Thursday, July 11, 2024

Just Be Available

We left the heavy monsoon rains in India, and are now ready to leave the intense heat of Las Vegas.  August in Montana sounds wonderful - doesn't it?

Here's our schedule -  we are really excited to reconnect with our Montana supporters, friends and family. Please join us when you can.
  • Sunday August 11th @ 10:30 a.m. The Place Church, Hamilton, MT
    with Pastors Mike and Denise Echterling
  • Sunday August 18th @ 10 a.m. CrossPoint Church, Corvallis, MT
    with Pastors Scot and Shelly Colwell
  • Sunday September 1st @ 10:30 a.m.  House of Praise, Victor, MT
    with Pastors Jim and Lorraine Andrusky
  • Tuesday August 27th @ 6:00 p.m.  - CrossPoint Women, Corvallis, MT

"Your mission field is wherever your feet are." Gary & Pat Richards
Montana Wild Roses

It's true! Everyone in your circle of influence needs a touch from Jesus.

Available is defined as: 'Present and ready for use, at hand, accessible; or willing to do something.'  

Am I available? Are you available? To say yes to the Lord - wherever and whenever He says 'Go'.

Here are a few thoughts from Gary on what it means to "Just Be Available"

People often ask Pat and I, “What is the key to your success in ministry and life?”  

The answer is very simple; “If you want to be successful and want God to work in your life, then be available for Him.”

As a young Christian, I read Matthew 22:14, ”Many are called but few are chosen.” I knew right then I didn’t want just to be called, I wanted to be chosen. But what did I need to do?  I prayed and asked, ‘Lord, how do I get from being called to being chosen’? 

He simply replied, “Say, yes to me and always make yourself available.”

This is all Pat and I know to do and it has taken us where we could never have imagined, doing what we would never have been able to do in our own wisdom, strength or ability.

But how do we actually make ourselves available? What does that look like?  Do I have to volunteer more, give more to the church, read my Bible more?  No. Being available can include those things but it is much bigger than that.

To be available means to say yes to God, whenever and wherever.  It means allowing God to be God.   Being available means adjusting our agendas, and plans to fit God’s agendas and plans.  It is having an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one.

It is prioritizing that which is a priority to God and includes:
  • Submitting your time, talents and resources to God.
  • Obeying Him, even when it is difficult and costs you something.
  • Thinking more about God and His purpose for your life and less about yourself.
  • Aligning yourself with God and His purposes daily.
  • It means living with the knowledge that as a follower of Jesus your life is not your own, you have been bought with a price.
God has never asked about our ability or our inability, but about our availability.

Isaiah made himself available to God. Isaiah 6:8 says, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'  Then said I, 'Here I am! Send me.' ”

The greatest thing that we can do to bless and serve the world is to be available when God calls.

So, I want to ask you one simple question today:   Are you available? I promise you, making yourself available to God will involve risk on your part. I also promise you that by being available you will be blessed beyond measure and you will be a blessing to others in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

Here's the link to one of our current favorite songs: Elevation Worship “Available.”  Click here for the lyrics.

As you listen, let it become a prayer and a tool to dedicate yourself to being available to Him.  It will change your life and the lives of others!

The journey of availability continues ~ Gary & Pat

Montana Sunrise

We said 'Yes' to living in India - and look what God allowed us to experience

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Welcome Home - back in America

Upon arrival into the United States, all persons regardless of their citizenship, are required to go through US Immigration, collect their baggage, then go through US Customs.

When we returned to the United States last week – we simply presented our passports, which the Immigration official scanned, stamped and handed back to us with a poignant greeting “Welcome Home”.

Our customs form read ‘Nothing to Declare’. We handed it the officer and walked out to the warm embrace of friends at the arrival gate in Las Vegas. 

God is a lot like that US Immigration Official.   It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away, where you’ve travelled, how tired and dirty you are – when you return, He simply stamps you with His love, puts His arms around you and says, “Welcome Home Child”.

Then we have the opportunity to declare and surrender all those things that we shouldn’t be carrying around – fear, hurt, discouragement, worry, habits, indifference.

Surrender them to Jesus – He’s like the Customs Officer for heart matters. He’ll take them and dispose of them properly. Imagine how much less baggage you’ll have to carry around.  How much lighter your heart will feel. 

