A Conversation With Richmond Wandera

Do you remember Richmond? He’s one of the Wess Stafford-Moody Bible Institute Scholarship recipients Celina told you about.

Do you have 21 minutes? If so, you’ll be hard-pressed not to be impressed by this humble man.

Greg Nettle, senior pastor of Rivertree Christian Church, conducts the interview.

Watch Richmond Wandera and subscribe to Compassion YouTube for more stories.

Continue Reading ›

The Favor

Hey! Remember me?

Well, I just wanted to share another quick story about what it is like to work with the Leadership Development Program* (LDP) grads.

Something that I have learned in my job is that I’m not necessarily supposed to meet every need but to find people who can. In that way, I serve more as a catalyst than anything else. I guess the way I see it is — if no one else can do it, then I am able!

man in yellow shirt and black jacketSo that is what happened when Richmond Wandera, LDP grad and Moody Scholarship recipient, was headed to the United States to begin his studies.

I had arranged all of Richmond’s travel plans but hadn’t been able to find someone to pick him up from Denver International Airport. However, my husband and I were available, so we headed off for what turned out be quite an adventure.

Richmond had been traveling all night with no rest. He flew into Denver from Uganda, by way of Belgium, to spend a few days at the Compassion Global Ministry Center before heading to Moody. All of the belongings he would need for the next three years were in his possession. He was leaving behind his family, and we would later learn, his girlfriend whom he intends to marry.

I made a sign that said “Welcome Richmond” because I didn’t know what he looked like, only that his skin was brown, and I figured he would look lost.

I pressed my way to the front of the crowd waiting for incoming passengers and proudly held up my sign, while my husband, Andy, sat back and laughed at me — not wanting to be associated with my dorkiness.

I actually saw Richmond immediately. He did look somewhat lost, yet he also appeared totally confident as he headed up the escalator and immediately saw my sign (he said later that my sign meant a lot!).

Andy and I got out from the crowd and both hugged and welcomed Richmond. We chatted politely about his flight and went to look for his bags, which we learned were lost in transit. Figures! We filed a claim for the lost bags and prayed they would be located.

Richmond was hungry, and Andy and I had waited to eat, so we attempted to ask him which kind of food he would like. He said Mexican, so we went to Chipotle — I mean, what better Mexican experience is there?

He was amazed at the amount of food and could not get over the fact that refills on Coke were free. (I’ll try to get him to tell you that story.)

It was at Chipotle when I realized that we were on holy ground, because Richmond was such a joy and a delight for us to spend time with.

After dinner we headed back to Colorado Springs. About 25 miles from the airport, baggage services called to tell us that Richmond’s bags were (miraculously) at the airport. So we turned around and went to get his bags.

Let me just tell you that by this point I was grateful I would get another 50 minutes with this guy.

Richmond is kind and gracious and had no problem answering all of my 1,000 questions, even though he had been traveling for who knows how many hours.

He shared openly about the struggles he grew up with and the help that Compassion brought to his family and his community.

I think as a Compassion sponsor it is a special thing to hear first hand about the work that Compassion is doing. That’s why, even as a Compassion employee, I felt it was such a blessing to be with Richmond.

All year long we send in our $32 a month and get our letters — but to HEAR it! To SEE it lived out in someone who has overcome! It was an overwhelming experience of joy, and I know my husband and I are forever changed.

The reality is that I thought I was doing Richmond (and God) a favor by picking him up from the airport on that day. What I learned is that God was doing me a favor by giving me time with one of His kids — one who He is madly in love with.

I hope that you someday too will have an opportunity like this . . . and I’m pretty sure that if you keep reading this blog — you may! 🙂

*This content honors our historical Leadership Development Program. To learn more about our current youth development opportunities, click here.

Continue Reading ›

We Shall Overcome

Recently, a great privilege and opportunity came my way. As it goes in the workplace, something happens or someone leaves, and all of a sudden you find out you have a new project on your hands.

My project was the first-ever Wess Stafford Moody Bible Institute scholarship that was awarded to three of our Leadership Development Program* (LDP) graduates.

Oh yeah, my name is Celina, and I work in marketing on the events team. Working with LDP graduates was a little out of my realm of expertise, but I was up for the challenge!

we-shall-overcomeAs I was being told about my role, three LDP grads –- Michelle Sheba Tolentino (Philippines), Richmond Wandera (Uganda) and Tony Beltran Morales (Dominican Republic) were headed to the United States, and nobody could really tell me what my role was actually going to be.

Everything with the Moody scholarship program is brand new territory for us. In the beginning, my job was to ask a whole lot of questions. And now, I realize that my job has been to break ground.

I don’t consider myself good at ground breaking, but every job I have had for the past 10 years has involved some sort of ground breaking. I don’t really like it. But I must be good at it because God keeps assigning me to it.

Anyway, the Moody scholars are here and have been for four months now, and I have to say that I think they are the most amazing people in the world!

They are smart; way smarter than me. They are kind. They are funny. And they know an aspect of God’s character that I will never know in all my days on this earth.


Because little children see His face, and although Michelle, Richmond and Tony have overcome poverty, they have seen His face in their darkest moments and lived to share it.

I have never met an LDP grad that hasn’t remained childlike in the best way.

I’ve met a student whose father was murdered. I’ve met students called ugly and useless by their families — rejected and scorned — and have all seen His face. And overcome.

The Bible says that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

Now, these three LDP graduates are earning masters degrees while sharing their testimonies all over the United States and Canada. They are overcoming, and we are blessed to be a part of it!

*This content honors our historical Leadership Development Program. To learn more about our current youth development opportunities, click here.

Continue Reading ›