Vision of revival in church
ALMOST TWO YEARS ago, at age 30, he became the youngest person ever to take up the top post of superintendent of the Methodist Church in Barbados. In fact, Reverend Derick Richards is the youngest superintendent in the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas.He was appointed superintendent 18 months ago and serves as minister of the South Trinidad Circuit which comprises 11 congregations.His decision to become a minister was born out of a struggle that he faced as a young boy.“When I was close to leaving secondary school, I began to wrestle with what I wanted to do. All things I once had an interest in began fading into the background. Around the time I was wrestling with what to do, my church started a Youth With A Mission Programme.“Under this programme, 25 young people were challenged to give one year of their life to the mission of the church. We were trained in missions and evangelism, faith-sharing and other life skills. Also during the year, we spent four to five hours daily doing one-on-one evangelism in the community throughout St Vincent.“We also organised open-air sessions throughout the length and breath of St Vincent. It was then that Richards saw the need for more full-time workers in the church and sensed this was the kind of ministry to which God was calling him.He worked with the Methodist Kingstown Chateaubelair Methodist Circuit as lay pastor of the Spring Village congregation after leaving the Troumaca Ontario Secondary School. He was 19 years old at the time. He soon headed for Jamaica, where he entered the Jamaica United Theological College of the West Indies and later the University of the West Indies, Mona.At the Jamaica United Theological College, he obtained a diploma in ministerial studies, before completing his Bachelor of Arts degree in theology at the university.Following his training, he was posted to the South Trinidad Circuit, where he served as pastor of five congregations for four years, before taking up his current post.Richards, who wanted to become an engineer, also had a passion for writing.“I wanted to do both. At some later point, I also enjoyed cooking too. I still do, today. I actually had thoughts of becoming a chef. Gradually, however, I began to lose interest in these professions.”Richards believes that his decision to join the ministry is a confirmation that his life is not his own, but God’s.“I did not set out with any intention to become a superintendent. I was offered the position two years ago at district conference, but I did not accept it then, because I did not think that I was ready.“However, certain circumstances arose that made it necessary for me to review that decision, and so I accepted the position. It’s been amazing how God has been using my position to bring about revival and renewal in Trinidad,” he stated.Richards is responsible for the pastoral care of all the congregation in that circuit, but there is also an administrative role that he plays.“I oversee the spiritual health and well being of all members in the circuit and [I am] also the manager of three Methodist schools – two primary and one preschool.”He has a vision for worldwide revival and renewal of the church, particularly the Methodist Church.“The church is not as vibrant as it used to be and not as impactful either. It is my hope and vision to see it rise to the occasion of grappling with the current situations and issues, facing the world today.“I think God is saying the same thing. He is saying that we cannot do anything without Him. In the name of progress the church has left God out. We want to be all inclusive and to listen and please everybody. The church finds itself shifting to accommodate the world. The world should not be leading the church, rather the church should be leading the world.”On the issue of same-sex marriages, Richards states this is an issue which he strongly opposes.“We have to minister to their needs. We cannot be naive to the fact that this kind of lifestyle is in the society and the church. Under no circumstance can the Methodist Church condone this kind of behaviour. We have a clear position that it is not consistent with the Word of God and tradition of the church. We cannot accept this as an affirmative lifestyle, but persons can be deceived and made to believe that it is an alternative lifestyle,” added Richards.“They cannot hold on to this kind of lifestyle and be part of the church triumphant. I am willing to challenge any politician or government who puts legislation in place to make this happen,” he further stressed.Richards is also concerned about young people and the fact that there has been an increase in technology and persons obtaining higher education, albeit without taking note of any regard for God.“There have been advances in areas of living, while there has been a decline in moral values.He also holds the view that the media seem to promote only the bad, while there are many young people who love God.“We don’t hear about the men and women who have decided to remain chaste until marriage. It is time we begin to tell more stories about the persons who have been faithful to God.Richards is married to Sade (formerly Mayers), a Barbadian whom he met at a district conference in St Lucia five years ago.An avid cricket fan, Richards, who spent the last five days ministering at a number of Methodist churches, leaves the island today.