We’re officially back in Las Vegas for the next two months.  Although it’s been our home for many years, somehow it no longer feels like ‘home’ – our hearts have been transplanted and taken root in India.

What's ahead for us?  August will find us enjoying Montana's big-skies and cool summer days, reconnecting with friends and families and sharing at our partner churches.  We'll share that schedule soon. 

Plans are to return to India by early October.  Our cozy flat is waiting for us.

We're often asked, 'What does it feel like to be back home in the United States?'    It's good to be back and we definitely feel loved and warmly welcomed by all our friends and supporters.  

Morning walks in our Las Vegas neighborhood feel  'sanitized' without the dust, garbage, cows, cowpies or stray dogs. 

Thank you for sharing our journey as we continue with God.   ~ Pat

Be prepared to be challenged and blessed as you listen to Gary's recent teaching. "How Do I Smell?"

Have you read our book?  Click the image for more info or to order from 

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

It's Just So Different

Early morning walks through the surrounding neighborhoods provide continual fascination.  It's a bit of a challenge to be up and out just after dawn; before the sun gets too high and the humidity makes it unbearable. While I do encounter a few fellow walkers, it's the closest to 'quiet' as it gets.

Its radically outside any comfort zone I ever had.  I stay observant and always feel safe, so don’t worry about that. 

Here are a few random observations that most of us don't see on a regular basis. (This assumes you live in a developed or first world nation, like the United States, Canada or parts of Europe.)

Trash is dumped in empty lots and occasionally burned along the edge of the road.

Cows. I know I keep mentioning the cows - but now they are calving and its cows and adorable newborn calves.    The ones I see on my walks have owners who move them to empty lots each day to graze.  (Which means dodging cow pies on the road)

There are small Hindu temples at many corners and junctions. People passing by stop for a moment to pay their respects to the enshrined deity before resuming their tasks.

Daily life spills out into the streets.  Especially in the poorer neighborhoods where houses are one or two rooms, an outdoor toilet, water is hauled from the faucet along the road. The public water supply is turned on at 7 am for a few hours each day.

This is life at it’s most basic.

Laundry is washed in buckets
and hung to dry
wherever there is room.

Transporting huge loads of goods by truck,
motorbike or balanced on a woman's head.

Ministry is also different.  As foreigners we try to keep a low profile by not openly sharing about Jesus in public places, only in private homes and at church.  Deliberately not being flashy or attracting more attention than our white skin already does.  We are careful about using social  media and not promoting ourselves.  It’s really all about Jesus anyway.

Christians face severe persecution in several India states. The Chief Minister of West Bengal, the state where we are based, fights for minorities, including minority religions, which has kept the persecution here to a minimum.  

While everything about life in India is so different than life in America or Canada, one thing is constant: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, forever.” Hebrews 13:8.   It’s why we’re here. It’s why we live. It is our purpose to share His love wherever we go.

May this truth encourage your heart today.  When it seems that everything in your life is changing - Jesus is eternally the same. 

The Journey Continues ~ Pat

It’s pre-monsoon or summer season.
Flowers are blooming profusely.
The food is always delicious.

There was a powerful anointing for freedom as we sang "Break Every Chain". (In both English and Nepali) The Word Holy Spirit directed me to share instructs us to keep our freedom.  May you be challenged as you listen to leave those chains on the ground.  Pat

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Pinch Me Moments - Sri Lanka

The amazing tropical island that is Sri Lanka overwhelms my senses as it fascinates my mind. From Moratuwa, our base on the Western coast, we drive inland and upward to an elevation of 5,700 feet.  The relatively new road winds around rich green hills, through tea and rubber estates, terraced gardens and roadside stands displaying brightly hued fresh vegetables.

An hour into our journey we stopped at our 'usual' roadside cafe for milk tea and a sausage roll. Our next stop was Kandy (famous for the Buddhist Temple of the Tooth) for shopping and lunch of 'lump rice': a Sri Lankan specialty of fried rice, chicken, egg, seeni sambol (sweet onion relish) all steamed inside a banana leaf. (very tasty and filling)

We revisited Labookellie Tea Estate for their famous chocolate cake accompanied by free tea (pure, delicious, perfectly brewed Ceylon black tea). It’s great marketing – once you taste the tea you’ll be more inclined to buy some to take home.

