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October-November 2013


November 2013

Journey of a Lifetime


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Free Will Baptist International Missions serves churches, pastors, and people by helping them fulfill their role in establishing churches beyond North America so unreached peoples can know the joy of a relationship with the living God.

To find out more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist International Missions, visit

Norman Richards Called Home

Antioch, TN—Norman Richards, former missionary to Ivory Coast, entered his heavenly home around 8:00 a.m., August 22, 2013. Diagnosed in April of this year with cancer, he was hospitalized several times as he battled the disease’s aggressive attack. On August 5, he entered Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, with pneumonia and breathing difficulty. After weathering several crises over the intervening weeks, he achieved victory.


Norman Richards

Appointed as missionaries in March 1966, Norman and his wife Bessie studied the French language in Switzerland and then arrived in Ivory Coast in 1969. The majority of their 28-year ministry was spent in the area of Agnibilekrou where they successfully began a church, trained leaders, and expanded into village evangelism. The Richards returned to the States in 1994 when Norman experienced a medical crisis with diabetes and a serious kidney infection. Damage to his kidneys made service in Côte d’Ivoire impractical. The Richards resigned in December 1994.

Yet, their passion for reaching the unreached remained strong, and they completed six years (1995-2001) in Louisiana with Free Will Baptist Home Missions. When International Missions began its ambassador program (volunteer representatives who promoted the World Missions Offering) in 2006, Norman was one of the first people to sign on. At his passing, Norman served as minister of senior adults for Donelson Free Will Baptist Church in Nashville.
Brother Richards leaves behind his wife Bessie and sons Gene and Randall and their families.



The ProvowsProvows Assigned to Bulgaria

Antioch, TN—The Board of Free Will Baptist International Missions met Sunday night, July 15, following events at the National Association of Free Will Baptists in Tampa, Florida. During the session, Josh and Lydia (Dankson) Provow were assigned to Bulgaria.

The Provows were approved for a two-year overseas internship with an unspecified destination in the annual board meeting earlier this year. Certain of the call to serve God overseas, the Provows expressed their desire to minister where needed most. Options were presented and, after much prayer, the couple began talking with Bulgaria’s current missionaries to confirm their skills and gifts fit the needs of the missionary team.

Lydia was born in Alabama. Her father currently pastors United FWB Church in Dickson, Tennessee. Josh was born and raised in Fredericktown, Missouri, and grew up attending Coppermines FWB Church. Lydia earned an associates degree in Christian ministry from Welch College in 2010. Josh also graduated from Welch in 2010 with a degree in Biblical Studies. He is currently working on his M. Div. through Liberty University while pastoring First FWB Church in Weatherford, Texas. Married in 2008, Josh and Lydia have three daughters: Naomi, Phoebe, and Zoe.



Alpedrete Church Officially Recognized

Alpedrete, Spain—In the country of Spain, it seems that all roads lead to a mountain of paperwork. At times, the bureaucracy seems endless. Recently, the Alpedrete Church Council completed paperwork (below) to petition the Justice Department to recognize the organization as a legal entity. Each form led to countless others. Finally, the council signed the final documents and hand delivered them to the proper authorities. Told to expect a response in the fall, the church rejoiced when the approval was granted in July.


Alpedrete Church Recognized

Government recognition means the church can legally sign contracts and hold a bank account. The church is entitled to all protections and privileges the law guarantees. In the eyes of the community, the church gained credibility and permanence. The legal standing validates what members already felt: the Alpedrete church is real, a literal part of its community. A vision has become reality.



Good News in Chitré Celebrates Anniversary

Chitré, Panama— Approximately 250 people attended the second anniversary celebration of the Good News Free Will Baptist Church in Chitré, Panama. A good number of those in attendance were from the community. Pastor Lino explained, “The church prayed on Thursdays for the anniversary. We asked the Lord to make it a significant event, not only for the Free Will Baptist family, but also an activity that souls could be reached with the gospel.”


Chitre Church Celebrates Anniversary

Stan and Brenda Bunch, former missionaries to Panama who planted the church, joined the congregation via SKYPE.

“The Lord blessed us and this has encouraged me,” Pastor Lino said, “and the entire church. I am sure that many good things will occur thanks to the recent anniversary service at Good News Church.”



Andersons Tender Resignations

Antioch, TN—In a called meeting on August 8, 2013, the Board of International Missions met with Verlin and Debbie Anderson (pictured, below). Lengthy discussions addressed ongoing, significant differences in philosophy of mission and direction for the work in Côte d’Ivoire. As a result of the daylong meeting, it was mutually agreed the Andersons would tender their resignations.


Verlin and Debbie Anderson

Verlin and Debbie Anderson were appointed in May 1997 as missionaries to Doropo, Côte d’Ivoire. The Andersons have three children. Cason and his wife Suzanne (Dean) live and work in Nashville, Tennessee. Cara recently received her R.N. and works in Nashville. Corbin began his senior year of high school (his first year in a traditional classroom) in Antioch, Tennessee, in August.


©2013 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists