Northwest Welcomes Steve Richardson
By Bill MacLeod, Director, MissionConnexion
Steve Richardson may live in the USA, but his heart and passion extends worldwide for those yet to be reached with the Good News of Jesus. He grew up in Indonesia where his parents took the gospel to a jungle people called the Sawi, a story documented in his father’s missionary classic, Peace Child.
Steve and his wife Arlene moved to Southeast Asia in 1986 to plant churches among a major Muslim unreached people group. With a team of 40 workers, using an innovative approach, they eventually started a center for evangelism, various media ministries, English language schools and a major “business as mission” project. Since 1999 Steve has served as the President of Pioneers-USA which now has 340 teams impacting over 500 unreached people groups!
An interesting piece of trivia is that Arlene’s Dad founded the organization Steve now leads, and their dad’s kind of acted as matchmakers to bring the two together during college!
We are thrilled to have Steve join us for the first time since he was last with us in 2015. We asked him to respond to a few questions related to our theme: “Here I am…What’s Next?”
- What were the circumstances that led you to make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ… when you initially said: “Here I am Lord!”??
I came to saving faith as a young boy when one of our supporters shared with me that I needed my own personal relationship with Jesus, and it wasn’t enough to ride on my missionary parents’ coattails. He had been sending us gospel tracts out in the jungle where my parents were reaching a lost tribe. I thought that was rather unusual, but it paid off! I came under real conviction, gave myself to the Lord, and have never turned back.
- When it came to ministry, especially the work you are now in, what were the circumstances that led you to say: “Here I am… what’s next Lord?”
Our family was on our second “furlough” or “home assignment” when I was ten. One week my father was the main speaker at a family camp called Esperanza on Vancouver Island. I remember him challenging all of us on the final night to make ourselves available to take the gospel message to the lost around the world. I felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking directly to me. I still remember Dad’s voice as he said, “My own son has stood to his feet. Will there be any others?” From that time, I set my heart on serving the Lord through missions. I kept walking through one open door after another, eventually leading a church planting team among one of the largest Muslim unreached groups in the world, and then serving in leadership with Pioneers.
- What challenges / opportunities are you seeing from your global ministry perspective for those who may be sensing God calling them into missions?
I have no doubt we’re living in the most exciting era of Great Commission advance. The growth of the worldwide church over the last 2,000 years is nothing less than astonishing. And I am particularly excited that the church in the “global south” is gaining great momentum in their own missions, vision, and outreach. This could suggest to some that those of us in the west are no longer needed, or that there is not much left to be done. But nothing could be further from the truth. This is an era when we need “all-hands-on deck.” The need is still great, and it’s primarily a need for more workers, just as it was in Jesus’ time. This is a time for collaboration and creativity and prayerful urgency. With all the problems and challenges in our own society, it’s easy to look downward and just focus on our own Jerusalem and Judea, but I believe God is still calling us to lift our eyes to the remaining Great Commission task around the world as well.
- What would you like people attending MCNW 2023 to come away with, especially considering the emphasis you will bring regarding our “Here I am… What’s Next?” Theme?
I hope we’ll be encouraged by the amazing ways God is working around the world, and the remarkable opportunities that we must be involved. I hope to dispel some misperceptions that people may have, and help us to stay on mission, making disciples of all the nations.
And speaking of misconceptions, Steve will convene our Leadership Connexion event on Friday, January 20th as we discuss his book, Is the Commission Still Great? …as we address 8 myths about missions and what they mean for YOUR church!