During the entire trip, we were amazed at the beautiful scenery and awed by the thought that we were 'revisiting' and recognizing so many beautiful, exotic places far removed from 'normal' life in America.

I call these 'pinch-me moments' (and yes Gary is always happy to oblige). This amazing ‘Journey with God’ has taken us around the world as we follow the call to show the love of Jesus to 'the least of these'.   Neither of us ever imagined that we would experience such beautiful places, gracious people, fascinating cultures and customs. (Did I mention delicious food?)

Ephesians 3:20-21 in the Amplified Bible explains it best: “Now to Him Who, by the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).”   

Adara Sevana is the school Deepthi and Layasing have in Moratuwa for 'differently-abled' young people. Until recently, there was nothing available for them in the regular schools, so without Adara Sevana, which means 'Love Shelter' in Sinhala, they would just sit at home and not learn and develop at all. Some public schools now have limited classes for younger children with special needs. 

Each morning we joined the students at Adara Sevana for daily chapel which included a short Bible story narrated and acted out by - you guessed it - Gary and I! They enjoyed our amateur dramatics. It was a blessing to pray and speak a blessing over them. 

Deepthi and Layasing are wonderful hosts, graciously making sure we had all that was needed to make our stay in Sri Lanka a joy. Not to mention the delicious Sri Lankan food!

Our third weekend in Sri Lanka was truly a God-appointment. A pastor in the hill town of Nurawa Elyia was crying out to God for someone to come alongside to encourage and pray with him.  In answer to his prayers, God changed our plans and sent us to his church for the weekend.   The eye clinic was a blessing: eighty-five (85) people had their eyes checked, and seventy-nine (79) received glasses.  Pastor Paul and his family were encouraged and strengthened as we spent time together in prayer. God gave prophetic words of encouragement that brought great hope.  All of us were blessed to worship together Palm Sunday service as Gary shared on “Another Touch.”

Outreaches to villages are very rewarding and fill our hearts with joy.  Because few people venture to remote rural villages or small churches to minister and help, the people are very appreciative and receptive.  We're expecting to hear good reports of as God continues to work and move through the local pastors and leaders.

Our prayer is that your journey with God fills your heart with joy and wonder.  Spend time with our amazing God – daily.  He’s as close as your breath. He longs to be part of every moment of your day.  

Thank you for your ongoing love and prayerful support as we are back in India.  April finds us ministering at a couple of different churches. Let’s see what God will do.

The Journey Continues ~ Pat

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Our Hearts are Overwhelmed - Sri Lanka

Two weeks into our time in Sri Lanka and our hearts are overwhelmed with the goodness of the Lord.  So many experiences, impressions, emotions - we’re on sensory overload.  

We are overwhelmed as we reflect on:  

  • Our great joy to be back in Sri Lanka after almost 5 years. Working with our ministry partners Deepthi and Layasing, we slipped back into fellowship and ministry as if no time had passed.
  • The overabundance of beauty.  Sri Lanka Means Resplendent land - and it truly is that. Photos provided as proof.
  • Gracious people who organize and host the eye clinics and services and prepare delicious local dishes for lunch: even toning down the spice level so as not to overwhelm our western tastebuds (although Gary has a missionary stomach  and can eat the spiciest of foods without concern).
  • The extreme poverty and seemingly un-ending need. Sri Lanka suffered through 25 years of civil war, ending in 2009. The nation was beginning to recover, when the world shut down during the pandemic.  Sri Lanka experienced a severe economic collapse beginning in 2019 and their Prime Minister was forced to resign. Costs of basic necessities have increased 400% over the past 3-4 years. There is little help for the people, their suffering is real.
  • Gratitude that we can come alongside and show the love of Jesus in a practical way – by giving eyeglasses to those who could never afford them.

Eye vision clinics provide a unique opportunity to serve the needs of people on both a physical level and a spiritual level. Local church workers, pastors, evangelists are involved, meet the people and follow up with them regardless of religion or church affiliation. 

First weekend: Deniyaya  By 5:30 Friday morning the van is loaded with eye glasses, exam equipment, overnight bags, drinking water.  We drive three and a half hours southeast, much of it on the country’s new E-01 toll-road which greatly reduces our drive time.  

