Free Money For Burkina

IMG_3159Over the last couple of years our work in Burkina Faso has benefitted a great deal from people going to their employers to ask about matching funds. In many cases it works like this; if you as an employee donate to a nonprofit, your business will donate money back to the same nonprofit (Engage Burkina) at a pre-determined match. We have had companies match gifts dollar for dollar, double or triple a gift, and some companies have even thrown in more for good measure because they had the ability too.

We have received matching gifts from companies all over the country such as Tiffany and Co., Liberty Mutual Insurance, Illinois Tool Works, and more.

Maybe your family would like to sponsor a bike for someone immobilized by disease in West Africa, or maybe provide clean water to a village. Why not get some help with a matching gift from your employer? Of course, not all companies offer this, but for the right opportunity they just might.

You can go here and download our Case Statement, and share with your Business or School. Our tax exemption letter from the IRS is available upon request to

Go to and found out how you can bring hope and sustainable solutions and engaging the people of Burkina Faso.


May God Give You Courage

Look Up LionEarlier this year I was in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso as part of my work as the Executive Director of Engage Burkina. This non-profit was began to help pull more resources into this incredibly under-resourced country in West Africa to provide water, schools, and opportunities for women. Seeing projects accomplished is inspiring, but it’s the people that make the efforts worth while.

One of those people is a man named Tomas Traore. He is a Pastor and Leader for hundreds of other churches as part of his denomination. He is a Board member to this non-profit. I like him because he is shorter than I am, and because he is a powerful man of prayer. Occasionally you encounter people that just seemed to have a different wave length as it applies to the supernatural. Pastor Tomas is just such a man.

I was sharing with him the story of losing my closest friend, Andrew Pray, in a cycling accident five months previous to our conversation. With another non-profit director and partner in the room as well as the site leader for Engage Burkina, John Arnold, I began weeping as I told the story. It was an ugly cry, if you know what I mean. There was no stopping the tears or controlling the octave levels of my voice. I was hot, tired, had just overcome a special version of West African Revenge in my intestines, and grief was still much closer to me than I expected.

It was in this moment that Pastor Tomas leaned over his desk and said to me, “May God give you courage.” It was the first time I have ever heard anyone associate courage with grief. I have heard and used words like comfort, peace, and strength to those in grief. That day a light went off for me, courage has been the antidote I needed for grief.

I am used to thinking of courage as standing up out of conviction for what you believe in, or having the gumption to face a fear and those are true. By definition courage is first; “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear”.

If you have only experienced grief as an emotion, or only treated it that way, courage may not make a ton of sense. However, if you have experienced the pain of grief you understand the need for courage. Emotion can sneak up on us, and can hold us back for a moment. Pain can be sharp and sudden. Pain can be a weight. It can be a dull ache you carry with you that can constantly remind you of how the wound was caused. Pain can stop you in your tracks, make you want to turn around, and lay yourself back down. It is courage that stands you back up, keeps you moving forward, and helps you face another day.

I have observed grief from afar, from up close, and watched it emerge with my own tears. For as long as I live when I approach grief I will say to myself and to others, “May God give you courage.”

Still Learning,


World Water Day 2013 (Engage Burkina)

paul at the pumpToday is World Water Day! This day was started by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) 1993 to draw attention to the fact that one in eight people in the world do not have access to clean water.

In Burkina Faso last 1 in 3.4 children die before the age of 10. For this little country in West Africa, AIDS and Malaria are real problems, but even more so are malnutrition and water born illnesses. Since 2008 we have been working with Pastors and Community Leaders in this country to try and provide clean water to as many people as possible. We have been doing this with a combination of drilled wells and hand dug wells in the poorest, most remote areas of this beautiful land.

The season when the water table is at the point that we can drill or dig new wells is from December to June. When this season is over we will have had a part in seeing 180+ wells be completed in this country. We have provided ongoing maintenance and repairs of existing work to keep clean water flowing in the communities we are investing in. We are really just getting started.

You could help us in some very simple ways. Very few people know where this country is, and it does not get the attention from NGO’s that other countries do.

1. Spread the word. Get to know us on Facebook and Twitter and share and retweet the work on Engage Burkina.

2. Create your own fundraiser on our Crowdrise page. My friend Dean Plummer is about to launch his idea of using the Boston Marathon to raise funds for Clean Water. There is also talk of a Crossfit Fundraiser, and your truly is going to do some cycling to raise some funds.

