LITTLE did one man realise what started off as a terrifying lone trip to Africa would lead to a ministry mission that would extend to more than 20 countries.
Yet this is exactly what the Rev Richard Brunton – the mastermind behind Living Hope Ministries – has achieved in the past 17 years.
Now, to mark Living Hope’s success, Richard has co-written a book about how the project started up and how it now includes preaching to the masses in Africa via a mobile phone and featuring on TV and radio channels.
Richard, of Carisbrooke Road, Lancing, said: “I hope it helps people see how from very fragile beginnings something has grown.”
Living Hope did not have an easy start – with the idea coming about after Richard was made redundant from his church.
In 1994, Richard, a father of five sons, was the vicar at Lancing’s Grace Church, now Worthing’s Jubilee Church, but was told the 40-50-strong congregation did not warrant a full-time vicar.
He said: “It was a bit of a shock having left teaching to go into full-time Christian work as I assumed I was gong to be there for the rest of my life.”
Unsure what to do, he decided to follow his friend’s suggestion and go to Africa for three weeks and preach.
“I was not meant to be on my own but when I was at the airport the man’s wife came running up to me to say he could not come and I would have to go on my own,” Richard said.
“I had never been to Africa before. All I had was a piece of paper with one name and a telephone number. It was quite an adventure.” While there, a number of preaching opportunities came up leading to the start of Living Hope Ministries.
Richard, 62, said: “God said he would do a new thing and he certainly has. That trip in Africa was everything – it was exciting, terrifying and overwhelming.”
Thanks to the support of his wife, Elaine, sons and supporters of Living Hope, the mission has expanded and now covers four continents, including countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Poland, Bulgaria, India, and Ecuador.
From preaching to 40 to 50 people in a church, he now preaches to 1,000 people at a time.
Local churches which support him include Goring Baptist, Lancing Tabernacle, Durrington’s New Life Church, Worthing Elim Christian Fellowship, Shoreham Baptist Church and Small Dole Christian Fellowship.
Friend and local author Pam Weaver helped Richard write the book, entitled One Name One Number. Richard said: “She said to me one day ‘I really feel your story needs to be written’ and I thought okay. We used her literacy skills to give it a wider interest.”