Remembering Don Richardson

June 23, 1935 – December 23, 2018



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December 24, 2018


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Check out this article, Remembering Don Richardson: Don Richardson 1935 – 2018. He was a mission leader, advocate, best-selling author and sought-after missions speaker. Read more, view memorial and movie.


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Many knew Don Richardson as a mission advocate, foundational leader, captivating speaker and best-selling author. Here at Pioneers, however, we have long since counted Don as a dear member of our global family.

Don’s voice and contributions significantly impacted missiology and cross-cultural contextualization. He was highly successful in his field, but he considered this accomplishment a mere outcome of his one and only focus: sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Undaunted faith and a deep passion for the unreached marked Don’s life. He leaves a legacy rich in the fruit of his prayerful perseverance.

Don was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1935. When he was 17, he dedicated his life to the Lord at a Youth for Christ rally. From then on, Don began to pursue God’s missional call on his life wholeheartedly.

Don married Carol Joy, and they graduated together from Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta, Canada. In 1962, they moved to Papua, Indonesia, serving with a mission agency called Regions Beyond Missionary Union, now World Team.

Don’s unwavering commitment to the cannibalistic Sawi tribe transcended the fierce opposition that living among them presented. During their 15 years on the field, Don and Carol slowly found ways to contextualize the gospel. They also translated the New Testament into the Sawi language and saw much of the tribe come to Christ.

Don Richardson and Peace Child

After writing and publishing his best-selling book Peace Child in 1974, Don transitioned into a new role with World Team. Moving back to the United States, he traveled extensively and regularly spoke at churches and conferences around the globe. His book about ministry among the Sawi people sold almost half a million copies and was a Reader’s Digest book of the month selection. Today, the book is available in 27 languages.

In 2004, Carol Joy passed away. Seventeen months later, Don married his second wife, Carol Joyce, and they ministered together until he became ill in March 2018. Since their marriage, Don authored five more books and continued to speak and advocate for cross-cultural missions around the world. He helped develop, promote and support the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course. His life and work continue to impact thousands. He went home to be with the Lord on December 23, 2018. Pioneers, and indeed people around the world, will deeply miss him.

50 years after Peace Child

In 2012, Steve Richardson joins his father, Don, and two brothers, Shannon and Paul, to visit the Sawi village where they grew up. What is the state of the church they planted among the Sawi? Watch Never the Same.

Memorial service for Don Richardson

The Richardson family has created a website, Peace Child Legacy, which contains video footage, photographs and information about Don’s life and ministry. Watch the memorial below.

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<p class="rich-text-callout"><strong>See Also: </strong><a href="#"><em>Discerning Your Calling: How Do You Know If God Is Leading You to Serve Cross Culturally?</em></a></p>

Take the next step

Watch Never the Same, a video documenting what happened when Don Richardson and his sons returned to the Sawi 50 years after arriving among the headhunting tribe.

Check out Treachery on the Twisted River, an adaptation of the 1974 book Peace Child, or read an excerpt.

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