Who is Richard Sanderson?
Richard was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and was brought up in a stable environment by loving and caring parents. Although not church goers, they did believe in the existence of God and of his son Jesus.
In his younger years, the ability and importance of caring for others was formed in Richard by his parents example and further complemented as he began to attend the 265th Sheffield Greenhill Cub and Scout Group who were very active in the local community.
As a cub he began to attend flag parades at the Anglican Church of St. Peter, Greenhill accompanied by his parents, and then later on a more constant basis as his family became regular attenders. At the age of 13 years old, Richard together with his parents were “confirmed” by the Bishop of Sheffield the day before moving to the North East of England, near to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, as a result of his fathers work.
Shortly after moving, his family began to attend the Anglican Church of St. George, where he quickly became part of the church choir and the different Sunday school/church youth activities. After finishing GCSE exams, he went on to further his studies at Sixth Form College where he had hoped to achieve the results that would take him to University to study Physiotherapy. On not achieving the required results, he went to work for British Gas from the age of 18, firstly in their customer accounts department and then later for TransCo, where he formed part of a team dealing with gas escapes and emergencies. British Gas gave Richard the chance to continue his studies at Newcastle College and later Northumbria University, achieving a BTEC Higher National in Business and Finance.
Short Term Mission:
In 1996, Richard combined his desire to help the less fortunate with his love of travelling by going to Ecuador on a short term mission’s team with the UK Christian Charity “Soapbox”, helping build a dental and medical centre in the city of Santo Domingo, and participating in a street ministry for children.
This was a defining time in his life as he was heavily impacted by the plight of many extremely poor families who lived in man-made shacks of discarded metal and wood. With little food to eat and virtually no work these families had no opportunity - zero percent - to change their circumstances; or have a hope in the future. It was on this trip that God became very real for Richard. He remembers this as the defining moment of his life when God revealed himself in a way he hadn't dome before. In that moment Richard made a definite decision to turn his life over to God and to give his heart fully to Jesus!
In conversation Richard told us that:
'It was in this moment that God placed a deep desire within me to help the world’s most needy people - and to effectively be an extension of God’s love in very practical ways to them.'
From Tanzania to Columbia:
After various short term missions’ trips during his holiday time from work - which took him to far flung places such as Tanzania ('97), Kenya and India ('98). Plus another mission to Ecuador in 1999; Richard travelled to Colombia in November of 1999 for a 2 week project. During his time he was invited to work for a longer period with very poor children in the city of Bogota with a UK based ministry called “In Ministry to Children”.
As the world turned the calendar into the new Millennium - and sensing the call of God on his life, Richard decided to take a one year career break from British Gas where he had worked for almost 10 years, and return to Colombia. He was supported from the UK by family, friends and individuals and his former Sunday School teacher, Maureen Nugent, who acted as his support coordinator.
Bogota is Colombia’s beating heart, its vibrant yet sprawling capital city which is cradled by the Andean peaks. It cobbled central streets sit high above sea level at an altitude of 2640 metres; and to the tourist it appears engaging, vibrant and steeped in colourful urban cool.1 However, Colombia has been ravaged by civil war over many a year and poverty is common-place. With a shortage of housing and a complete lack of social welfare, plus a high degree of unemployment sees many poor families living below the bread-line. In this social climate it is often the children who suffer most. They are often left to their own devices and many are sent out onto the streets to beg or steal.
During 2000, Richard served once again with the 'In Ministry to Children' charity, helping run their children’s home in the city of Bogota where they housed 8 young people between the ages of 6 to 16 years old, and also serving as part of their street children’s ministry in the city of Fusagasuga, about an hours travel from Bogota. During that year he was invited to visit another foundation in Bogota, and was deeply impacted by the work of 'CVII', an American non-profit organisation working in Colombia. Over the next few months, Richards’s friendship with the founder of Children’s Vision, Jeanene Kay Thicke developed and as they grew closer, love blossomed.
In 2001 Richard returned to the UK and during that time God clearly spoke to him about marrying Jeanene and returning to Colombia. Obedient to the call, Richard together with the help of his UK Coordinator Maureen developed further the support group in the UK and Richard resigned from his job, trusting everything in God’s hands and selling the apartment that he had previously bought close to his parents’ house. In 2002 Richard and Jeanene were married in the UK, and he made permanent his move to live in the city of Bogota with his new wife.
UK Support Hub:
Richard also moved churches making North Shields Evangelical Church his UK home church, and Fatima Foursquare Christian Church “Life to the Nations” his and Jeanene’s home church in the city of Bogota. (correct at time of writing: 2018)
UK support for Richard’s work, now with 'CVII' continued to grow and in May 2008 Richard, Maureen and friends founded the UK registered charity New Hope for Children.2 The main objective being to glorify God and raise awareness and support in the UK for the work of Children’s Vision, Bogota.
In Colombia Richard and Jeanene have the privilege through the miracle of Gods provision to give a safe home and a loving and caring family to 90 children from babies to young adults through the 4 homes they established which they called: 'Genesis', 'Exodus', 'Leviticus' and 'Numbers'.
Each day they are taught about the saving power and love of God. These young people are also educated at the Children’s Vision Beginning of Wisdom School, along with 100 other children from very poor families who come each day for the gift of an education, breaking the cycle of poverty. Many of those who are now grown up have gone on to study at the university, to have stable jobs and their own families, God’s power truly transforming generations.
and it doesn't end there...
Richard and Jeanene also work in many other areas including: humanitarian aid, medical missions and evangelistic works. Through their transparent lifestyle they reveal Gods love in very practical ways to the most needy in Colombian society.
2018 and beyond:
Richard is passionate about his work, and as part of his UK nationwide tour in April 2018, he will share his heart, experiences and passion for God, plus the love and compassion he has for His people and the street children of Bogota. He writes:
"I am really looking forward to being able to share at The Wessex Filling Station meetings about the incredible power and love of God which is at work in Colombia! I am going to speak with a special focus on a heart and mind for mission."
We can each make a difference where are and where we are called to be. DV.
- This section was formed by reading - www.lonelyplanet.com/colombia/bogota
- 'New Hope for Children' (registered number 1124015) is now coordinated in the UK by Christine Hodgson