rest and rejuvenation before officially being sent into the mission field as well as a time to continue to grow in family bonding and connecting. One way this was accomplished was through personal stories and testimonies beginning to be shared publicly amongst us interns by the wicked (keeping it somewhat Boston out here with my language) fabulous staff directing our paths.
Our housing maintenance leader spoke vulnerably one frigid evening around the glowing fire pit about her story and the work God was doing in her already traumatic and eventful life. That night I was given a glimpse of hope for some younger people very close to my heart who have experienced quite more tragedies, misfortunes and heart breaks than the average teen. How is this possible? Pretty plainly put, this staff was living proof that young, innocent girls who lose their father at a very young age and other sudden family threatening ordeals can still become beautiful God-fearing, kind-hearted, hope-filled women who wear smiles at their job like it’s a part of the requirement for their occupation. But they’re not smiling nonstop because they are told to; they do it because there is a joy and faith within them in a God who loves them more than life itself and who has shown a continual faithfulness in their life even amidst the tears and anguish-driven “why Gods”.
Yep. This was an optimism I needed subconsciously without even knowing it but God knew my needs before they ever came to my attention. The staff’s story overall highlighted some past similarities in my life that ultimately led to me balling my eyes out for the first time in what I think has been a year. But again, God is good and knew I was overdue for a rush of the floodgates to release some raw emotions. You’ll never feel more loved by people when they are laying hands over your body and singing songs of worship. For me, that priceless juncture sealed the deal that I had in fact discovered…
a new family.
To top it off, three days ago I began to slightly panic about my finances being an unemployed man for the first time in who knows how long. I never once doubted God in His provisions to send me to the west coast and yet here I was after being delivered, expenses paid and slowly thinking in a concerned manner how was I gonna’ stay afloat without picking up some sort of cash somewhere.
I remember picking up my phone, typing out two texts to two different people who I thought might like a little nudging reminder of ‘Hey, I am kinda’ hurting . You said you would give and continually support me, right?’ Well, it did not take long to receive a halt in my spirit and next thing you know, those messages never got sent. And I didn’t even collect a clear reason for why I was not supposed to press ‘send’. But I’ve learned to be hesitant in making decisions if you’re not 100% at peace that you should make that move. In that exact moment, I was reading my daily devotional that read ‘prayer is a challenge; a spiritual dare’. I knew at that point something fishy was going on and decided to stick with my trust in God over the matter. Next day, Ryan receives a hefty check in his personal mailbox….
You ever just wish you had a physical manifestation of Jesus near you sometimes
so you could just give him a bro hug?
Man, was I feigning for that right then and there.
Last little ‘God is the man’ occasion took place as I got the news I would be interning with a partner organization of the Union Gospel Mission called R.E.S.T. (Real Escape From The Sex Trade). The Lord has reignited my holy discontent, fire and passion towards the fastest growing criminal industry that there is; marketing God’s precious daughters as sex slaves. I hope that makes you cringe like it does to me. Watching documentaries moving me to tears and instantaneous, intercessory prayer over the victims, perpetrators and customers [johns] has honestly almost made me feel guilty for falling out from involvement in fighting against human sex trafficking since graduating college. It is going to be heavy work I can tell you that. But I am so blessed (overused much Ryan?) that I am working beneath one of the most knowledgeable, Spirit-filled supervisors you could have the privilege of interning alongside who possesses such a hunger for reaching the dirty hearts of men in this corrupted world. There will be SO much more to tell y’all once the real work gets underway. Until then, please lift me up in prayer. I am going to need it with the course load upon my shoulders.
I bet that was a meaty enough of an update for you to read. I can’t promise I will have the availability to post an update weekly moving forward so my goal will be twice a month.
AND NO I DIDN’T FORGET ABOUT THE MOVIE I SPENT ALL YEAR LONG WORKING ON AND PRODUCING!
That being said, I HOPE YOU DID NOT EITHER! Stay up to date with me here folks as I am currently in the process of forming my marketing teams for both the west and east coast. ‘Going Through The Motions’ is still being completed, edited and scored in the mean time.
So much love to you guys.
Ryan Walters. ’98.6 Too Cold’ Founder, Blogger
Follow me at @ryanjwalters on Twitter/Instagram For More!