March 20, 2018
My dear friend,
I write this letter on John Richard’s 95th birthday. I am seized by his memory. He passed away 17 days short of this rather momentous day. I was fully expecting him to make it and had airline tickets to surprise him with a visit today. Instead, he surprised us! Quite well till the last five days of his life, he entered into his heavenly reward. After a brief struggle, surrounded by loving family, he worshipped His Lord Jesus, whispering St. Paul’s “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course…” and singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
For those who do not know the name, John Richard is my father. Please visit our website to enjoy the obituary of this amazing servant of His Lord Jesus. You can also hear his decades-long, daily family prayer. Let us know on the response card if you would like a bookmark with the prayer. Upon reading his “Lessons I have Learned from the Lord” on the site, a friend wrote:
I know from experience some of what you are going through Ramesh. What I never experienced was a father like yours…thank you for sharing John’s 9 points to live by. I read every word and saved it as a treasure. Now, I know you better…you are truly a chip off the old block, yet you built on his shoulders and continue to build on the enablement of the Holy Spirit. God bless you and your life ahead. I know how proud your earthly father must have been of you…love, in Christ, CL.
John Richard’s Ongoing Legacy
I grapple with the memory of his remarkable life, but more importantly I am also seized by his model of life. I did not start his book Five Smooth Stones till last week. After all, why read the book when the author is still around? Finishing that rich devotional today, I wrote in its flyleaf, “Lord make me a holy man, a humble man, and a happy man… like my dad.” I also wrote a note to him in the birthday card I had bought—as though he were still with us—thanking him for his encouragement and example.
My first journal entry after hearing he died? “I want to live like my dad and die like my dad.”
It is his example, especially in ministry, that I reflect in this communication to you. An outpouring of reflection is featured on his “remembrance wall” on our website. If you wish, you can add to it! He personally influenced many, many people across the world in a godly way—but also organizationally, in a strategic way.
The week of his death, I had the honor of addressing 150+ ministries at the historic National Missions Consultation in India—many of which connected back to organizations that he started. Missions leaders doing breathtaking things discussed synergy, strategy and transformation. The socio-cultural-religious challenges in India have been consistent over the centuries, except now new regressive political stances and progressive economic realities require reflective action of a different quality and scale.
The consultation reflected my dad’s collaboration conviction: “More can be done by a few if we go together into an unknown future.” Thank you for helping me serve the incredible land of my birth of 1.3 billion, soon to be the most populated nation on earth. Pray with me about whether I should be further involved in this great initiative.
iPro Mission Update
My personal proclamation, our iPro (I Proclaim) Mission currently serves as the mainstay of the ministry.
A friend put me up for six nights in a wealthy but isolated Middle Eastern land to begin the writing of a book. The break was too short, especially since I had to take the middle two days to reach expatriates at a “Trusted Friend to Trusted Friend” (TF2TF) private dinner. Their spiritual hunger in this alien land was intense. About five young, dynamic couples embraced God’s good news without qualms or conditions. We are keeping in touch with them through informal and formal follow-up.
There too, I spoke at a fledgling enterprise tasked with strengthening pastoral leaders from disparate nations and denominations who serve as bi-vocational shepherds. They had gathered to find ways to be a blessing in their host-land while serving believers and reaching people from their native lands. Pray with me about whether I should further guide this initiative.
I have now returned to the classroom at Dallas Seminary teaching basic courses on the spiritual life and evangelism. Sometimes I think I reflect the charter, the DNA of the founder of Dallas Seminary, in teaching these two courses. Himself an evangelist, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer wanted a curriculum built on the Bible with “utmost importance given to the student’s spiritual life.” Pray for my classroom impact on the next generation, especially at this top-tier school in my wonderful adoptive land. My students are few, but they are outstanding young lives—committed to God and focused toward the future. I have offered to switch ages with them, but no one is taking me up on it!
God has been opening unusual platforms for evangelizing opinion leaders as well. In addition to the TF2TF Middle Eastern dinner, the wedding in New Delhi of a friend’s daughter gave me the privilege of addressing about 200 pre-Christian friends with God’s glad tidings. A Dallas-based company opened up their Chennai, India, staff of 35 (34 of whom would be pre-faith) for an impromptu pre-evangelistic presentation. In Syracuse, New York, at the first of four memorial services for my dad, a number of prominent pre-Christian leaders from India, whom he had befriended, responded to my invitation to trust the Lord Jesus Christ—all in the middle of the shock and sorrow at his sudden departure. My sister and her husband are following up with friendship hospitality toward them.
Our iPro Mission undergirds the GPro (Global Proclamation) Commission distribution platform that we have built and provide to hundreds of pastoral training organizations. Week by week, we document thousands of pastoral leaders being strengthened through this platform, for their success and fruitfulness for Christ.
We are expectantly setting up for this June’s Global Proclamation Academy in Dallas. Pray for the best 25 pastors from the right 25 countries at this time when visas are hard to obtain even for the most qualified. Pray for the funding to be secured for their three weeks in Dallas. You might know that we have a 100 percent return rate! Few programs have that kind of advantage to offer.
National GPAs are rapidly multiplying pastors and trainers of pastors. We have an ambitious goal of 25 countries in 2018. Three have already taken place in DR Congo, St. Lucia, and another one in Zambia. In 2017, we launched 17 countries, a huge jump from the 10 of 2015.
If you know the Congolese situation, filled with war, politics, murder and rampant corruption, you will also acknowledge the God who pulled off what we nearly canceled: 30 young, pastoral leaders got together for 10 days of instruction and interaction. One wrote, “God gave us courage, and today we are celebrating the greatness of God.” Another believes the GPA is “a new platform to change and continue to change the ministerial mindset of church leaders as a new generation of ministers is being raised to meet community needs and challenge the status quo in churches.”
Our 2016–2020 follow-up system includes the newly inaugurated GProLearning.org featuring 5,500 pastoral training resources in 13 languages, collated and curated from around the world. Wow! You are a part of a major movement forward for the Gospel, my friends and supporters.
A Balancing Act
So I once again need your help, and in an ongoing manner, too. Some who read this letter might wish to give regularly to (or even take care of) 2018’s budget ($2.53m), or my iProMission ($440k) or the GProCommission ($1.38m). Other friends have a heart as big as God’s for the world and will give what all they are able in prayerful, planned, and proportionate ways.
Whatever, whenever and however you give does not undermine the uniqueness, the preciousness, and the strategic usefulness of your gift. We will put it to right use for the sake of the only Sovereign, whose only Son is the only Savior of the world, and the only Shepherd of His sheep.
Our organizational word for 2018 is BALANCING! For those who know what a Bosu ball is, my trainer makes me balance on the hard platform of an inflated rubber hemisphere, saying, “Strengthen your core, and the extremities will function well.” I invite you to strengthen our iProMission core with your prayer-filled generosity to improve RREACH’s balance so the entire GProCommission continues to function well.
In the Inexhaustible One,
P.S. I ended last weekend’s memorial services with my dad’s saying: “So much to be done, for so many, with so little, in such a short time, by so few!” With a very high view of time, work, responsibility and mission, he would want me to continue casting the vision to you, the few, calling you to join us in the opportunities of reaching the many. And that I shall continue to do till I cannot. I invite you to be part of the few who would strengthen our core to reach the many.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ramesh Richard serves as President of RREACH, a global proclamation ministry, and Professor of Global Theological Engagement and Pastoral Ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary.