Richard Adkins

Retired Missionary to Tanzania
“The Ultimate Adventure”
By Rachel Pyle, Writing Intern
October 2010

Richard Adkins, a missionary kid and retired missionary with World Gospel Mission, continues to dedicate his life to bringing people into the fold of God.

Although Richard was born in Minnesota, his parents were missionaries to Africa. Richard was raised in the countries of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. He received his call to missions at the age of 9 during an African camp meeting. “After praying at the altar, I testified that I would be a missionary,” Richard shared. After completing high school in Kenya, he returned to the U.S. and began studying at Chicago Evangelistic Institute (later Vennard College in Iowa). He focused his studies on the Bible and missions. It was during this time at school that he met his wife, Mary. They were married in 1949.

After graduating from Asbury University (Kentucky), Richard took a pastoral position for three years. During this time, he and Mary were blessed with their first two children: Doug and Judy. In 1955, Richard took his family on their first missionary trip to Kenya, where their third child, Michael, was born. “Our first four-year tour in Kenya was a challenging mix,” Richard recalled. “It was a thrill to be back in my ‘home country,’ but it was sometimes a bumpy road, especially for Mary, learning how things should be done.”

The transition from being an MK to an adult member of the missionary team was sometimes a challenge for Richard. “Some senior missionaries found it difficult to remember that I was now an adult staff member,” he shared. “I was no longer the less responsible teenager, but God’s grace was sufficient to help us.”

Richard held many jobs during his missionary career. He taught in both the high school and Bible college, served in pastoral African church ministries, and eventually became a district superintendent. In 1973, Richard and Mary started a church in the capital city of Nairobi. Richard was also involved in the design and construction of buildings, power plants, water systems, and radio communication networks. He worked in publications, producing and distributing Sunday School curricula and Christian literature. In addition, he discovered a passion for creating audio/visual media, producing radio, TV, film, video, and slide presentations.

In 1988, Richard and Mary were asked to move to Tanzania to help in the opening of WGM’s new field. Feeling God’s pull in that direction, they moved from Kenya in 1989 and spent the next four years working in Tanzania. They retired officially in 1994 and later moved to Avon Park, Florida, where they would be surrounded by former missionaries and colleagues.

Mary went to be with the Lord on February 23, 2009. Richard shared that in spite of the difficult final months, their retirement together had been blessed. “Mary and I had nearly 60 wonderful years of married life,” he said.

Retirement has also given Richard more opportunities to work as a videographer, a passion he developed during his years in ministry. He calls this work the “ultimate adventure in excitement and joy.”

The challenge to “get the picture from concept to screen” has fueled Richard’s love for creative media. Seeing how viewers both in the U.S. and on the mission field respond to hearing the story of Christ through video is one of Richard’s greatest joys. “I just thank the Lord for giving me the privilege to experience and enjoy this continuing ministry in these retirement years,” he said.

“Even throughout these last few challenging years, God has again demonstrated His love and faithfulness through renewed strength and sufficient grace, supplying every need, along with a real sense of His presence day by day.”