Blog


Everybody Loves a Good Parade!

Posted by on 3:34 pm in Ecuador, State Side | 1 comment

Everybody Loves a Good Parade!

Easter is a really big deal here in Ecuador – as it should be. On Palm Sunday, I happened to be in Quito with my nephew and we decided to visit one of our favorite places, the Basílica del Voto Nacional. It’s listed as the largest cathedral in the Americas, a truly awe inspiring work of art and devotion. As we walked up, a parade was about to start. We of course bought some palm branches and joined in the procession. Like the first Palm Sunday parade, it started as a celebration with colorful costumes, music, and everyone waving palm branches. And like the first Palm Sunday, it didn’t occur to me at that moment that this parade would end up as a “Via Dolorosa” mourning march right down the center aisle of the cathedral. The culmination of the procession was Jesus holding baby Jesus. Unfortunately it was just a statue, although I believe He really was there. Some folks didn’t seem to realize it was a statue. They caressed the babies foot with such love, devotion, and respect. An ancient grandma with tears in her ears, pressed in with her baby grandson, together they touched His foot – a photo too awesome to take with a mortal camera. Thoughts and emotions overwhelmed me. With a family of strangers, I drank in the sacred moment, shared in the mourning – and prayed… Prayed for a divine understanding of who Jesus is – for myself, for those in that cathedral, and for those around the world who are seeking Him and also for those who are still crucifying Him. Easter is the pivot point, the door of eternity, the intersection of all mankind. The consequences of missing it for a parade, a statue, an egg hunt or any other billion reasons is impossible to comprehend. The only description would be the absence of life. If you’ve ever seen someone in the throws of depression – where they can’t talk or eat or see any sign of hope, that’s close. Easter is the opposite – life conquering death, eternal hope – Jesus, the resurrection and the life. It really is as simple as John 11:25. We’ve muddied it up with our man-made ways, but this Easter, let’s just sit down with our Savior, let’s press in together and touch His...

read more

Euphorically Numb

Posted by on 5:58 am in State Side | 0 comments

Euphorically Numb

Ash & i are still a bit numb from yesterday. You remember the mythical Clearing House Sweepstakes guy – that guy you hope will just show up at your door with a giant check?! Well, it kind of happened to us. We were part of a celebration in Birmingham marking the 100th Anniversary of the Assemblies of God in Alabama (that’s the family of churches that we’re a part of, 370 in AL & more than 12,000 in the US). It was an amazing day full of challenge & excitement. The place was packed with Leadership and Missionaries from around the world, and with hundreds & hundreds of people who are passionate about reaching the world with God’s love. It was so much more than a celebration of the past – more like a slow motion explosion into the future! In the middle of this ‘explosion’ – time stopped. Ashley & I were called to the stage. Everything went fuzzy as my mind raced to think of what to say. I thought that they were going to ask us to share about the Proclaimer. (That’s the miraculous audio new testament that we’re determined to deliver to all 600 Shuar villages.) No, we weren’t asked to say anything. Instead, we were presented with a giant check. It wasn’t an urban legend or wild dream – it was real! The check is to purchase a vehicle when we arrive back in Ecuador. It was made possible because of a program called Speed The Light. STL is the product of teenagers who raise money to supply vehicles for Missionaries worldwide. Their passion and relentless effort is directly connected to our effectiveness on the field. Our vehicle will likely be a jungle worthy 4×4 truck, but STL has provided canoes, horses, radios – whatever it takes to speed the ‘light’ of God’s love to every corner of the world! In 2014, Alabama youth raised more than a half million dollars by washing cars, cutting grass, babysitting, even hitting golf balls (ask me about that)! We are grateful for each one and also for our Alabama District Youth Director, Steve Mason. He and his staff lead the way – real world changers! We’re hoping to return to the jungle this summer, just need to raise a little more to sustain our mission for the next three years. We’ll be sure to update you on the STL vehicle purchase, as well as the progress of the Shuar Proclaimer Project. THANK YOU for your interest, prayers, and concern for us and all our Missionary families. If you would like to be a part of our monthly support team, just email us, CLICK HERE, or go to our ‘give’ page in the above menu. Blessins’ to y’all – now let’s go spread some...