3. You can make a donation in any amount on any given day on our website. You can go here to donate,

Still Learning,


Broken Down Jesus

The Well at Fin

The Well at Fin

Around three years ago the Student Ministry at West Ridge Church partnered with Engage Burkina to put a drilled well in the village of Fin in Burkina Faso. It’s a big village and is very important to the work we are doing to spread the gospel to people who have never before heard of Jesus. I’ve pumped water from that well. I’ve drank from it. I’ve prayed with Pastor Ezekiel and his wife. West Ridge Senior Pastor Brian Bloye and his wife Amy have exchanged gifts with this Bush Pastor and his family, and Brian has visited. Then our team hears that the well is broken down.

People in the village have been told that followers of Jesus brought water to the village. The well came from Jesus because He loves them and wants them to experience His living water. When a well breaks down so does the message. What we have here is a case of ‘Broken Down Jesus’.

There are thousands of wells all over West Africa and the rest of the third world that are broken down. Many of them were drilled by faith based groups who helped meet the needs of people in dire need of clean water. That doesn’t communicate the truth that there is a God who desires to have a personal relationship with people. It communicates that God was here once. Then he left and never came back.

As Christ-followers when we lose faith, hold onto bitterness instead of practicing forgiveness, and demonstrate outwardly that there is no real difference in believing in Jesus versus anything else, the message your life should communicate breaks down. We have to allow God to repair us so that we can be useful again. None of us want those who are seeking to see a ‘broken down Jesus’.

The village witch doctor and Fin has tried to use the broken down well to draw people to his message.

When I’m wearing my non-profit director hat, I’m not content to know that money that was spent by a donor or a partner is now being wasted.

So we fix the well. It’s a $1,000 repair. We will take the opportunity to upgrade some of the material in the well, and we will demonstrate that Jesus wasn’t just here once and then he left. He’s still present. He’s still here. These people still matter. Jesus is not broken.


To find out more about Engage Burkina and to give to our effort to bring clean water to one of the poorest countries in the world, go here.

A Beautiful Gift

The non-profit I direct is experiencing a tremendous month of generosity as individuals give the gift of water for Christmas. Some are doing this in honor or in memory of friends and loved ones. But Engage Burkina does more than just water in coming alongside the people of Burkina Faso.

IMG_1170I was in Burkina in mid-November with some Pastors as part of a partnership trip with Compassion International. Along with our team members John and Betty Arnold we were able to present several people with a gift they needed most. In West Africa, there is a rare disease attributed to malnutrition causing people to go lame in almost ‘all of a sudden fashion’. In one of the poorest countries in the world where personal transportation is a premium and public transportation is non-existent these people are forced to crawl around on the dusty streets. Our partners on the ground with the Christian and Missionary Alliance have developed a solution. It’s a bike. It’s not a traditional bike, but one that can be pedaled with your hands. These bikes give dignity, and hope to people largely overlooked in an overlooked society.

IMG_1178The man in the picture crawled many miles (who knows how far in advance) to join us on this day. As part of the presentation to each recipient of the bike we would actually lift them, place them on the bikes, and have a word of prayer. It is truly a powerful experience to know you are meeting someone at their most basic level of need.

One of the leaders on this trip, Kim Harris (Leadership Strategist at West Cobb Church in Marietta, GA) shared this story, and we received a letter from someone giving a bike for this Christmas season. I thought it was truly a beautiful gift.

“Dear Engage Burkina, I am enclosing a check for Engage Burkina in memory of my husband, “Daws” who went to heaven this past July. He died after a long and physically devastating disease in which he gradually lost use of his motor skills. For the last two years he was totally dependent upon his wheelchair. When Kim Harris showed slides of the handicapped people with their new pedal-propelled bicycles I knew that I had found the perfect Christmas gift for my beloved husband! After 45 years of marriage, I knew his heart as well as my own and had he still been with us he would have wanted to give, in Jesus’ name, a gift of joy and independence to someone who needed assistance to walk. In Jesus love, Margaret”

If you want to give a gift this Christmas you can do so by visiting the Engage Burkina Story page by clicking here.


Water For Christmas

As we approach the Christmas Season (can you believe that?) I want to invite you to do something that several families have done the last couple of years. I want to invite you to give the gift of water to people in the world who need it most.

In Burkina Faso 1 in 3.4 children die before the age of 10. Many of them die from water born illnesses. Since 2008 gifts that have come from Churches, Other networks, Businesses and Individuals have helped us put 115 wells in villages in Burkina Faso.

This is not just the perfect time of year to give because we are heading towards Christmas. In Burkina right now the water table is lowering and we are approaching the most opportune season for putting a well in a village.