Because of the potential for persecution by the Buddhists in this area, the eye clinic was very low key.  With the goal of developing positive relationships in the neighborhood, news of the eye clinic was discreetly spread by word of mouth.

During four and a half hours, sixty-six (66) people had their eyes examined with assistance and translation by local church workers. The local church workers had helped Deepthi and Layasing in another community a few months ago and were very organized and efficient. 

Fifty-six (56) people received glasses. Many had cataracts so severe glasses could not help. Younger people were experiencing eyestrain because of excessive time on their devices. They were given some basic eye care instruction and were taught exercises to strengthen their eyes.

Because of the very real danger of increased persecution, we only prayed with those who were already followers of Jesus; or those who specifically said they believed Jesus could heal them.  This helps to avoid the accusation of 'buying' conversions by giving free eyeglasses.

Sunday morning service at Diniyaya – Joyful praise to the Lord went up from the roof top terrace of a local hotel, rented for Sunday morning’s church service.  Gary shared the Word, communion was received.  What a joy to worship with our Sri Lankan family. 

Second weekend - Udugama & Hiniduma The last time an eye clinic was held in these two villages was October 2017 and my sister Cyndy was with us. Much has changed in the past seven years.  Click here to check out posts from 2017 - Udugama      Hiniduma a    Hiniduma b  

Udugama – is just two and a half hours from Moratuwa.  Friday’s eye clinic was held on an estate that produces palm oil, rubber and tea. Estates or gardens are basically plantations. Tea garden villages are built up over time, workers live and raise their families right where they work.

With three people doing the eye exams, and Pat dispensing glasses, we saw eighty-four (84) people in three hours. All but 6 or 7 were given glasses.   Tea and a local snack were served mid-morning.  A delicious and bountiful lunch followed the eye clinic.

Early evening we drove an hour further south to Galle to visit a brother from the Buttala Church who was in hospital for full checkup - high blood sugar.  Since we were right on a bay of the Indian Ocean, we found a seafood restaurant and enjoyed prawns, cuttlefish and seafood fried rice. Along with Sri Lanka’s most famous beverage – Elephant House ginger beer. 

The local Holiday Inn in Udugama provided basic accommodations (including air conditioning, but not hot water) for SLR 3,000 each; equal to US $10.  We seemed to be the only guests in this beautiful large facility, which apparently stays in business with income from their events hall.  

Hiniduma was a short twenty minute drive on Saturday morning. The eye clinic was held in  the Methodist church house.  People waited patiently under the shade of large trees or in the covered meeting hall where church services are held. 

Eighty eight (88) people were seen in just under four hours, and most were given glasses.  Sister Deepthi also checked several children and youth and taught them exercises to do for vision convergence - which happens when we are on the computer or devices for long periods of time. 

Mid-morning we were served coffee made from locally grown Sri Lankan coffee beans. It was enjoyed with a local dessert crepe rolled around a honey coconut filling and slices of lovely chocolate layer cake, all on very pretty China. 

The church ladies prepared and served a bountiful  lunch, featuring a  special local vegetable.  In Sinhala it’s called “paththra koku” which translates as ‘newspaper hooks’.  Two teenage girls went out and foraged some plants to show us how it looks before cooking; turns out it is a variety of fiddlehead fern. Another new taste experience. 

Plans are to be in Nurawa Eliya for our final weekend. Our last visit there was in February 2016 – click to read Cyndy’s account of that drive. (note this was before the toll road was constructed).

Look for future posts on Sri Lanka and Adara Sevana – a school for the differently-abled. 

Each of you – have a part in the ongoing work God is doing in Sri Lanka.  There is a ripple effect as hearts are opened to hear more about Jesus, families are changed, communities are healed; the long term impact that we will only know in eternity.
~ The Journey Continues -  Pat & Gary

Friday, March 8, 2024

Happy to be back in Sri Lanka

India makes a great base for us to travel to other parts of Asia. Flying to Colombo, Sri Lanka from Siliguri, West Bengal, India took us 2 short flights - a total of 8 hours with travel and layovers, and we are in the same time zone.  No jet lag! Yeah!!  (For those of you wondering, neither India nor Sri Lanka observes Daylight Savings Time)

Compare this to the last time we flew from Las Vegas to Sri Lanka – 4 flights and almost 40 hours travel time (including airport layovers), plus we crossed the international date line. The lack of sleep and 12+ hour time difference results in jetlag that takes 3-4 days to fully recover.

