Living the Legacy

by | Sep 30, 2017 | 1 comment

By: Paul Richardson

Is there a more challenging place to grow up than the rain forest of Papua New Guinea? Well, let me tell you about a place where nothing comes easy. The environment is thorny, steamy, and relentlessly buzzing with mosquitoes. The swamp that surrounded our little wooden house was snake infested.  I learned as a boy to always check my shoes for scorpions before inserting my feet, a habit which I still have today. The weather offered up suffocating humidity and rain storms that lasted for weeks and flooded our little world.  We couldn’t go anywhere beyond the front door without a canoe. Having no electricity, mom cooked all our meals over a wood fire. Four native villages stood within walking distance, and the headhunters who lived there served up an unpredictable smorgasbord of adventure and intrigue, sometimes even fighting their battles on the grass that surrounded our home.

The environment is thorny, steamy, and relentlessly buzzing with mosquitoes. The swamp that surrounded our little wooden house was snake infested.  I learned as a boy to always check my shoes for scorpions before inserting my feet, a habit which I still have today. The weather offered up suffocating humidity and rain storms that lasted for weeks and flooded our little world.  We couldn’t go anywhere beyond the front door without a canoe. Having no electricity, mom cooked all our meals over a wood fire. Four native villages stood within walking distance, and the headhunters who lived there served up an unpredictable smorgasbord of adventure and intrigue, sometimes even fighting their battles on the grass that surrounded our home.

legacyBut wait! Don’t start feeling pity for my brothers and me. We wouldn’t trade our childhood for the world. The jungle was our paradise; a place of hunting, paddling and swimming. Every afternoon, mom walked home from her medical clinic and dad returned from his work in the villages. Our family swam together in the river that flowed in front of our house. That swim doubled as our bath, as we had no indoor toilet or shower. Coming home, we enjoyed dinner together, often enjoying catfish from the river or wild boar meat from a jungle hunt.

After dinner, we gathered in the tiny living room for family devotions. Dad sometimes led the discussion, but he taught us to think for ourselves. I still have a cassette tape that recorded my squeaky 4-year-old voice explaining how Daniel ended up in a lion’s den. Those precious evenings were totally unrushed. By the light of a kerosene lantern and the roar of cicadas in the jungle, we talked, laughed, shared and listened to God’s word until someone started yawning.

Our family had no television. Instead, we memorized countless passages of Scripture together. It wasn’t pressured or stressful memorization. It was fun. As a little boy growing up at the end of the world, I awoke into the realization that God is good, and that He is on my side. I still recall the evening I recited Psalm 23 to my family. Mom explained that God is my Shepherd and He will always take care of me, ensuring that I have everything I need. She wanted me to understand what it means for God to refresh my soul. At times my life would pass through intense valleys of hardship, pain, and danger, she said, and yet in those places, I would always come upon a feast in the presence of my enemies.

As a boy, I had few toys. But I had an awesome childhood. I know what it means to be buffeted at the convergence of hardship and love. Surrounded by hunger, disease, danger and societal chaos, I was being spiritually fed and nourished so richly that I can only look back and thank God for where I came from. This is why I am committed to the work that Mustard Seed has been doing for decades. Lilian Dickson’s ministry in Taiwan engaged the poorest and most disenfranchised children in some of the most challenging places on earth.

Mustard Seed International Legacy

Here I am now, living in the same islands where I lived as a child. The kids here don’t need our pity. Frankly, they don’t even need handouts. They’ve already learned how to scratch, steal and claw for a morsel of food. What they really need is what I was given as a child. A loving and Christ-centered learning environment that forges faith within them, giving them the chance to rise up and become godly men and women who activate transformative change in their own villages.

With all my heart, thank you for your prayers and support for the ministry of Mustard Seed.

1 Comment

  1. HELEN LING

    Dear Paul. Thank you for the reminder of your life as a child in Papua New Guinea. I also remember and thank the Lord for the privilege and joy He gave me when I spent a few weeks with Winston and Karina Ling and Mark Dearborn a number of years ago and we had the privilege of seeing the wonderful ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ through Mustard Seed at the Transformation School. Many years ago when Rev. Edward Ling (my father-in-law} was active with Mustard Seed in Taiwan and Papua New Guinea I had the joy of meeting Lillian Dickson in Taiwan. I have met you on a number of occasions. God bless you as you continue to do the will of the Lord in Papua New Guinea and throughout Asia where God sends you to work. Love in the Lord HELEN LING

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *