The year was 1998.
Amanda Richardson was sure she had never met this guy before. Her friends, however, were skeptical.
Nathan Devena was experiencing the same problem. He also knew that he had never met this girl at his cousin’s wedding. Yet, their group of mutual friends remained convinced that they had.
When Nathan & Amanda finally met, they did not persuade anyone that they were indeed strangers, but they did discover their unique connection – Amanda’s parents & Nathan’s uncle were Village Missionaries!
After a few years of friendship and dating, Nathan & Amanda were finally married in 2001.
A Family Business
Amanda was born and raised in the Village Missions world. Her parents, Russell & Linda Richardson, joined Village Missions in 1976, and currently serve in Sauvie Island, Oregon.
Although she grew up as VM kid, returning to her roots for ministry was not her initial plan.
“People ask me if being a Village Missionary was my goal. No!” says Amanda.“I never expected to be doing ministry through Village Missions. It’s like I’m back home.”
After experiencing the Village Missions life in 3 different fields, Amanda graduated high school and started her studies at Ecola Bible College.
Although he did not attend Ecola, Nathan and Amanda met through their group of mutual friends during this time.
Nathan’s Uncle, Bill Devena, was a Village Missionary for 32 years. Nathan’s family originally came to the Pacific Northwest to help his Uncle Bill build a church in Skamania, Washington.
However, Nathan did not become familiar with Village Missions until he met Amanda in their late teens. Humorously, Nathan did not even realize that his Uncle Bill was a Village Missions pastor until after he and Amanda were married!
Now newlyweds and wanting to work in ministry, the Devenas began serving at Sauvie Island Community Church along with her family.
The Devenas served at Sauvie Island for several years while Nathan worked as letter carrier and Amanda was a barista. But, they always had the feeling that God was calling them into full-time ministry.
Upon graduating from Servant’s Bible School in 2014, they knew they wanted to be involved in “hands-on” ministry. Amanda desired to use her talents in music to help lead worship, and Nathan’s tech background would certainly come in handy (especially in a small church!). Because of their experience in Village Missions churches, they were naturally open to rural missions.
In the summer of 2016, after months of prayer and careful reflection, their moment of clarity came.
“I believe the Lord is calling us to full-time ministry with Village Missions,” Nathan said confidently.
Amanda replied with equal assurance, “I think so, too.”
And in the spring of 2017, they were accepted as Village Missionaries!
Exactly Where We Need To Be
Blodgett, a small community of 50 people, has a country store, a two-room school house, and the church. Generations of work in the logging industry endow the locals with a fiercely proud and independent spirit, leaving many seeing no reason for God in their lives.
Despite the town’s rough exterior, Blodgett Community Church is there to help grow and make disciples, both inside and outside the church.
One of the ways their congregation has been recently challenged to grow is through Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI), which brings a crowd of around 20 each Wednesday evening.
Perhaps future Village Missionaries will come forth as a result!
“Small church ministry is often so overlooked,” says Nathan.“Reaching souls for Christ in unchurched, or underchurched America is paramount. Building churches or helping them get healthy is something that VM cares about, and so do we.”
Nathan & Amanda’s small business, Blodgett Coffee Roasters, has also been a great ministry in the surrounding communities. Each week they give away bags of freshly roasted coffee, which allows them to start conversations with locals at nearby farmer’s markets!
From the success of their coffee business, to the faithfulness of their congregation, Nathan & Amanda are proud to be Village Missionaries, and continue to be amazed by God’s guidance and direction in their lives.
“We can’t imagine doing anything else. There is peace knowing that you are where God wants you to be. And He wants us to be here in Blodgett.”