Outreaches are planned for the next three weekends.  Plans are to leave by 5 a.m. Saturday morning, drive 3 – 4 hours to the town where we will hold an eye clinic starting around 9 a.m.   Sunday morning there will be a revival church service.  Late Sunday we’ll drive back to Moratuwa where we are staying with our ministry partners.  It’s a joy to be  ministering together after almost 5 years.   

During the week we’ll spend time at Adara Sevana (Love Shelter), a school for the differently abled and share at a weekly healing meeting. 

Students who completed the week of training.

Gary's second week in South India was fruitful: imparting the Word of God to hungry hearts. He received several precious notes of gratitude from the students - sharing how their lives were impacted during the training sessions. Pat was blessed with several gifts and lots of love and prayers sent back with Gary.

Sunday Services:  This past Sunday, Gary and I shared at two different places.  I had a 2 hour taxi ride one way (with Sister Hannah my translator) to a small village called Nagrakata. (Taxis here are hired autos, quite reasonably priced)

Gary shared the Word at our home church in India. The people came hungry to meet with God.  He is always faithful to touch hearts and change lives. 

Raising up the Next Generation

What adventure in faith are you on at the moment?   Sharing our adventures reminds us that as followers of Jesus - every day of our life is an opportunity to share the love of Jesus - wherever you find yourself - with whoever you find yourself with.

Your love and prayers are so important - our hearts are encouraged with every email or message we get from you.

The journey continues ~ Pat

Thursday, February 8, 2024

God is Love

The Bible has a lot to say about love.  When you think about it, the entire Bible is God’s love letter to mankind.  The book of 1st John actually tells us that “God is Love “(1 John 4:8 &16).  He wasn’t content to ‘be’ love;  He was compelled by love to rescue us from sin and death.  John 3:16  in the New Living Translation explains that  “… this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Once we receive the love of Jesus, are born-again into the family of God, the only logical response to His great love – is to love others!  For Gary and I, at this time in our lives, that means living in India.   This may sound like a great sacrifice of service to God – but really it brings us such joy and satisfaction – that we can’t imagine doing anything else.  

Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us. 1 John 4:19 TPT

Seeking Hearts
One of our greatest joys is to see people with a passionate desire for more of God.   To be part of meeting their thirst for a deeper knowledge of God’s Word; to experience His powerful presence together;  there is  no greater satisfaction in life.

Gary is in Hyderabad, Telangana teaching Session #2 of the Legacy Foundation Course for Pastors, leaders and hungry believers.   This training course is hosted by churches in various parts of India and other nations and includes four (4) week-long sessions. Men and women of all ages and walks of life leave their families, jobs and churches so that they can learn and experience a deeper understanding of God’s Word and what it means to walk in the fullness of Holy Spirit.

Reports after Session #1 were that lives were changed. Some students were born again, healed, freed from demonic oppression. Their minds were renewed by God's Word, which leads to transformation of their lives (Romans 12:1-2). The students are now more firmly established in their salvation, filled with the Spirit of God, and strengthened in faith.  With a firmer understanding of God’s Word, they are better equipped to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to others.

You can see their earnest desire for God on their faces.
Next week Gary will be at a different church in the nearby town of Tandur, teaching Session #2 to a new group of hungry students. Your prayers are invaluable.  The schedule is intense with full days of classes and multiple meetings on the weekend and some evenings.  

Wherever you are in your walk with God – our prayer is that you would pursue a closer relationship with Him. Allow God’s great unending love to fill your heart. If you haven’t received Jesus into your life and asked Him to be Lord and Savior – what are you waiting for?   Then share His love with other people – right where you are.  You don’t have to travel far to find someone who needs encouragement and love.

The journey continues ~ Pat
Did you know we wrote a book?  It’s a book about God. His amazing love. His detailed plans. Sit down with us over a cup of coffee or tea (with a few ‘biscuits’ of course) as we share some of the amazing stories from our Journeys With God. This book is not chronological, it is not all inclusive or even finished, as He continues to write the story of our lives.   Our hope is that you will be encouraged on your journey. Say ‘Yes’ to God and see what He will do.

Click the book image to order from