Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

New Jersey Conference, Aubrey N. Richards

From Farmer to Mentoring Disciple-Makers

Story by Mario Thorp

Aubrey N. Richards was a farmer, butcher and a man of God who sold beef and chicken at the central market of Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. He loved his church and was passionate about sharing Jesus. Richards and his wife, Ella, had seven children. They both shared a burning desire to see the young grow and thrive in their walk with Jesus.

As one of the elders of a church plant in the community of Cieneguita, Richards started a church plant/disciple-making mentoring initiative with elders Delroy Hadden and Carl Simpson. The program consisted of mentoring a group of early teens and teenagers in their walk with Christ and missionary activities. For about four years, every Sabbath and Wednesday they took the youth to targeted communities.

After preaching and conducting Bible studies in the community, Richards talked to the group about the logistics of reaching every home for Jesus and evaluated their performance in Bible study and preaching. The remarkable outcome of that initiative was that, at the end of the fourth year, there was a new congregation in the targeted community.

I was one of the young people he mentored. This experience was my strongest training as a missionary and where my love for evangelism was born. As I reflect on the work that Richards and his associates did, it is obvious that it was based on Matthew 28:19–20 to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (NKJV).

They understood that the commission to go, mentor and make disciples came from Jesus. This commitment to service resulted in new church plants.

The elders believed that making disciples involves a mentoring roadmap—a process to help believers grow spiritually through the phases of church planting. There are at least four steps in this disciple-making road map:

1. Meet the people in your community, mingle with them and be their friend.

2. Give Bible studies constantly. Those involved will inevitably grow, and the student will grow as well. The only requirement for success is for the instructor to be Spirit-filled, with a life submerged in the Word. You need to know the Bible message of love and its Author personally.

3. Surrender to the life of a passionate missionary. Serve the people, love the people, so that your influence will inspire others to be contagious Christians.

4. Purposefully nurture disciple-makers based on 2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (NKJV).

As a mentee of Richards, I was constantly reminded, “It is not enough to be a disciple; you must be a disciple-maker.” 

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