Thursday, December 04, 2008

Joey wrote this because I simply just don't have words....

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A GREAT MAN

Ok, this is a tough one, but I need to write it and you need to read it.

A great man passed away yesterday. There is no other way to describe him. He is one of the most amazing men I have ever known. The least I can do for him is tell what of his story I know to everyone so the world can see what a horrible loss we suffered yesterday.

His name was Ryan Bartlett. He was a pastor. He was the man who joined my wife and myself in marriage. He was married and just weeks away from his 14th wedding anniversary with his wife Katie. He leaves three beautiful daughters, Anna, Lydia, and Ella.

I first met Ryan when I started going to the Free Methodist church in Prescott, Arizona with Kadie, before we started dating. In this small church of about 100 or so people, Ryan was the worship leader, pastor, youth pastor and friend. I don’t know many pastors who cared as much for each and every person in their church the way he did. Whenever you spoke with him you had his full attention for however long you needed it.

He loved to laugh. He loved to joke. He loved to make movies. He loved his girls. He loved God. He loved his extended church family. The thing I loved about him most is that he was real. He didn’t try to be someone he wasn’t up there. He was himself. Real and honest.

Ryan helped my wife and her family very much. They had been very hurt by different churches before they ended up at Ryan’s. Ryan reached out, and took the time with each of them because he genuinely cared. He was always genuine.

I played on the worship team with him every other Sunday. He had an amazing voice. He could have walked into a studio, recorded a country CD and made millions. I was amazed by his voice. But he felt God wanted him in ministry instead.

So here he was, this 30 something year old man, pouring his life, heart and soul into these people because he loved each and every one them. I don’t even know half the stories of the lives he touched and changed with his life.

After Kadie and I were engaged Ryan found an associate pastor to join him at the church. Being everything can wear on you, and it was good to be able to sit every other Sunday.

Ryan did pre-marital counseling with us, which really ended up being time we could all laugh and joke around. He talked about some things, but then decided we would be just fine and we spent the last few sessions just hanging out with him.

Ryan and Katie had a beautiful, old 1940 Ford hard top convertible that Ryan decided we needed to use as our get-away car after our ceremony. He was going to let me drive it off, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to touch it; it was that nice. Then he offered to be our chauffer. So on our wedding day, he was our pastor, chauffer and one of our best friends.

Not long after the wedding. Ryan decided to go to Malawi to take over this pastor’s school there. He went and visited to help the pastor there and fell in love with the people there and felt led to go and help there. It was terribly sad to see him go, but I suppose you can’t be selfish with someone like that.

In Africa, he had been working with those who wanted to become pastors, those that were pastors and all kinds of other people he could reach. His ministry recently granted money to 34 churches who are working to help some of the half million orphans in Malawi by teaching them a trade or skill.

Much of what he has been doing is on www.teamwithafrica.org.

On December 2, 2008, Ryan was delivering food to needy pastors around Malawi with another pastor. They were in a car accident. The other pastor, last I heard, was still in the hospital and may loose his legs. Pastor Ryan died.

I can’t quite yet wrap my head around how God decided it was time for this amazing man to leave this earth. But, he touched so many lives, including my own, that I couldn’t let the memory of his life pass without telling at least one more person about him.

If you pray, and even if you don’t usually, please say a prayer for his wife Katie and their three girls.

Thank you for taking the time.

Here's a picture of Ryan and his beautiful family...

15 comments:

Queen Mimi 5:16 AM  

What an Amazing Post. I am the Mom of Jennifer Willson who worked with Ryan and Katie in Malawi. While I never met Ryan in Person, I had communicated with him via e-mail and frequent visits to his blog/photos. The Bartletts have been like family to my daughter and her family in Africa. So in a way, I've felt like a praying Mom/Grandma for them too here in the States. This has hit our family hard....I can only imagine how his family and those who really knew him are feeling. Know that I am lifting you up right now. God Bless, Pam

Brandi 8:26 AM  

Wow, I am so sorry for your loss of a friend, and for his families' lost. It sounds he like touched so many people. /hugs

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Thank you for a loving tribute to Ryan. My husband and I attended college with Ryan and Katie and have been blessed by their friendship ever since. We will miss him deeply and will continue to keep Katie and their beautiful girls in our prayers.
Amanda

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

So Sorry for your loss! Austin and I will be praying for his family and you too! Blessings!

Amy and Austin Baum

The Dunns 5:20 PM  

Thank you. That was a wonderful description of a godly man.

I had the privilege of going to college with Katie and Ryan, too. Katie was my best friend in college. My hubbie and I dated each other while Katie & Ryan were dating and falling head over heels in love. Katie was my matron-of-honor. I am grieving and praying for the Bartletts.

Jim 7:18 PM  

Thanks Joe,
Ryan will be missed... His passing makes me so terribly sad.

Jim Congrove

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Thank you so much for this loving tribute of Ryan. Katie is my little sister and Ryan was not just my brother-in-law, he was my brother. My daughter, Sam, and I had the incredible honor of being able to spend two weeks in Malawi with them last March. We saw first-hand the work they were doing there and how they both were touching so many lives. We would laugh and say that Ryan was Malawian - he was so immersed in their culture and the Malawians loved and respected him.

My family has been irrevocably changed by this tragedy. We are so devastated and feel so incredibly helpless that we cannot be in Malawi with Katie to help her walk through this terrible ordeal.

