Richard grew up in Philadelphia, PA and received Christ as a 21-year-old through a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In 1981, he completed his M.Div through the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, and in 2011 he received his doctorate in missiology from Western Seminary. After marrying his wife Janice in 1985, the two moved to Portland, OR, where they learned about Wycliffe Bible Translators. From 1991-2005, Rich and Janice lived in Nigeria as translators with Wycliffe, working on the Izere New Testament and raising their family. Through his various experiences with Wycliffe, The Seed Company (a division of Wycliffe Bible Translators), and studying for his doctorate, Rich saw a deep need to follow up with new believers as they grew in their Christian faith. Evangelism and follow-up quickly became a passion of Rich, and in 2013 he took steps to form Firm Foundation in Christ Ministries.
A native Portlander, Rick graduated from Multnomah and Mt. Hood CC, then got his Master’s degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he studied Old Testament languages/text/theology and cross-cultural ministry. Following several pastorates, God enrolled him in some lengthy retraining in the wilderness about spirituality, humility, and compassion. A recovering Pharisee, Rick is still learning about the relationship of grace and truth, and about effective individual and small-group ministry. He currently worships and serves at Imago Dei Community in Portland. Besides his work with FFICM, Rick is on staff at Ginidiri Theological Seminary, a pastoral training college near Jos with over 600 students, as visiting lecturer in pastoral theology. While on his way to western Ethiopia, Rick sensed that God was calling him to partner with Peter Wash in the work of FFICM; After three weeks of participating in trainings in Tarawa State in October alongside Peter, Rich appointed him to staff.
Dara Searcy-Gardner — Intl. Director of Communications
Dara grew up in Jos, Nigeria. She moved to the US when she was eighteen to go to college for vocal performance, and after completing her BMus, went on to complete a masters in theology at Houghton College. She focused her study on the intersection between personal faith, theology, and culture. After graduating, she worked in a Methodist church in Forest Grove, Oregon as Ministry Associate. In this position she led the discipleship program, the youth group, and planned outreach events. While working at the church, she also worked with Rich as he moved from doctoral research to developing material, doing trainings and ultimately forming FFICM. Helping to develop materials and interviewing people to tell their stories intersected powerfully with Dara’s passion for people to have intimate, lasting relationships with Jesus, and her love for and loyalty to people who risk everything to reach out to others for the gospel. Eventually she felt called to join the ministry, and currently serves as Director of Communications.
Nicole Miller — Intl. Communications Coordinator
Peter Wash — Nigeria National Director
Peter has a BA in Missions and Evangelism, as well as a National Certificate of Education. He worked with the Great Commission Movement with the Jesus Film team from 1996-2001, and with CREI ministries from 2003-2016 as a trainer and supervisor. He joined FFICM as Nigeria Coordinator in May of 2016. Peter loves training people and raising up disciples who can call others to Christ and establish them in their faith. He is filled with hope by seeing people changed by practicing what he teaches in FFICM trainings. Many have given their lives to Christ as a result of his sharing his faith, and it gives him great joy!
Dr. Eyasu Malsamo –– Ethiopian National Coordinator
Eyasu received his BA in Theology in 1995 when God opened the door for him to go to school in Ethiopia. He served as dean and director at a Bible college for four years, before going onto graduate school. While working on his Masters in Theology, he served as a training coordinator for the Bible Training Center for Pastors and Leaders. After six years of ministry, God made way for Eyasu to the United States to study Missiology. This is where he met and studied alongside Richard Gardner. Eyasu always talked about evangelism, while Rich always discussed followup and training. As these two things are on the two sides of a single coin, their hearts joined together. After graduation, Rich went to Ethiopia to see the evangelist ministry Eyasu was involved with and, together, they began to train Ethiopian evangelists. Eyasu’s hope is to see all Ethiopian churches being discipled; he is thankful to be working with FFICM to achieve this crucial work.
Eskinder Alemayehu — International Trainer
Eskinder grew up in a conservative Ethiopian Orthodox Church family, and came to know Christ in his teenage years through discussions with a school friend and has been serving the Lord in ministry ever since.
He feels called to minister to the unreached people groups in Ethiopia through evangelistic ministry. He attended Bible college, and was appointed Evangelist and Church Ministry Coordinator of his local church after graduation. After working for seven years with the local church, Eskinder accepted the call to serve at a national level–becoming a coordinator of the Church planters training program in the missions department.
Currently, he is coordinating over a hundred and twenty-five training centers of the Church planters all over Ethiopia, in two different languages. Eskinder is also producing training materials for Church leaders, pastors, evangelists, and ministers to evangelize, equip, disciple, and make leaders in the process of Church planting. Four years ago, Eskinder assisted FFICM in translating training material from English to Amharic, and was deeply compelled by the organization’s mission and ministry. Since then he has served alongside FFICM, desiring to equip as many people as possible to evangelize, follow-up and train new believers in Ethiopia, Africa, and all over the world.
Belay Sugamo — EKHC Media Evangelism and Church Planting Ministry Coordinator (FFICM partner in Ethiopia)
He has a BA degree on Leadership Development from Mekaneyesus Seminary, and is looking forward to starting his Masters program on Intercultural Leadership through Bethany International University’s online program. Growing up, his parents were Orthodox and Belay came to receive Christ Jesus as his lord and savior through a friend in 1996. In 1990, he moved to Debrezeyit and joined Kriftu Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development and Children Center, where he worked as Logistics and Supply Manager for 13 years. After that, he moved to EKHC’s national office, Addis Ababa mission department Media Evangelism ministry–he has been working as a coordinator for the ministry since 2001. He is glad to be a partner with Firm Foundation in Christ Ministries, because FFICM’s training program is very effective and fruitful to evangelism and church planting ministry. Belay is excited about continuing to work together with FFICM to impact his country.