read more

A Not So Good Friday

Posted by on 10:59 pm in Ecuador, Front Page, Matt's Posts | 2 comments

A Not So Good Friday

      On Good Friday, one year ago, a desperate father named Bolivar and his daughter, Dominga, set out on a journey from the deepest corner of the Ecuadorian jungle. They were in a life & death search for a miracle. She was spitting up blood, her abdomen swollen, her body was battling a mysterious illness. They are Acshuar Indians. A remote, indigenous people who fiercely resist all advances of civilization. After three days on the trail trudging through dense jungle, up & over mountains, raging rivers, & knee high mud, they finally reached the Shuar village of Paantin. They had heard stories of a well-known witch doctor who lives there. He was their last hope. Surely, he could cure her with ancient chants and remedies; surely, he could break the curse that was stealing away her life. Although this village has no electricity, no roads, no stores, and certainly no hospital, it does have a church. The little wooden structure on the far end of a muddy soccer field is called Centro Cristiano de Paantin. Several years earlier, in a completely different corner of the jungle, a young Shuar man named Umberto had a divine lifesaving encounter with the Creator of Universe. God reached down and gave him a second chance. Umberto made the best of that second chance by studying to be a pastor through our ‘mother’ church here in Sucua. Upon completion, he agreed to uproot his family of nine and move them across the jungle to pastor a new mission’s church in the middle of nowhere, a place called Paantin. Easter night, Bolivar & Dominga arrived in Paantin only to find that the witch doctor was not there. Covered in mud, drenched in sweat and despair, their journey appeared to be in vain. God had other plans. Pastor Umberto was there to greet them. He introduced them to the Healer, to the One who holds eternity in His palm. In the midst of their deepest agony, they heard and believed for the first time in a Savior who went to the cross then miraculously rose from the grave so they too could overcome death. On the night of Easter, they learned of their eternal home, but time was quickly running out for Dominga, she needed immediate medical attention. Pastor Umberto lead them on the daylong journey out of Paantin to Sucua. They arrived Monday night at our new hospital, the same one where Zak was treated after falling out of the truck last year. I wish there was another way to end this story – that somehow I could change the outcome with mere words. Dominga took her last breathe Tuesday morning. A few hours later my missionary brothers and I were wrapping her body in a sheet as her father wailed inconsolable in his native tongue. I will never forget him trying to clean the mud from her feet, barely dry from the jungle trail. As we placed her in a tiny coffin, he insisted we include her blanket that still carried the smoky smell of her family hut. He desperately ‘fought’ for every last second to be with his baby, like a bear clawing to get to its cub. How do you say goodbye to your child? Why didn’t God answer my...

read more

The Shuar Proclaimer Project

Posted by on 11:17 pm in Ecuador, Front Page, Matt's Posts | 1 comment

The Shuar Proclaimer Project

In 2008, while on a construction trip for the Hope House in Ecuador, Missionary Joil Marbut carefully aimed a question at me, “Matt, would you consider coming down here, I need your help, there are 600 Shuar villages that have never heard the gospel”? (the gospel is simply, the good news of God’s love) That question hit a bullseye deep in my heart. Yes, I felt the conviction and urgency, but how in the world does one take on that challenge?! While passing thru New Mexico two years later, God began orchestrating His plan in the form of a little solar powered box called a Proclaimer. It’s an audio New Testament produced by an amazing company called, “Faith Comes By Hearing”. We  ‘just happened’ to meet and they ‘just happened’ to be working on the very language of the indigenous people we were going to work with! What’s the odds of that – 6,000 languages, Ecuador jungle, Albuquerque desert & the Shuar?! We joined arms with FCBH and now, after 4 years of praying it thru, the Shuar Proclaimer is a reality. We have ‘planted’ forty in villages throughout the jungle and fifty more will be arriving any day. Eventually, we will reach our goal of planting a Proclaimer in all 600 Shuar villages. Why is this a big deal? For most of them, this will be the first time ever that they hear God’s message of love, hope, peace, & eternal life – in their language! An entire generation of elderly Shuar are quickly passing on, most aren’t able to read and many don’t understand Spanish. We must reach them now. I wish you could personally see how they huddle around it, so mesmerized by hearing their language come out of a little box. And to think, the first words they are hearing is God’s Word! Please pray for the safety of our team and for a warm welcome (that’s kind of important!). We’re in the process of teaming up with Speed The Light to see this project through. They will help us purchase the Proclaimers, then it’s just a matter of about $150. for our team to deliver it to each village. Message, call, or email us if you would like more information about sponsoring a village. They would be very excited to know someone in a whole different hemisphere cares about them. Also, if you would like to see a Proclaimer in person, it would be an honor to visit you while we’re in the States. We’ll be available from this July until Spring 2015. ALSO, great news – the Proclaimer is now ready in Achuar! They are an indigenous people that have entrenched themselves deep into the jungle beyond Shuar territory. They are are even more solitary and resistant to the outside world than the Shuar, but divine connections are being made and our Shuar Pastors are anxious to visit them. You may have read the story of an Achuar man named Bolivar and his daughter, Dominga. (Click here if you haven’t.) We’ll keep you updated on how that story continues to unfold. THANK YOU for your interest and concern. May this Easter stir your heart in a new & deeper way – God bless! — with Ashley Matt Richardson....

