Portrait of a Pastor

In loving memory of Richard John Maybery

30 June 1959 – 3 June 2014

The Early Years

Richard, the eldest of Clive and Vilma Maybery’s three children, was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In the dedication of his second book, One Thing I Desire: Experiencing the Presence of God, Richard honours his parents as the ones who “taught me the value of vision and pursuing my dreams”, something that marked his short life.

Clive was a well-known, successful property developer in Port Elizabeth, while Vilma was a nursing sister. Richard inherited both his father’s entrepreneurial and business ability and his mother’s interest in healing, the latter developing later in his life.

Richard was a Grey boy, completing his schooling at this prestigious boys’ school. It was here that he became a competitive swimmer, winning both his provincial and national colours. In 1977, his matric year, he set an Olympic qualifying time. Because South Africa had been expelled from the International Olympic Committee, Richard would only have been eligible to compete at the Olympic Games if he had accepted a US sports scholarship to live and train there, in the hope of selection. He chose, instead, to remain in South Africa.

In his blog, Stephen Scheff, a fellow swimmer, remembers Richard, a “great swimmer; wonderful fellow”:

“My swimming buddy’s family lived across the street from the Grey High School swimming pool; and, when our coach, Tom Connell, decided that we would have triple sessions (invariably during holiday breaks when I would join my old team [in from the U.S.]) – we would always go across the street to Richard’s place where his Mum would cook us eggs, bacon, sausages and toast: to re-energize us and get us ready for the midday practice. After being filled-to-our-gills by Mrs. M, we would lie about in various stages of consciousness listening to Zeppelin’s ‘Houses of the Holy’ and Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s ‘Brain Salad Surgery’ … The Maybery home became the ‘team home’ and somehow this all added up to Richard eventually becoming a minister …

“Farewell RM, I’m betting you are one-of-the-fastest breaststrokers in that heavenly pool …” (The Doctor’s Inn: An Oasis from Chaos, 19 July 2014)

The focus and discipline Richard learned as a successful, competitive athlete stood him in good stead throughout his life. And, as Stephen recalls, his love of good food and music remained lifelong passions.

The Young Man

After he matriculated, Richard completed his compulsory military service, something he deeply regretted in later life as his understanding of the realities of apartheid grew. An important aspect of his understanding of the kingdom of God was the emphasis Christ placed on righteousness, justice, equality and healing for all in every aspect of life. This became the truth he lived, taught and preached as he sought to be part of the answer to the undoing of the legacy of apartheid in South Africa.

Richard moved to Durban in 1983. He entered the business world – and proved that he could make a success of this. But God had other plans and purposes for his life. He met Jacqui Legemaate – a beautiful, intelligent, godly woman – who challenged him with the reality and vibrancy of her faith in Christ. Alone in his flat one evening, Richard had a life-changing encounter with God.

Richard and Jacqui were married in May 1985. Shortly after that, God spoke to him through Isaiah 61:1–3, calling him into full-time ministry:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendour.”

The Minister, and the Family Man

In response to this calling, Richard and Jacqui moved to Grahamstown in 1986, where Richard started his Bachelor of Theology degree at Rhodes University. His beloved son, Gregory, was born in his third year. At four weeks, Greg slept peacefully through his first jazz concert at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival.

After his graduation, Richard, Jacqui and Greg moved to Somerset West, where he completed the practical requirements for ordination in the Presbyterian Church under the oversight of Martin Lund. Jessica, the apple of her dad’s eye, was born there in 1990.

In 1991, the family moved to Port Elizabeth, where Richard was ordained by the Presbyterian Church. He spent two years with the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Walmer.

While still at Rhodes, Richard realised that he wanted more than an academic training. Impacted by John Wimber’s books and teachings, he wanted to see and experience the work of the Holy Spirit. In his earnest pursuit of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, and his deep longing for revival, his meeting with Derek Morphew was instrumental in him joining the Association of Vineyard Churches of South Africa.

