Nickname: Ritchie, Rick, Harjo, “that Native looking guy” (kidding….)
Things I Enjoy Doing: What I really enjoy is what the Lord is doing with our family with our two boys, my wife and I love the Lord, and the joy that there is with life. I enjoy doing and growing in the things of God, especially what is on the heart of God for people. Whether it be at a church pastoring, working in the community, or working with young people, etc. Other things I enjoy doing are more simple partly because of where we live: hiking, playing guitar, sitting around a fire with friends, grilling brauts, looking at the AZ sky at night, enjoying smooth “Cosby show jazz,” but more than all of that I really enjoy my family and what the Lord is doing with us: Amanda and our two boys Caleb and Shiloh. I thank the Lord so much for what He’s given us.
Things I Enjoy Eating: I enjoy eating all kinds of the local flavor out this way. Especially eating green and healthy.
Random Fact About Me: I still like cartoons, and one of my top favorite films is “Seven Samarai.”
My First Cruise to the Rez: I was in my senior year of bible college and I had one more semester to go. At that time it was summer. So instead of choosing a summer job, I wanted to do a third internship – in this case Shonto (not knowing then it was where I was going back to later). Anyway, they needed a summer fill-in. The pastor there had just left, so I decided to go and help. As I think of it, my first night there I felt the silence and a feeling of inadequacy. As I was taking in the gravity of the situation of what brought me there, there I was by myself sitting having dinner. And I cried. The Lord ministered to me and said, “Its you and Me, it’s the secret to minister in places like this,” and that night was like a prayer meeting with my Lord that I have never forgotten. I have to admit, that slowly sank into my spirit as I began to minister there three times a week, getting to know people and understanding that the Lord has a great plan for Shonto. You know it really does take more than us to do what we do out this way as ministers, where you are discovering constantly the needed joy and outpouring compassion to be in the hard places
Here is a Snapshot of My Testimony: You know, I was born in Corvallis, Oregon, Raised in Claremore/ Tulsa, OK, called into ministry at Pensacola, Florida at the Brownsville Revival in 98’ and went to bible college in Phoenix Arizona. Growing up, I had good parents, good sisters. I’m the middle child. In the beginning we moved around a lot. And finally Claremore, OK came. We settled. As I got older, I didn’t see a whole lot for me in leading a great life. I just wanted to “get by.” I got into drugs and the junkie culture around 8th grade and into high school. I was in and out of immoral relationships, always looking for a good time. I was always with different kinds of people and places. I often said of myself, “I’m like a walking zombie on the streets.” Many times I remember coming home late night being just out of it, and feeling like I really hated myself.
At that time my parents had come to know the Lord, and were going to church. And they wanted me to go on this charter bus trip that the church was taking to Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida. I consented because I didn’t reject God but reasoned that He wasn’t for me, or for that matter I just didn’t know where He fits at all in my life. Little did I know, we would wait in humid heat with a multitude of people in this line in our lawn chairs from 4am in the morning til’ 7pm at night when the doors opened up for the services. I waited and was prayed for in the four nights that we were there, and with this resounding question, “God, what do you want from me?” and I would hear Him in my spirit and heart saying, “I just want you, son.” Until finally the last night came, and I still did not feel like I got my answer. But I was in the back, and I just got tired of the seeking and almost left the service, then the minister there named John Kilpatrick came and put his hand on my shoulder, and before I could get the words out of my mouth “can you just pray for me?” He pointed his finger at me and said, “Go and preach the gospel to your Native people.” I fell back, filled with the Holy Spirit. I felt at long last I finally found where I belonged; the question was finally answered; the WHO I was looking for all this time loved me. Shortly after that, I went on to Bible college away from everything I know to know the Lord better for myself, and being trained to do what I’m doing now for Him in Shonto, AZ. I’ve been pastoring for almost 12 years now, and a worship leader too. But I can’t think of doing anything else with my life. God has great plans for Shonto and He is pouring out His Spirit among the Native Americans. I’m glad to be a part of that, in the harvest that’s ripe in this community, following Jesus in the joy and brokenness. Thanks for letting me share my heart.
Last Words of Encouragement: I’m so excited to be working with this team coming out here this summer. Get to know them on this blog because they have the kind of hearts that are after God’s heart for the Navajo people. Its like this “huge giant wave of compassion that is flooding the Navajo culture.” I can’t wait to see what God will do with them!”