How do believers remain faithful to God’s calling in a world full of selfish ambition? Pastor Paul Richardson of Licking Assembly of God (Licking, Missouri) recently reminded his congregation of the importance of faithfulness using 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (ESV) as a framework. The passage reads, “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” This verse has greatly impacted his life and ministry.
Life for Paul began in Koshkonong, Missouri, close to the Arkansas state line. Local church ministry shaped him from an early age as both his parents are committed believers, and his father pastored rural churches. As a result, he and his two sisters were active in the church. Paul came to faith in Christ at an early age and would often play the piano during church services.
God also used other experiences from Paul’s childhood to shape a special calling on his life. His dad had excellent relationships with local Christian business and professional men called Gideons. He and his family attended events put on by these men for pastors and their families. Paul would also see men he recognized as visitors to his school. These local Gideons would come and gift Scriptures to him and his classmates. Paul remembers, “I received a Scripture from a Gideon in the fifth grade, and some of my friends got their first copy of God’s Word from a Gideon. I would see the men at school and think to myself: I saw you at that pastor’s event with my dad.”
“I received a Scripture from a Gideon in the fifth grade, and some of my friends got their first copy of God’s Word from a Gideon.”
Paul remembers a specific time during high school when a Gideon-placed Bible was there at just the right time. He was staying in a hotel on an overnight school trip. One of his classmates, who was Catholic, started asking him about his faith. Paul reached over to the nightstand to grab a Bible, knowing a Gideon had placed one. He began reading Scriptures and ministering to his friend. “Because a Gideon was faithful to place a Bible,” says Paul, “I, as a teenager, was able to share the Truth with my friend.”
FAITHFULNESS ON DISPLAY
Paul married the love of his life, Julie, at age 19, and they began serving as bi-vocational youth pastors the next year. When Paul turned 24, God called him and Julie to move to Licking, Missouri, to pastor Licking Assembly of God. At the time, the congregation had 20 members. After almost a decade of ministry with this congregation, the Lord has blessed their faithfulness. Today, the church has 150 members and places a significant emphasis on community outreach. This past Christmas, the congregation had a goal to buy a Christmas present for every foster child in their community. Paul knows God is blessing this church, and the impact they are making is something bigger than he could have ever imagined. “I’m just a local, simple guy with a call on his life—people recognized this call and invested in me. I’m eternally grateful,” he fondly recalls.
Paul’s core desire has always been to authentically follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in his life, and he encourages those in his congregation to do the same. He has dedicated church members who are Gideons, and he sees them faithfully following God’s call to win others to Him. Every year, a Gideon comes to the church and shares how God is expanding His Kingdom through Gideons and Auxiliary. The congregation also partners with The Gideons at Christmastime through Birthday for Jesus—with many congregants giving to spread God’s Word across the globe.
“I’m just a local, simple guy with a call on his life—people recognized this called and invested in my life. I’m eternally grateful.”
Five years ago, he was leading a mission trip to Hungary. There in his hotel was a Gideon-placed bilingual Bible. Again, this served as a ministry tool for him at just the right time. “When pastors need access to Scripture in hotels and hospitals, faithful Gideons have placed these Bibles. It’s an invisible calling at times, yet so incredibly needed for fruitful ministry.”
Fruitful ministry is something all believers can strive to accomplish through faithfully sharing the Gospel and equipping Kingdom-minded people. In whatever capacity you may be serving the Lord, stay faithful to fulfill what He has called you to do. Pastor Paul encourages believers by saying, “Continue to walk in the calling God has placed on your life. Great ministry is around the corner for believers in the days ahead. It may look different, yet stay the course and be faithful.”