My name is Peter Richardson (Pete to my friends). I made my Walk to Emmaus in October of 1996 (UK Walk #4), and I sat at the table of John. The steps I took in this Walk were probably the most spiritually beneficial steps I have ever taken. Emmaus has impacted all aspects of my life—my family, my work, my social life, my friends, and my future.
I invited Jesus into my life as a young man at fourteen, but nothing seemed to change, well, not at first. (How do we understand change? Was the way I lived affected by what I had done, or would I have lived this way anyway?) From fourteen, I went on doing the things I wanted to do: I joined the Royal Navy, married Lesley, started a family, and changed my career so I could spend time with my two sons. My job then moved me to the Isle of Wight, a small island off the southern coast of England, where I became more and more involved in church life. I decided to train as a local preacher in the Methodist Church, and I soon was commissioned as a preacher in the wider Methodist New Connexion. It was a proud day shared with those I love. I continued my studies by joining a Disciple Bible study group, and during this course, I was invited to go for a Walk by my sponsor Mike.
So started my Fourth Day. On this Walk, I experienced all that was to shape my future; my real journey had begun. On our return, one group member Gwen said, “You have changed. I don’t know what has happened to you, but I sure would like some.” Gwen’s wish came true: I sponsored her and my wife Lesley on the ladies’ Walk to Emmaus in 1997. As time passed, all my Christian friends were invited to Walk as time passed. I became involved in the fledgling Steering Committee for Emmaus and took on the position of newsletter editor. I also started a reunion group on the Isle of Wight when our numbers reached four pilgrims. Time marched on. I sponsored more and more people; Gwen and Lesley did the same as did John, who was the first person I sponsored. We continued to grow. My involvement became greater and greater in church and in Walk to Emmaus. I have very fond memories of traveling back to the Island late at night with people who had made the Walk and were filled with the Spirit and praising God. What a time that was! I eventually become the second ever National Lay Director of Emmaus UK. I traveled to every Candlelight and Closing all over England. I think I was able to visit at least one training day for every walk during my time as NLD, and I continued to offer to be a team member as required. I can say that I have given all the lay talks, some on many occasions. I also was given the position of LD on the first ever Walk on the Island. It was God who made this possible.
My walk with God continued. I was blessed by God in so many ways. When Rev. Victor Perez visited the Emmaus community, a major move commenced for me. By the time that Victor visited the UK, my family had moved from the Island of Wight to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire—the most beautiful place. Victor stayed with us during his visit, and we started a friendship that still is ongoing. Victor and his wife have become very firm friends of our family. Over the years, we have taken holidays together and stayed in each other’s home on many occasions. Victor is the first person I turn to when I need spiritual advice. It was Victor who, as the International Spiritual Director of Walk to Emmaus, invited me to attend my first International Advisory Committee Meeting in Nashville.
Emmaus and Disciple brought a discipline to my prayer life that I was previously lacking. Since my Walk, my daily prayer and Bible study continue apace. I have led and participated in many retreats, Bible studies, prayer groups, and Encounter groups, including The Academy for Spiritual Formation in 2014 in Salter Park, NC. I have grown in my understanding of my place near God and the things God requires of me. Together, we move forward. Alone, I would be marking time.
I read (and often finish) many books and articles on “Grow through Study.” One of my favorites is Disciplines, a book of daily devotions that Victor introduced me to in 2006. Disciplines is now a constant companion alongside the many Bibles I have. I learn so much from reading at least two translations of any Bible passage, a practice I encourage others to add to their own study style. Victor also gave me a copy of A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Norman Shawchuck & Ruben Philip Job, and I have added A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God by John S. Mogabgab, Norman Shawchuck, and Rueben Philip Job. These two Guides, my copy of Disciplines, and at least two translations of the Bible have their own place on my desk. Other books come and go, but these are permanent residents.
What follows is a description of the Christian action God has moved me to do, not a list of my achievements. I was invited to become one of the Walk to Emmaus Regional Leaders for Europe in October 2011. (The previous year I had handed over the UK National Lay Director position to the very capable David James.) So started a roller coaster of adventure for me. Often accompanied by my wife Lesley, I visited countries around Europe. My first assignment was to oversee the launch of the Walk in Ukraine, a country now being destroyed by war. I have lost contact with that Emmaus community. They were located between Belarus to Kiev, in an area on the direct line taken by the Russian army. Please keep them—and all Ukrainians—in your prayers.
I have been to Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Romania, Ukraine, UK, and the US. I had the privilege of presenting the Walk to Emmaus at the National Conferences of Bulgaria and Poland. Both invited Emmaus into their countries, a process that was going very well until Covid-19 pandemic. Two lost years so far.
There have been good times, but also sadly bad times. Walk to Emmaus ended in Sweden and Finland, countries with relatively small populations, due to lack of support. While I was able to be a part of the launch of Emmaus in Romania and Ukraine, Europe is just starting to get back on its feet. They all require your prayerful support.
My hope for the future would center on the new Emmaus Ministries offerings. I’m particularly interested in the Day Four Restore and Village Encounter. It’s my prayer that Day Four Restore will reignite interest in Emmaus, which has suffered from not being able to meet face to face—no Walks and no gatherings. The people in leadership of Emmaus tend to be busy people. With nothing to do during the pandemic, they found new areas to prioritize. We cannot expect them to drop everything and run back to Emmaus. We need to get them excited again. Day Four Restore might just be that thing. Village Encounter is something we have needed for a long time. It will appeal to those who need or want this experience but are kept from an in-person Walk by any number of reasons.
There is hope. There is always hope. God is Hope. Loving God is Faith, Hope & Love. De Colores!
Peter Richardson attended the Walk to Emmaus in 1996 with the United Kingdom Community.
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I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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