Don Richardson

14) The Last Bit: A Tribute to Don Richardson (by Danny Lehmann)

I (Doug)met Don Richardson once. He spoke at a missions conference at which I was also a guest speaker. I remember distinctly how interested he was in the work that I did. He commented a LOT about Brigada — and voiced real enthusiasm for it, by the way. He seemed really interested in what I was doing — which, to be honest, was humbling, disarming, and sobering — because, he seemed so SMART. When he spoke, I had that feeling that I should write down every line, because seemingly every line was stacked full of so much wisdom. We recently saw this tribute, written by Danny Lehmann. (Thanks for sharing it, Randy!) So we tracked down Danny and asked if he would grant permission for us to share it in Brigada. He readily agreed, saying that “anything that would glorify the Lord and honor Don would be great.” So here’s his tribute, originally shared on Dec. 27, at 7:57pm.

“Don Richardson, who was promoted to Glory on December 23, 2018, has left us with a legacy that all those of us who are involved in world missions would be wise to emulate.

“First, Don was a missionary. In 1962, he and his wife, Carol, packed up and set sail for Irian Jaya (now known as Western Papua) to share the Gospel with the cannibalistic and headhunting Sawi tribe. In a few years there was a breakthrough through Don’s discovery that the “Peace Child” analogy as an interest door for winning this tribe to Christ.

“Second, Don was a strategist. Following his success with the Sawi people, his research showed that as Paul “became all things to all men” (1 Corinthians 9) he was able to show many examples of “redemptive analogies” within many cultures that could serve as bridges for other missionaries to use as they “contextualized” the gospel to the people they were seeking to reach

“Third, he was not only a linguist in the technical sense of the word, but also created a popular language bridging the theological world to the missiological world. Phrases such as “The 4,000-year Connection,” “Top-line/Bottom-line Blessings”, “Redemptive Analogies, Concept Fulfillment, “Finding the Eye Opener” and others have enlightened the missions movement worldwide with greater understanding on how to reach unreached peoples.

“Fourth, Don was an apologist. He was able to go toe-to-toe with those in the secular anthropological world against accusations that missionaries destroyed cultures. He eloquently reported the opposite, demonstrating that the data showed that more often than not the presence of missionaries caused not only salvation, but human flourishing in the majority of cases. His research was backed up by a ten-year study by Baylor University Professor Robert Woodberry in 2012.

“Fifth, Don was a theologian. In response to the new breed of atheists he wrote “Unhidden” to demonstrate that God has indeed made the revelation of Himself plain to the world (Romans 1). To the new progressive theologians who were promoting a new form of Universalism He responded with “Heaven Wins” and showed from Scripture that while God is incredibly merciful and there will very likely be more people in heaven than many think there will indeed be a judgement day.

“For those interested in drinking from the deep well of Don’s work may I recommend “Peace Child”, “Lords Of The Earth”, “Secrets Of The Koran” and especially his epic “Eternity In Their Hearts”.” [end]

Thanks again to Danny for his willingness to include his tribute here. Don Richardson has passed on to the next life, but his impact here will never be forgotten. Ever.

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