read more

The Machete Incident Pt. II

Posted by on 3:21 pm in Ecuador, Front Page, Matt's Posts | 3 comments

The Machete Incident Pt. II

Part I precedes this, you may want to read that first – click here. … what seemed like my for sure ‘salvation’, was only a mirage. The guys continued to half drag & carry me up to the Police truck, but the crowd had quickly grown to about 50 and they were not just going to hand me over. When the police got out of their truck, they were quickly surrounded and afraid for their lives. They are Ecuadorians in Shuar territory with a long history of fear and distrust between them. Not long ago, four policemen showed up in a nearby village to quell a disturbance and were all shot. The young couple who I had lunch with earlier that day, Umberto & Georgina, rushed up on the scene. They both fought through the crowd to assure them that I was not there to cut-off any heads, nor to buy any, but with a mob, the truth doesn’t matter much. Georgina was 6 months pregnant, but even so, she was knocked around and shoved away but she was relentless in my defense. With her latched on my arm screaming for my release, four guys began to drag me away from the police and up into the jungle. I snuck a look behind and saw a wild eyed elderly man following with a machete to my back. I later learned that he was the father of the three brothers who had already struck me. All the things I’ve ever heard about your life ‘flashing’ before your eyes in moments like this, well it is somewhat true. Of course I was thinking of my wife and 3 children and that I’d really like to see them again. I had a little conversation with my brother Terry. Something like, “well bro, looks like I may be seeing you a little quicker than expected”. (Terry died in a motorcycle accident this past May while returning from a fund raiser that provides motorcycles to pastors & missionaries in the jungle. He was hoping to hand deliver some next summer to Ecuador.) Was this really how it was going to go down – was this it? I tried not to think about what it might feel like, then a deep peace surrounded me. (Ashley said she felt the same.) It was okay. All that my Mom & Dad & family & friends & life experiences had poured into me for 44 years, now made perfect sense. I felt a sense of purpose and was as prepared as I could be if I was in fact, about to step into the unknown. Then, just at the moment of this reckoning, one of the guys says something like, “no, let’s do this in front of everybody, let’s make a spectacle of him”. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but they turned me around and pushed me down the hill towards the crowd & police truck. I put my back up against the truck. The crowd was shouting at the officers, it was still very chaotic. And then, for the first time in over an hour, I had separation – no one was touching me, so I jumped in the backseat of the police truck and locked the doors. The officers were eventually able to...

