Ryan and Vanessa Keating serve in North Cyprus with their children Jonah (17), Alev (15), and Lale (13). Their daughter Ruby (19) has recently started at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.
Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean that is divided into two countries. The Republic of Cyprus is Greek-speaking and predominantly Greek Orthodox Christian. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is Turkish speaking and predominanty Muslim. Most of the world does not recognize the legitimacy of North Cyprus as an independent nation. Divisions and ethnic tensions have characterized the island for centuries.
The Keatings served in Turkey for 10 years until Ryan was deported in 2016 as a threat to national security because of the ministry they were doing. Ryan is a field leader with World Horizons, an international Christian non profit. He is a graduate of Biola University (’00 BA in Biblical Studies) and Yale University (’06 MAR in Islam and World Christianity). His doctoral studies were interrupted at Ankara University when he was deported and he has recently made plans to continue. Vanessa teaches second grade at a school in Cyprus where she is able to model unity and reconciliation in her classroom with Greek and Turkish students. The Keatings’ ministry in Cyprus centers around three major focuses.
1) Church: Ryan serves as a pastor for a Turkish-speaking fellowship, an African fellowship, an international English- speaking fellowship, and a Russian-speaking fellowship. He shares preaching and leading responsibilities with a group of elders and he teaches in English and Turkish. The churches are ethnically diverse, which represents the diversity of the island. All of the Keatings are actively involved in the work of the church.
2) Training Program: Ryan directs an intensive, three-month program called Exile Ministry Training that equips men and women for ministry, especially to the Muslim world. They receive 8-10 students a year from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds, inviting them to live in community where they can grow in knowledge, experience, and character.
3) Exile Café: The Keatings run a small business which provides business training and experience for the community. It serves as a meeting place for their church gatherings and as a hub for local ministry projects like Magusa Food Bank that distributes staple food items to people in need. The café also runs as an art gallery, featuring the work of local artists.
In addition to these major focuses, Ryan is also an active writer with ongoing academic and poetry projects. He has a co- authored chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Univerity Press Handbook on Omnipresence and a book of his poetry, A Dance in Medias Res will be released by Wipf and Stock Publishers later this year.
In recent years Ryan has had to navigate significant government harassment and persecution. He is battling three separate frivolous law suits related to the Keatings’ ministry, and they recently won a defamation case against a local newspaper that printed a slanderous story about them.