Consider giving in any amount. We will let you know what village your gift has impacted and provide ongoing information as well.

Film maker Frank Lozano created this video last year about Burkina, with a Christmas challenge at the end. Please share it and this message with others and help us Engage Burkina.

Bringing Water To Burkina Faso This Christmas from Engage Burkina on Vimeo.

Fill out my online form.

Praying for Burkina Today

Every Tuesday we have begun an initiative asking folks to Pray for the people of Burkina Faso and the work of Engage Burkina. Here are some requests our team put together: To get current updates from our team ‘Like’ us at or on twitter at

1. Pray for us in November which is going to be a busy month with teams, which we love. Pray for our teams to impact this country and also for their own lives to be changed and impacted also.

2. Pray for our Burkina Christians and local pastors who are looking for money to be able to send their children to school.

3. Many people are very low on food and we need to pray for and find ways to help those who are hungry while waiting for this year’s harvest to come in.

4. Pray for Betty Arnold that she will overcome her fear of driving. Her first week back in Burkina she hit a man on a moto, not her fault, but the moto was under the vehicle. Thank the Lord the man was unhurt but this has affected her and has made her more fearful of driving. 

I want to add please pray for our friend Dean Plummer. Dean is running the Chicago Marathon this weekend (October 7th) and is being supported by his employer, Tiffany and Co. Proceeds from Dean’s fundraising will go to drilling more wells in Burkina.

Everyone Belongs,


Reaching the Unreached

(Sharing the work of Engage Burkina)

Strategies are discovered in different ways. Some come by trial and error. Some come from asking the ones that have been there before and who know best. Some are wrapped in mystery. This one was wrapped in comedy.

I hope that you won’t read this and find me to be too insensitive or irreverent. In 2008 I found myself sitting in the village of Hounde in Burkina Faso. I was sitting with some friends who I will leave out of this for the moment. We were exhausted from traveling overseas and visiting villagers in Bush villages. We were staring at 5 Burkinabe Pastors and they back at us waiting on food to be prepared. Bored and tired those of us on the American side entered into a game based loosely on Mystery Science Theater. Basically the Africans would talk, and we would pretend like we knew what they were saying and we translated it for our own benefit. Soon we began putting words into our new Burkinabe friends mouths as if it were an episode of the Sopranos. We laughed uncontrollably, and they did to, although they didn’t know why.

As things settled down and the translator began to facilitate actual conversation back and forth I said, “Tell us how to help you reach those who have never heard the gospel in the villages of Burkina Faso.” The answer they gave became our strategy for reaching an unreached people group. The strategy has three parts:

1. Place a water well in a village under the care of a Pastor
2. Help us build a church building in the villages where there are Christ-followers who need a place to meet.
3. Help us evangelize a village

I don’t consider myself the smartest of missiologist. I simply asked the people I wanted to reach, ‘What’s it going to take?’ Most importantly we empower them to dig the wells, build the churches, and show films and tell stories to evangelize. Teams can come participate in this, but the work continues on from our indigenous friends on an ongoing basis.

That was in 2008. As of 2012 there are 20 churches in villages where the Pugli people live. More than 2,000 Christ-followers were reported to be attending those churches as of a year ago. There are tens of thousands of unreached people who are without water and without the gospel.

You can partner with us to help build wells, churches, classrooms, or send a team at

Paul Richardson
Engage Burkina

What Am I Doing?

Some people around West Ridge Church have noticed my title change, and a couple of other guys too on our church staff. Pastor Brian Bloye referenced the change in a service in August. This has led people to ask the question; ‘What is it you do again?” Like all Pastors I only work one day a week, 🙂 but here is what I will be doing. This is long for a blog post. It’s a little self-indulgent, but its my blog so humor me.


Since the Summer of 2007 I have been the Local and Global Outreach Pastor at West Ridge Church and the Director of Engage Atlanta when it began in 2008. Like many people on our staff I have had the opportunity to wear different hats. The life of the church the last couple of years has required a little extra out of many of us. During this time it has been clear that only so many hats fit on one head. Even a melon as big as mine. Pastor Brian and the Leadership at West Ridge have given me the opportunity to pray over what hats to wear, and I have understood God to be calling me in a bit of a different direction.


Going forward I will be serving West Ridge as the Pastor of Ministry and Leadership Development. What does that mean? It means that I get to work with the Ministries at our East Location (Family Ministries and Groups) and help set them up for success. Leadership Development is a new piece that will focus on creating a culture of Leadership Development among our ministries and help to create a clearer pathway of spiritual growth for our volunteers. I continue to be a Pastor, Leader, and Shepherd at West Ridge and serve the congregation towards becoming more fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.