read more

The Machete Incident Pt.I

Posted by on 7:29 pm in Ecuador, Front Page, Matt's Posts | 7 comments

The Machete Incident Pt.I

The Monday morning of September 19th started out fairly normal except for the fact that it was our first day of doing homeschool with Sophia & Zak. If you told me I’d be in the “dog house” by nightfall, I’d be the first to say, “yah, I probably deserve that”! But a night in jail? – that was definitely not on my radar! Here’s how it all unfolded: After visiting our local clinic, a young Shuar man knocked on our gate hoping I could help he and his wife get back to their village, Untunkus Norte. She had given birth two weeks prior and was not ready for the two hour trek up hill. For $5, a taxi truck can make it in about 20 minutes, so I called for one, we piled in and I put my bike in the back for the downhill ride home. It was a perfect opportunity to visit with several families who live there, most of them are related to Pastor Eduardo who is an integral part of our ministry team. I enjoyed playing with the kids, checked on Camilo’s new baby boy, shucked some of Umberto’s corn, then had a delicious lunch of cow intestines, corn & yucca prepared by Umberto’s wife, Georgina. We said goodbye then I headed home down the mountain with one short side visit to a neighboring village, San Jose Sur, to pray with a family whose father had just died. Between the two villages, I rode up on a teenage boy who took one look at me and started running. I didn’t get to say anything to him since he ran off so abruptly. I arrived at Carmela’s house a few minutes later and we had a great 30 minute visit as they shared stories of their father. As I chugged along the beautiful mountain road towards home, I was grinning ear to ear with joy, overwhelmed that I get to be here doing what I’m doing. This peace helped prepare me for what was waiting for me just over the next knoll. A group of about 20 people gathered in the road/path about 50 yards ahead, machetes are normal to see here, but this time was different. As I approached, it quickly became obvious that I was the subject of their interest. At first I thought they were just upset that I was in Shuar territory so I quickly explained that I was there by invitation of several Shuar who they also knew. That did not matter as it became apparent that a deeper issue was at hand. The teen age boy had run home telling his mother that I had threatened to cut off his head and that I had offered money for heads. This is a line often used to stir up trouble in the jungle because it plays on their long history of fear, superstition, and murderous ways. The boy also had mental issues and I’m sure the adults put him up to much of it. They forced him to stand face to face with me and retell his story. When I heard the phrase, “this Gringo tried to cut my head off”, I knew there was no explaining my way out of it, they were bent on revenge. The boy’s mother was...

read more

Happy Birthday to my Hero

Posted by on 5:00 pm in Ecuador, Front Page, Matt's Posts | 6 comments

Happy Birthday to my Hero

On this day, October 3rd of 1929, my hero was born. My grandmother named her Helen Rita. My Mom gave this amazing foto to my Dad in 1945, she was 16 and he was an Army Yankee boy stationed near West Palm Beach, Florida. Their paths crossed in a little church, she was playing the trumpet and he the trombone. (And 45 years later, history repeated itself as this Yankee boy was smitten by a Southern Belle singing in church!) They were married shortly after and moved to Upstate New York. A lot remains a mystery of my Mom’s childhood. I don’t think she ever met her father and why was she sent to Bible college in Minneapolis from Florida at the age of 13?! During a college recess, this gutsy young lady took a train all by herself to Coney Island to surprise her Mom, only to find out that the surprise was on her. Four Filipino children opened the door, her mom had gotten married and they were her new brothers & sisters! Then at sixty-two, she found out that the name she used as her father’s all her life wasn’t even her father. In between these events, she went through 12 pregnancies, raised 7 sons, 2 daughters, & 29 grandchildren, while managing to stay married 50 years to my father, (perhaps her greatest accomplishment!) working full time as a nurse for over 30 years, and picking thousands of quarts of strawberries! BUT……. …her most awesome accomplishment was instilling in her children a desire to follow Christ – no matter what! She never wavered, even in the face of death itself. The devil tried over and over to steal her joy, but she did not cave. I was with her in that little hospice room in November ’97 when she breathed her last breath. “Hallelujah”, was the last word to pass from her lips. She finally made it home to meet her REAL Father, face to face! My Mom introduced me to missions before i can remember. Praying for & supporting missionaries was a big part of her life. I will never forget her bedside table with a glass top covering pictures of all “her Missionaries”. She was never able to go herself, but what she accomplished around the world on her knees and with her sacrificial giving, is written in the heavens. We are here in Ecuador today because of the seeds my Mom planted in me, then continued to cultivate throughout my life. I draw from her strength daily. You may not have a hero in your life like my Mom and you may not even know who your dad is, but you can make it – IF you let the life of Christ be the example you follow. With Him and thru the Holy Spirit, we can overcome all things, we can impact our world, and in the end, (which is really just the beginning) we get to meet our REAL Dad – face 2 face! Now let’s go get ‘er...