Our only comfort is knowing that Ryan lived his dream and that he followed his calling. The love, support, tears and encouragement that we have received from so many people has been overwhelming.

Thank you for posting this - the world must know what an amazing man Ryan was and how he touched us all.

Laurie Bertagna-Royal

Sabrina Romero 10:16 AM  

It is always a sad day when someone who has touched so many lifes passes to be with God. I am terribly sorry for your loss and am praying for all that have been saddened by this loss, especially his wife and children. They now have their gardian angel to look out for them. Bylly's and my prayers are with you at this time also, we understand how hard it is to loose a friend.

Billy and Sabrina Romero

Kirsten 3:58 AM  

so sorry. I used to live in Malawi, looks like that picture is taken on Lake Malawi. Driving can get crazy there that's for sure. A real senseless loss and I'm sure the peoplle of Malawi are sad to see him go as well.

Mike S

Amada Papazian 10:16 AM  

Ryan has touched so many lives and brought God's love to so many people. I will always cherish the memory of how he has touched ours.

As a young married couple with 2 small children, my husband and I had never spent much time in church and certainly couldn't claim to have personal relationships with Christ. That changed for us the day that we first attended the Prescott Free Methodist Church and met the charismatic young pastor and his wife.

Ryan taught me that through God's love and grace I could be forgiven and I could begin to forgive myself for my many mistakes.

Ryan and Katie became great friends, sharing countless meals, celebrating birthdays and holidays and always exhibiting God's love in all of their dealings with us. When my husband joined the military, Ryan took my boys on outings and helped to provide a wonderful male influence for them. While pregnant with my youngest and dealing with bed rest, Ryan had a cot placed in the sanctuary so that I could continue to be a part of Sunday services. When my youngest son was born several weeks premature, Ryan and Katie took my children into their home and cared for them while I was away. Once I was home, Ryan would come and spend the night with the children so that I could free to stay with my baby in the hospital at night.

Ryan will forever hold a place in my family. My prayers are with Katie and the girls. Ryan helped to change our lives which in turn has changed the lives of my children. I thank God for putting this family in our lives!

All of our love and prayers,
Amanda,Russell,Tyler,Austin and Logan Papazian-Restall

Mark Christensen 3:29 PM  

This afternoon I received an email from my old boss who is Ryan's wife's uncle. So sad to read in yet so happy that he is rejoicing at the thrown of our Lord.

Ross and Kammi 9:48 PM  

So sorry to hear about this loss. Thoughts and prayers to all the family and friends lives he touched so much. Being a Christian I know he is a beautiful place, but the struggles we have here when someone leaves us is so hard to cope with. Prayers to the family and friends, may God comfort you during this time.

Heidi Childers 10:34 PM  

Thank you for sharing your beautiful description of Ryan. He was truly an amazing human being that will be deeply missed by all.
My heart and prayers go out to Katie, his three precious little girls and to his parents Ron and Gloria, and brother Paul. Ryan was doing what he loved and did more in his short lifetime for the glory of God than most do in an entire lifetime. What an example he is to all of us!

Ryan was like a brother to me, and I have so many wonderful memories of growing up with the Bartlett family. I will cherish these memories forever! The Bartlett family became my "family" when I lost my dad to cancer at a very young age. They welcomed my mom, my brother Chris, and myself into their family. We shared so many wonderful times together throughout the years and I will always hold these dear to my heart.

Ryan has made such a difference in this world and he has impacted and changed countless lives. Even through this devastating tragedy, his life continues to impact even more lives!
We love you and miss you Ryan~

Heidi Miller Childers
Grants Pass, OR

Ashley 7:09 PM  

I had no idea what happend until today when I an email from Katie. Ryan touched my life in so many ways. He helped me find God after being so lost my entire life. I loved him and his entire family. They were open and welcoming to everyone. My favorite part of college was attending Ryan's sermons and going to the Bartlet's house for bible study. He did truely have an amazing voice. Thank you for writing this about him.

Lauren 8:34 PM  

I just happened to be admiring Kadie's and your work and came across this blog.

Ryan was the best man I have ever known. He died on my baby, Addie's due date. Thankfully she was not born that day because it would have just been too hard. For several nights after his death I would wake up and start to think about him and katie and their family and I would just cry. For weeks I would dream about Ryan and I would know in my dreams that he had died in real life, but in my dream he was not dead or it had not been true. I could not come to terms with the fact that my dear friend was gone.

Addie was born four days after Ryan's death, and though my heart still ached for the loss of this dear friend, God reminded me that He gives and He takes away. There is the death of a loved one and the birth of a new loved one, God has everything in His perfect control and has a perfect plan.

I miss Ryan terribly and don't go a day without thinking about him. When I saw Katie in Oregon in March, that was the first time I really came to terms with Ryan's passing. I had closure. I had never seen Katie without Ryan somewhere near by, and sitting down with her that day and reminiscing about all my memories of Ryan, that was when I could truly believe he was gone. I have not had a dream about Ryan since that time. God gave me peace.

One thing I told Katie and I truly believe is, Ryan touched so many lives through his own life, and he has gone on to touch so many lives again or maybe for the first time through his death.

My heart aches with you Joe and Kadie. He was a good man, one that will be forever missed.

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