Kevin Dunlap will be the Director of Outreach for West Ridge, Engage Atlanta, and Launch Atlanta. Formerly Kevin was the Administrator for West Ridge. I have known Kevin and Stephanie and their family for over 10 years. Global Missions is a huge part of his personal story. When Kevin sees the poor and the hurting his heart goes out. He has volunteered his own time (not vocational staff time) to serve in the Local Community over the years. He has a gift for seeing the plans of other leaders, like business entrepreneurs and Church Planters, and helping to make them even better than what was proposed.  It’s a blessing from God to transition the leadership of this work to a friend who has the capability of taking this light years beyond where I have had it.


Being a part of Local Outreach, Disaster Relief, and Hope For Christmas has been a thrill. Serving and praying with leaders in Global Outreach has stretched and grown me personally like nothing else. It’s been a privilege to be a part of Engage Atlanta and the Community Makeover and helping to pull that off every year. I’m not yet done with non-profit work. One other quick thing I want to share for prayer and clarity.


When we filed Engage Atlanta’s non-profit paperwork in 2008 we included the opportunity for other churches to give to our work in Burkina Faso, West Africa. For a while this has been a subsidiary of Engage Atlanta, called Engage Burkina. As the work in Burkina has grown churches, businesses, and individuals from all over the country have been giving to help pull off wells, churches, classrooms at schools, sponsoring children, and other humanitarian aid. It has grown to the point of needing to be its own entity.


For that reason we have pulled Engage Burkina out from under the umbrella of Engage Atlanta and it is now its own non-profit, with its own board, accounting, etc. I am playing the role of Director of Engage Burkina as a separate non-profit. This non-profit started because of the work of West Ridge Church and the leadership of Brian Bloye. West Ridge will continue to partner and drive initiatives in Burkina through the Global Missions office and leadership of Kevin Dunlap, but may not partner with everything Engage Burkina is doing. Bottom line is that if you want to get involved in Global Missions at West Ridge, including coming to Burkina, Kevin is your ‘huckleberry’.


The rest of the leaders at West Ridge give me the freedom to work on Engage Burkina as a secondary role to what I do at the church. I am very thankful for that.


This change actually took place months ago. We thought it would be better as leaders to incubate things for a while and make a slow hand off. We all treasure your prayers and your partnership going forward.



Pray For Burkina

I’ve always liked Tuesday. It’s the 3rd day of the week. The only day God blessed twice. Now, I want to challenge you to use Tuesday in a bit of a different way.

I have always believed that prayer is more important than we can begin to understand. Truly, prayer is a great mystery. From experience I have learned that it helps shape us, humble us, and conform our thoughts to the will of God. More than that I have become convinced of a truth that I have heard from Pastors since I was a kid. I’m not sure who said it first, but “Nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer.”

I also believe that though God is self-suffient, He chooses to accomplish His work through people, and prayer is the beginning of any work.

Watchman Nee said it this way, “God’s people must pray before God Himself will rise up and work.” He would go on to say, “God is willing to condescend Himself to such a position of taking delight in fulfilling His will through His children.”

When I first visited Burkina Faso in 2007, Pastor Tomas of the Central Church in Ouagadougou, told me “We handicap ourselves without prayer.”

With those thoughts as a backdrop I would like to ask those of you who love Burkina, and who love to see the gospel go forward to pray for Burkina at 3:00 pm (EST) on Tuesday afternoons. Why then? Of course, you can pray any time. Just knowing that many would be emphasizing Tuesday would be great enough. At 3:00 pm Eastern the Central Church in Ouagadougou is in the midst of their weekly prayer meeting. Praying at 3pm on Tuesday will unite the voices of not only those who have been and will go, but also unite us with the Burkinabe leaders we are serving and helping to reach their own people.

Leading up to Tuesday each week our team will offer up request for themselves, for current ministry situations, for breakthrough, for the Kingdom of God to come and His will be done in Burkina Faso. We will post the prayer needs on our facebook wall at If it is too long for a wall post we will post a link back to the blog portion of our web page. While you are on facebook take the time to let our team know you are praying with and for them. It will be a tremendous encouragement.

So put this in your iCal, Google calendar, or MS Outlook, but have something give you a reminder to pray each week at this time. Knowing then you pray in unison with many other voices. Beyond that, pray every day for Burkina Faso.

Everyone Belongs,