read more

My Brother the Legend

Posted by on 2:53 am in Costa Rica, Front Page, Matt's Posts | 2 comments

My Brother the Legend

“Your brother Terry was a legend”! That was a comment i heard from a young boy that goes to the school where my brother worked. Over 600 people gathered in Fulton, New York last Saturday to mourn his death but more importantly, to celebrate his life. As each person honored and shared memories, a common thread began to emerge. It was, ‘The Transformation of Terry Richardson”.  In his younger days, Terry was a strong, motorcycle driving tough guy who usually called his own shots. In his death, Terry was a strong, motorcycle driving tough guy who had submitted his life to Christ. He started out kind of rough, but he finished incredibly strong. The accident occurred as he rode home with friends from the Christian Motorcycle Association after a community outreach project. That was Terry, he loved to serve God and others, whether that was a child at Lanigan Elementary School or a complete stranger overcome with despair after Hurricane Katrina. We’ll never know all the lives he touched, he never sought recognition. In fact, he donated his organs which the doctor said will help more than 50 people. My brother was even cool when he was doing one of his ‘corny’ pranks. Last year, while showing my kids around the fields of our old family farm, a strange Sasquatch like sound kept bellowing through the woods all around us. Terry must have ran (& crawled) 5 miles through thick brush to have pulled off that lil’ stunt. He was never one to pass up a prime opportunity to scare someone or to make a lasting impression. The greatest impression he left us was the way in which he lived for God wholeheartedly without coming across as a religious nut. He was the real deal, nothing fancy, he spoke the truth and lived it too. What i’m going to miss most are the times that we were planning for. He had big plans to join us in Ecuador to deliver some motorcycles to Pastors in remote locations who need transportation. Of course i’m going to carry on with the plan, that’s how we honor those who have gone before us, we carry on in their honor & to honor God. “Terry, we’ll try not to cry too long, we know we gotta get back on that bike and...

read more

Random Acts of Dumbness

Posted by on 6:37 am in Costa Rica, Matt's Posts | 4 comments

Random Acts of Dumbness

How do we know if God is real? Do we see Him in action, do we have no doubt? That question was answered one more time today in the middle of a “Random Act of Dumbness”! We’re counting down our days in Costa Rica – just not sure how many yet because our visa process is IN process and we can’t make plans or buy plane tixs for Ecuador until it’s complete. No worries – here’s what Ash & i did today to help the process along: on the way home from the Ecuador embassy, we lost all our visa documents and didn’t even realize it until 4 hours later! In a controlled panic, we began to retrace our steps. It seemed futile though since we had trapsed all over the city. BUT then we realized our worst fear – did we leave it on the bus?! Futile just turned to IMPOSSIBLE! There are buses everywhere going every different direction. What did ours look like, have the drivers changed shifts?! Yay – it was pretty much an impossible situation – except that God loves to show up in the middle of ‘impossible’ situations! We sat on a curb for 45 minutes feeling foolish. Our only hope was to possibly spot a bus from our route so i could ask the driver if there was some sort of ‘lost & found’. (not even sure if that translates or how to ask it!) Then IT happened – a bus pulls up right in front of us & yep, you guessed it – same bus, same driver! Our papers were on his dash, someone had handed them to him. God’s real – no doubt!!! I definitely have more faith tonight then i had when i woke up this morning. Enjoy your journey – believe God for something “impossible’ today and try not too commit too many R.A.D.’s ! (sign up for an E-letter on our blog/homepage if you like –...

read more

Georgia Packers

Posted by on 7:38 am in State Side | 0 comments

Georgia Packers

“Go Georgia Packers”! Perception & reality seem to seldom match. Some Missionary friends stopped by today to catch the Packers&Bears game. NFL commentary in Spanish can be funny – but what’s funnier is Karley commentary (our 13 yr old). She kept making a big deal about wanting the Packers to win. She’s not into the NFL & I didn’t know she even knew who the Packers were, so I finally  asked, “why do want the Packers to win”? “Because they’re from Georgia and Georgia is close to Alabama”, was her enthusiastic reply. Of course we all busted out in hysterics, I could have used a couple puffs of albuterol! Well, at least she recognized the “G’, just the wrong color & league! Going with what we ‘think’ we know can really get us into trouble sometimes. Usually, it just leaves us a little embarrassed. I’m getting a daily dose of that as we are trying to learn Spanish here in Costa Rica. Just today, we stopped at a little Mexican Restaurant and I confidently ordered lunch for Sophia (in Spanish). What arrived on her plate & what I thought was going to arrive, were not remotely related! Many have paid a much greater price for their false perceptions, like this guy from Newton, NC.  Kenneth Charles Barger, 47, awoke to the sudden sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead his Smith & Wesson .38 Special which he kept on the bedside table next to the phone. The gun apparently discharged as he drew it to his ear thinking it was the phone. Please don’t get your S&W confused with your phone! Even more importantly, we need to be careful about our spiritual perceptions. Getting it wrong there could leave us paying for a loooooooooong time. Let’s pull out our bibles and get a good dose of reality. Romans 8, Proverbs 3,...

read more