The Richardson’s have served as missionaries to Mexico since 1993. Their family is committed not only to sharing the truth of salvation revealed in God’s Word but also to helping families grow in their faith as well as their love for the Lord.
At a conference in Tennessee, the Richardson’s met a man from Mexico and shared a meal with him and some of their friends. After the meal, the brother from Mexico told their friends, “I like that family. I wish they’d come and work with our church in Mexico.” The Richardsons’ friend replied, “Ask them.” And he did. The Richardson’s returned to their home in Atlanta, promising to pray and respond.
Soon after, the Richardson’s visited this man’s church in Monterrey, believing God might be calling them to this work. The elders of that church confirmed that leading, and asked the Richardson’s to come. In that sense, the Richardson’s were not “sent” to Mexico; they were “called.”
Having passed the CPA exam in the 1980’s, Mike left corporate life as the CFO of a boat anchor and boat trailer manufacturer and moved to Mexico a mere fifteen days after making a decision to go to Mexico. They have been serving the Lord there, as missionaries, since then and continue living and working in Mexico to this day.
After a couple years of working in Monterrey, Mike took to heart a message given by a pastor there that the Gospel needs to be preached to those who have not heard. The Richardson’s now live and work near the village of Baratillo, Coahuila, Mexico. At seven thousand five hundred feet above sea level, Baratillo is nestled near the top of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Since the village is sparsely populated, it will never be a large church but its members love the Lord and serve him with a whole heart. Mike is the pastor of La Iglesia de Baratillo—a small rural church that the Richardson’s founded in 1998.
There is no electricity or running water in large parts of this valley. In order to spend more time in the valley, the Richardson’s rebuilt an old log cabin and moved into the village. After living in the cabin for seven years, they were able to buy their own land and build their own house. The Richardsons’ electricity is generated by solar panels, and they use satellite for internet access.
The Richardsons’ work is multifaceted. In addition to their traditional missionary work in evangelism, preaching, teaching, and church planting, they have also helped Christian parents train their children through the publication of printed and recorded materials about home education. They began national home education conferences throughout Mexico. With the growth of the home education movement in Latin America, Mike has now shifted his focus to helping others organize conferences while he focuses on speaking, teaching and writing.
Several years ago, Mike was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and Ankyloses Spondylitis. Throughout the years he has had times of significant struggle as well as times of stability. Despite these issues, perhaps because of them, he continues to share the gospel with those around him. At a particularly vulnerable point in his struggles when he felt defenseless, frail, and weak Mike wrote:
On one hand, this is very easy to share because it shows the strength and grace of the Lord and how he has chosen to be strength in my weakness. On the other hand, it is hard for me to openly share some of these struggles.
I trust you will accept this writing as it was intended. First, to show what a good God we serve—a God whose mercies are new every morning—a God who gives grace for whatever situation we find ourselves in—a God who is involved in every detail of our lives. Second, I share this information so that those who pray for us will be able to do so more effectively.
I have been losing balance, coordination, and muscle strength. While these are not always present, they are becoming more consistent. Many times as I am walking, I will bump a wall or stagger and wobble a little. I am no longer able to do the level of physical labor that I once was able to do. Working in the heat or sun saps my strength quicker than anything else; after just a little while my energy and stamina are gone. I used to say that most of my symptoms were inside and that someone looking at me would think that I was healthy and normal. With the loss of balance and coordination, that is no longer the case.
My arms and especially my legs, just don’t work quite the way that they should. Many times, right after I stand up, my legs will buckle and I will stumble—sometimes falling. After a few minutes, they will work more or less normally.
I have lost some high-tone hearing. Pam has noticed that our kids all talk very loud. Perhaps the reason is that they want their Daddy to hear them!
My vision has begun to dim. Over the last few years my peripheral vision has been reduced. It is a constant reminder that I must look straight ahead toward that high calling in Christ.
Fatigue has become a consistent and constant symptom. It is now my constant companion. It has become my friend; my friend that reminds me to slow down and enjoy my children as they grow ever so fast; my friend that reminds me to make sure that I use my time and energy wisely, making them count for eternity; my friend that reminds me that I serve a God that giveth and giveth grace. James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore, he says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Despite these things, God is continuing to work in mighty ways here in Mexico. He has proven to me time and again that his grace is sufficient and that he is strength in my weakness.
I believe that God can and does heal today, just as he did during the time that the Bible was written. I have asked the Lord for healing. His answer has consistently brought me back to the passage in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
During their first two years in Mexico, the money they received from renting their house in Georgia, their personal savings, and offerings from the church in Monterrey met their personal needs and the ministry expenses. At the end of the second year, they had less than four hundred dollars left in the bank. Though they had never sought after financial support, the Lord began to bring in the income required to carry on the work. Each year, as the work expanded, the Lord was faithful to meet all the needs, both personal and ministry-related. They have learned that God knows their needs even before they do, and He has been faithful in supplying. For the Richardson’s and Vida Nueva Ministries, it is through the giving or withholding of finances that he gives us final direction.