Ministry President and Men’s Head Coach

Hometown: Bedminster, PA

School: Northeastern Bible College ’76; Temple University ’81

Favorite Verse: “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my
mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind” (1 Cor 14:15).

Rich 1975Personal: Having grown up as the son of a pastor, I prayed and asked Christ to  be my Savior at an early age and learned the value and joy of serving God.  We moved frequently as my father went from one church to another.   He believed that God had called him to dying churches and, in each church where he ministered, the congregation grew and a new church building was built.

Our moving every two years could have been frustrating had it not been for my involvement in sports.   Sports gave me an automatic open door to my new student community, a sense of worth, and grounds for making friends.   My benefit from sports, along with seeing first hand the way God blessed my Dad and our family, had a tremendous impact on my choice of colleges and career direction.

When I was about ten years old, I began to believe that God intended for me to be in ministry.   The conflict in spirit came when I tried to correlate my love for sports with this commitment.   At that time, except for a few mission organizations that took teams overseas to play and share testimonies, most Christians and churches did not see a relationship between the two.   As a result, I attended a Bible college where I could continue to play soccer and baseball while preparing for the ministry.

I  found success on the athletic fields but still felt somewhat confused about ministry and sports.  After college I briefly played semi-pro soccer, but I was convinced that God wanted me in “ministry” so I worked at a Christian camp, the closest combination of ministry with “recreation.”

The next step in a long process was taken when I decided to attend seminary in the Philadelphia area.   While studying, I took a position as soccer coach at Philadelphia College of Bible.   There I discovered two loves, coaching and my wife, Bev, also an athlete who believed that God had set her apart for ministry.

In a meeting with my seminary advisor he asked how I was doing.   My reply, “Okay,” prompted him to ask why I was at seminary in the first place.   I explained that God was leading me into the ministry and that seminary seemed like the logical next step in my preparation.   He followed my explanation by asking me what I did that I really enjoyed.   My response was immediate: “Coaching.”   His next question, a rhetorical one, changed my life and focus.   He asked if it was not possible that God had called me to minister through sports.   After a lot of thought and prayer and conversations with my wife, I left seminary to attend Temple University where I received my Masters of Education in Recreational Program Administration.

My graduate degree allowed me to become part of the faculty at Philadelphia College of Bible where I coached and taught for five years.   As the result of the college’s relocation and a decline in enrollment, the college decided to cut back its Physical Education department and offered me a position in recruitment.   At the same time, my wife, now teaching at an area Christian school, told her headmaster that I might be looking for a position.   He called the next day and asked if I would be interested in teaching at Plumstead Christian High School .   Instead of looking at this as a step backward, I was encouraged to look at the young people whom I could influence.   I taught physical education, Bible classes, coached soccer and wrestling and eventually became the athletic director. I was at PCS for eight great years.

Both my wife and I were very happy but at the same time sensed that there was something more and something new that God was going to let us experience.   We saw all the opportunities that young people have in the United States and realized that most of the world does not have teachers, has not read the Bible, and does not know how much God loves us.

As we sat together in church and listened to a missionary pour out his heart concerning the countless needs as well as the blessings he had experienced, I was moved to tears, turned to my wife and told her, “We have to go!”   Her reply was simple and dramatic:   “Okay!”   This was not an easy decision because our children were five and three years old at the time, but in hindsight, it was the best choice for them and for us.   We left the USA in 1989 and, after a year studying Spanish in Costa Rica, arrived in the Dominican Republic .

Plato is quoted as having said, “You can know more about a man after an hour of play than a full year of conversation.”   Our family really found that to be the case during the time we were involved in starting two churches.   Both came about as a result of God using a sports ministry approach.    Working in a large apartment complex, we established a sports program that involved a recreation program and a competitive league.   The league included several already existing churches and a Christian school.   Church attendance and scripture memorization were required for weekly eligibility, and, since no church existed in or near the apartment complex, we began Bible studies which led to a Sunday School and youth group. These gave birth to Sunday services and in turn to a local church.   We experienced this process in two separate neighborhoods, in two distinct economic classes, with two very different educational levels.

We returned to the States in 1998 so our children could attend high school here. We believed God was leading us to do this so they would not go through arduous process alone that many third culture kids experience who return for college in the US while their parents stay on the field. We also believed God was leading us to help other missionaries and ministries take advantage of a ministry approach we found to be dynamic… sports ministry.

Besides being the President of Torch Sports Ministry and the Men’s Head Coach of the BuxMont Torch FC, this is my eighteenth year serving with Baseball Chapel as a chapel leader of the Philadelphia Phillies. I am an adjunct professor at the University of Valley Forge in Sports Management and I am also the pastor (part time) of Community Bible Fellowship of Roxborough. Bev and I have been married for 38 years and both our children, Richie and Brittany, love and are serving the Lord. As a matter of fact, Richie and Gabrielle, his wife, served as missionaries with Makarios in the Dominican Republic.