In 1993, the family relocated to Cape Town. Richard led the Camps Bay Vineyard, a new church plant that met in the Camps Bay High School hall. This congregation became the Metro Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Located now in the City Bowl, they served those in their immediate environment. Richard pastored this congregation for six years.

During this time, Richard began to move more powerfully in the prophetic and healing. Along with Derek Morphew and John Fischer, he was involved in starting a Vineyard School of Ministry, writing modules and teaching students.

Richard felt that God was calling him to the nations. For the next three years, under the covering of John Fischer and the New Life Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Pinelands, Cape Town, he embarked on an itinerant ministry, travelling to the United Kingdom and Europe. In 1999, he published his first book, Preparing for Revival. This was to become his life message – equipping the church to move in signs and wonders and preparing for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

On 1 July 2000, Richard accepted the call as senior pastor to the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Tygerberg – now The Father’s House Christian Fellowship, a member of Partners In Harvest – in Bellville, Cape Town. This was the spiritual home where he spent the last fourteen years of his ministry.

Part of the legacy he leaves is the healing community he helped establish. The number of effective healing ministries bears testimony to the high value Richard placed on the healing of the whole person. Many of us remember encounters with him around his wooden bowl, when he washed our feet and prayed for us.

Richard was deeply committed to raising up sons and daughters in the house – as a father and mentor. We all tasted his immense generosity of spirit and his capacity to give ministry away to raise up the next generations of leaders. He often said: “May my ceiling be your floor.”

Richard was the director of the Vineyard Prophetic School and the founder of Restoration Ministries. He was the director of Catch the Fire Ministries Africa, and closely involved in the School of Ministry.

The Lifelong Learner, Mentor and Teacher

When, as a theology student, Richard applied the fierce discipline and perseverance he had learned as a successful competitive swimmer, his passion to learn was insatiable. He later completed his MTh and PhD in Pastoral Theology. His third book, Recovering Lost Ground: A Biblical Response to Loss, was published in 2013.

Richard loved the Scriptures. Not only was he a profound preacher and teacher – modelling himself on the great Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and steeping himself in the works of the Puritans and the great Revivalists – but a voracious reader, an acute observer, a strategic thinker, a pioneer, and a visionary leader.

The more he learned, the greater became his desire to impart his knowledge to those most in need of theological training, mentoring and support. Richard was the founder and principal of the Berean Theological College in Siliguri, India. He stated in his blog that he “has a particular heart for India and Africa”. It is significant that his last ministry trip was to Kenya, to the pastors and congregations he loved dearly. He planted churches locally, and mentored pastors in Africa and around the world. The leaders he raised up bear testimony to this.

Richard Morschel, pastor of Kingdom Life Frankfurt, Germany, shared the following on Facebook:

“It is with the greatest sadness that we have to inform you that our dear friend, mentor and spiritual father, Richard Maybery, passed away this morning, 03 June 2014 at 05:20, after a short struggle with cerebral malaria. Richard journeyed with us for 15 years and has had a significant impact on our lives. Words cannot express the loss that we feel.”

Rinki Garung, who heads up the Berean Theological College, remembered Richard as follows on Facebook on his birthday, 30 June 2014:

“Today a great man of God was born who impacted many servants of God in the world. He had a great passion and love for India. I remember a day he picked me and made me someone today. He put confidence in my life to do ministry with the power of God. He established www.bereancollegeindia.org in Siliguri and went to be with the Lord last month. He has left a great testimony among us and I just wanna take this time to thank God for bringing us together to build kingdom of God in India and the world. Your investment in my life will be never forgotten. Love you always.”

Ending Well

One of Richard’s favourite quotations was:

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” – John Piper

Richard wrote in his blog that he:

“… believes strongly in ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit, the call to evangelise the lost and the need to be satisfied in God alone.”

We honour Richard John Maybery and thank God for his life. His legacy lives on in all who were touched by his life and ministry.