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Richard Adkins

Missionary to Tanzania
"The Ultimate Adventure"
By Rachel Pyle, Intern, updated August 2018
Richard Adkins, an MK (missionary kid) and retired missionary with World Gospel Mission, dedicated his life to bringing people into the folds of God.

Although he was born in Minnesota, Richard’s 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). He focused his studies on the Bible and missions. It was during this time at CEI that he met Mary, and they were married in 1949.

After graduating from Asbury University, Richard took a pastoral position for three years. During this time, he and Mary were blessed with their first two children: Doug and Judi. 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 recalls. “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 the Bible college as well as serving in pastoral African church ministries, and he eventually became a district superintendent. In 1973, Richard and Mary assisted with a church plant 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 also gave Richard more opportunities to work as a videographer, a passion he developed during his years in ministry. He called this work the “ultimate adventure in excitement and joy.”

The challenge to “get the picture from concept to screen” 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 was 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.

On July 14, 2012, Richard married Doris Miller, who became his new partner in life and ministry. His daughter, Judi, recently wrote, “Doris, you have blessed our lives beyond words.”

Richard passed away on August 14, 2018. World Gospel Mission joins with Richard’s friends and family in celebrating his lifetime of faithful service. We rejoice that he is with his Lord and Savior today. Matthew 25:23 certainly applies to his life: “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
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