Global Christian Servant

D. John Richard (February 20, 1923 – February 3, 2018)

As bond servant of the most High One, his Lord Jesus Christ, John Richard frequently said, “I have found God to be utterly trustworthy, wholly reliable, and entirely dependable.” 

John Richard’s full-time employment began as a wireless operator at the tender age of 16 and continued on sea, land and air till he was 42. Called by God from flying for Indian Airlines as a radio operator into vocational Christian ministry at mid-life, he took a 75 percent “cut” in pay and entered a sacrificial future with his wife and four young children. Over the next 53 years as a local, national and global leader for the Lord Jesus Christ, he and his family proved God’s utterly trustworthy plan, wholly reliable provision and entirely dependable faithfulness.  

As general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) and co-founder of the Evangelical Fellowship of Asia (EFA), he ministered extensively throughout the nation, continent and needy world as an initiator, facilitator and ambassador for the cause of his Lord Jesus.

In 1995 he moved to Richardson, Texas, where he resided for 22 years. In 2017 he moved to his daughter’s home in Syracuse, New York, where he died 17 days shy of his 95th birthday.

A graveside service begins at 3 p.m. (with a viewing open at 2:30 p.m.) on Saturday, February 17, at the Chapel of Hughes Family Tribute Center, 9700 Webb Chapel Road, Dallas, TX 75220. A memorial service with reception follows at 5 p.m. at Northrich Baptist Church, 1101 Custer Road, Richardson, TX 75080. A celebration for the life of Rev. Dr. D. John Richard in India is also anticipated. Details will be announced soon.

Born and raised into his mid-teens in Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar), in a godly Lutheran family, John received Psalm 91:14-16 from his mother as life verses. He recited them every day, claiming promises of God’s deliverance, presence and satisfaction until his last week on the earth. And yet he considered himself a stranger to the experience of new birth.

Since God had miraculously rescued him from several dangerous situations, he lived a morally righteous life. Unfortunately, he noted, “my problem, my stumbling block was my self-righteousness,” till “I realized that I was no better person than the vilest person on the street.”

His personal conversion to Jesus Christ came through reading Christian literature bought at a small Christian bookshop. Recognizing his integrity, kindness and discipline, several Christian organizations invited him to help on their boards. These included the influential pulpit of Emmanuel Methodist Church in Madras (now Chennai) and the Evangelical Fellowship of India, the umbrella body representing the small percentage of Bible-believers in the land. In a region of massive spiritual, social and economic challenges, he worked toward the founding of the Indian Evangelical Mission, a leading mission agency, and the EFI Committee on (Emergency) Relief. He arranged conferences for pastors and special meetings for distinguished servants of Christ such as Corrie Ten Boom and Billy Graham.

He was ordained by Delhi Bible Fellowship and assisted as honorary pastor and board member for several years. The Hindustan Bible Institute and College in Madras conferred on him an honorary doctorate in divinity.

Also among John Richard’s many accomplishments was the founding of the India Missions Association, a body of missions agencies in India that would eventually become the largest missions association in the world. As the founding general secretary of the EFA, he organized the first Asian Mission Congress. He served with the World Evangelical Fellowship, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, and the AD2000 movement. His final years saw him as minister-at-large of ACTION International Ministries speaking in Asia, Africa and Latin America and playing a vital role in RREACH’s human capital campaign to reduce the global deficit of undertrained pastors. His favorite self-reference in appeal for God’s favor toward people was powerfully simple: “thy servant.”

In what is termed an “arranged marriage” in Indian circles, he was married to his beloved Manorama for 64 years. She preceded him into heaven in April 2014. They leave behind four children and their spouses: Ramesh and Bonnie (Dallas), Ramani and Suresh Thiagarajan (Syracuse), Ravi and Jharna (Orlando), Rajiv and Sushila (Dallas); sister Regina Rajiah (Tamil Nadu, India); eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

His enormous legacy of biblical principles and spiritual practices of prayer, servanthood, generosity, contentment and encouragement has been greatly remembered by an outpouring of expressions from all over the world.

A few years ago, he wrote, “I don’t know when the Lord will call me to Himself, but I pray for two things: First, that the epitaph on my tombstone will have three simple words—’He ended well.’ Second, to Christ alone belongs all the glory for that which He has wrought through His servant John.” His children borrow John 1:6, for here, too, was “a man sent from God, whose name was John.”

Memorial gifts to honor this bond servant of the Most High One may be made to International Friendship Evangelism, which ministers to international students primarily at Syracuse University (www.friendshipevangelism.org), to Action International, which evangelizes, disciples and develops primarily underprivileged people in urban areas (www.actioninternational.org), and/or to RREACH, a global proclamation ministry which evangelizes leaders and strengthens pastors to reach large numbers of individuals worldwide (www.rreach.org).