|Missionary Update: Paul & Cyndi Richardson
Post Date: 2012-07-16 13:54:33
I`m writing to you on a reflective, cloudy, and cool morning here in Malang, our city which is cradled between three massive Javanese volcanoes. Not far away, a group of teenagers is practicing with their electric guitars, drums and keyboard to lead a worship service. In another direction I hear the voices of about 40 small children ringing out over the campus. They are singing, `Waves of mercy, waves of grace. Everywhere I look, I see His face.`
Just outside and to my left, a crew is working on the third floor of a new building on our campus. It will house our teacher training program, an early childhood ministry lab school, a resource center for students and teachers, a counseling center, eleven new classrooms, and an auditorium that will seat 350. In the years to come, the auditorium will be used to host RETHINK EDUCATION conferences for not hundreds but thousands of Indonesian teachers.
This has been the breakthrough year since our family moved to Indonesia 13 years ago. The student population at Charis will surpass 600 this year. Much like a farmer who has invested much effort into a season of plowing, planting and nurturing a crop, our ministry team is beginning to savor a season of harvest. Much of my own energy is invested in mentoring leaders, leading teams, and empowering others to rise up and advance the mission and vision in their own unique, God-given ways. My desire and mission now is to ensure that Indonesian men and women will carry on the movement until Jesus returns.
Last weekend I was involved in taking a group of 38 grade 9 Charis students on a mission trip to a Hindu village perched on the slopes of majestic Mount Bromo. Through the night, the wind howled and the temperature fell, leaving our little group of kids shivering as they slept on the floor and waited expectantly for dawn. In the morning, those same kids were ready to serve. I`ve never seen a group of 15-year-old kids embrace a challenge with such preparation, passion, initiative, character, and creativity. They seized the moment as if all the world were theirs for the taking. They spent the day teaching classes at the school, leading a chapel service, organizing engaging and creative learning activities, prayer walking the village, picking up trash, and worshipping. These students first entered Charis in grade one the year the school opened. I`ve been one of their teachers this year, so I know how passionate they are for God and for their future. But on this trip they took my heart by storm. I was startled to see how our three core values of character, leadership, and creativity blazed relentlessly in their attitudes and actions throughout the entire trip.
Every one of our students from grades 1-12 now participates in a mission trip annually, and it is immensely rewarding to hear the reports from the 12 mission trips this year. Mission trips are transformational. Our kids are learning through hands-on experience that they are blessed to become a blessing. The emphasis on mission at Charis tops off a great education with a strong emphasis on loving others and caring about what God cares about.
I`m thrilled to announce the official launching of our comprehensive strategy to bring the Kingdom of God to Indonesia. Over the last decade you have been hearing and reading about our flagship school CHARIS, and our organization Mustard Seed, which sponsors a network of schools, children`s homes, and youth ministries. In the decades to come, you will also be hearing and reading about TransformNation.
This program recruits and sponsors high school graduates from our own schools and across Indonesia, especially from rural and impoverished areas. We bring them to our city, house them in our dorm for four years, and provide them with a hybrid college education. We are just now wrapping up our first year, ready to build on all we have learned so far.
In addition to earning their Bachelor`s degree in their content area (such as English, Biology, Math, etc.), TransformNation will equip students with communication skills, expertise in teaming, computer and English development, Biblical leadership training, discipleship experience, child evangelism tranining, financial management skills, problem solving and creativity training, entrepreneurial skills, church planting, and loads more. One might call it `a new sort of seminary designed to prepare individuals to impact the world.` These emerging world-changers will be mentored to live out what they discover in the Scriptures. Everything these young men and women experience will be designed to prepare them to make a radical impact for Jesus in their own society. After four years, they will graduate and be assigned to serve as teachers in our expanding network of Mustard Seed schools across the islands. They will be what Jesus called `salt and light,` impacting the hearts, minds, and souls of thousands of Indonesian children. In the months and years to come, there will be an opportunity to sponsor one of these students as they navigate through TransformNation.
Personally, our family is doing great. Katie is now 15, Josiah 13, and Stephen 12. In the photo below, Stephen and his mom are in the animal market, and Stephen has just purchased a rabbit. Cyndi is an incredible mom. She masterfully uses her spiritual gifts and talents to teach our children and help me stay organized. She provides much administrative support for Mustard Seed and for our team. Nothing here could have been accomplished without her faithfully serving behind the scenes all these years.
There is a feeling in my heart that we have only just started. We are going to press forward. We have no intention of doing anything else until God redirects us or takes us out of this world into the next. I want to express my gratitude to you for your prayers, friendship, and generosity. All these years, God has stirred in your heart to stand with us. Occasionally I worry about the future out loud to Cyndi; after all, I`m thinking about sending three kids to college in the States. But she reminds me that God has always provided for our family`s needs. And she is spot on.
Your generosity has been such an important part of God`s provision for us. So thank you. With love and gratitude, we stand together in awe of our God and his works.
Paul Andrew Richardson
East Java, Indonesia