In the morning of 3rd May 1987 our much beloved brother Richard Dawson (Senhor Ricardo) calmly passed on into the presence of the Lord, at the ripe age of 92 years.
Richard Dawson Jones was born in the city of Nottingham in England on 17th April 1895, and since his childhood heard the Bible reading and sermons in the church where he went with his parents. He assiduously attended Sunday school where later on he taught a class for young people.
However he did not yet have experience of new birth. Perhaps as a consequence of the secular instruction he received, as he was trained to be a teacher, he had doubts as to the full inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and even as to the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
During the so-called “First Word War” (1914-1918) our brother was called up by the British army and, perhaps thinking about the danger of losing his life, he started to seriously consider spiritual life. In his mind everything turned around only one point: is Christ the true Son of God? If the answer is yes, then all that He said about Himself is true and we must accept Him and obey what He commands.
He was disturbed for some time by this thought, until he admitted that Christ was, in fact, the Son of God, God in the flesh, who had come into the world and died to save it, and confessed Him as the Lord of his life. Then a problem of conscience came up: as a Christian he did not wish to take up arms, though he understood his duty to serve his country. He therefore entered the Red Cross so that he might help to save lives instead of taking them away.
In the battlefield he came to know a young man called William Thompson, of whom he became a great friend. This person was a faithful Christian, and one of the leaders of the work of Bible study and prayer among the soldiers.
During these studies our brother Ricardo saw all the doubts still remaining in his mind answered through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. He understood that the Lord Jesus stated that the Old Testament was the Word of God which cannot fail, being therefore worthy of our absolute trust just as the New Testament. He was also instructed about baptism, to which all true Christians must submit after conversion, and happily took this step of obedience.
On returning from the war he was accepted in fellowship by the assembly in Clumber Hall, in Nottingham, by whom he was commended to missionary service later on, to which he felt called by the Lord.
He was married on 5th July 1924 to our late sister Mary Ellen Stones (1899-1982) and from this union their children Richard David, William Paulo, and Grace Minnie were born.
It was on 14th November 1925 that our brother with his young and beautiful wife embarked in the port of Liverpool towards Brazil. Intense cold, drizzle and fog gave the ambience a touch of deep sadness while they parted from beloved brethren and relatives to the sound of the hymn “The Solid Rock”.
But the certainty of the call of the Lord and of His constant presence brought comfort to the young couple, warmed their hearts and gave them strength to renounce everything for the joy of taking the message of the Lord beyond the frontiers of their homeland.
They disembarked in Rio de Janeiro on the 4th December 1925 and they were there received by brother Edward Percy Ellis (1879-1963). During a short stage in Rio de Janeiro they sought the guidance of the Lord as to the place where He wished to send them and almost inexplicably they ended up arriving in Uberaba-MG, which was at that time a small town in the Triangle of the State of Minas Gerais. They arrived there in September 1926. Facing much opposition our brother witnessed and preached, and by the grace of God formed an assembly which is still there today, now meeting at Rua da Constituição, 52.
In January 1942 our brother moved to the town of Piracicaba-SP and in March 1948 to São Paulo-SP. In 1957 he returned to Piracicaba-SP, where he remained until the end of his career.
His proficient ministry was developed in various areas: the pulpit, the written page, the radio and personal communication. Having a deep knowledge of the Word of God and being a perfect master in its exposition, brother Sr. Ricardo was an instrument in God’s hands to edify countless assemblies and individual believers through his masterly teaching, as well as leading many souls to the feet of the Saviour.
His heart of shepherd was always concerned with the well being of the people of God, both in the spiritual and temporal aspect. In Uberaba, São Paulo and Piracicaba, cities of markedly uneven topography, our brother walked a lot, with his swollen leg, along with his wife, to take a word of love, comfort and guidance to members of God's family.
While physically able he attended invitations to minister the Word of God in Bible conferences or retreats, having travelled through several states of Brazil for this purpose. His voice was heard in many homes through the radio, taking the Gospel message. Possessing the "pen of a skilled writer" he contributed a lot with his writing for the spread of the Gospel and for the instruction of the believers.
In 1940 he founded "The Alarm Clock", a vehicle of evangelical propaganda which circulated for some time. From 1948 to 1956 he became director of the evangelistic periodical "The Gladiator", founded by a group of young people of the assembly in Vila Clementino in São Paulo.
At this time he introduced in Brazil the Emmaus Bible courses, now so well known and widespread. And the journals of Christian edification "Watch and Pray", "The Path of the Christian", as well as the missionary magazine "IDE", had the privilege of publishing his wise and uplifting articles.
For many years he collaborated with the Sunday School-RJ magazine for which he wrote one quarter per year. In his later years he wrote several commentaries on the epistles, with which many believers of Brazil, Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries have benefited.
Our brother remained active until his last week on earth, when he gave a Bible study, took an active part in the prayer meeting, attended visits and wrote letters. And until the last moments of his life in his hospital bed, he was evangelizing the doctor who attended him.
This scribe was with him almost to the last moments of his life and received from him the responsibility to forward the following message:. "Convey my love to the church. Tell them I'm quite lucid and aware of my departure. I do not leave with sadness. nor regret, but I am cheerful and happy, not for leaving them, but because I go to my Lord. Not that I deserve it, but the Lord saved me many years ago, washing me with His blood and forgiving my sins, thus guaranteeing me a place in His presence. Convey my love also to all brethren and companions with whom I had the privilege of maintaining fellowship in all these long years." Without a doubt, his departure was a major loss in the ranks of the Christian Militia.
We thank the Lord for the life of our beloved brother Sr. Ricardo and for the extraordinary example he left us. Godliness, selflessness and simplicity were marked traits in his character. Only eternity will reveal in its fullness the fruits of his hard work in Brazil during the 62 years of his stay among us.
He who writes these lines was, perhaps more than anyone, blessed through the ministry of that brother, who was to him a loving father, a faithful friend, a competent teacher, a wise counsellor and a loyal companion. Soon "He who is coming will come and will not tarry" (Hebrews 10:37). Then we will meet again, never more to be apart. Hallelujah! Maranatha! COME LORD JESUS!
Editors' note in "Boletim dos Obreiros"
"We love Him because He first loved us" (1st John 4:19).
"Watching you in your good works" (1st Peter 2:12).
"As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead" (James 2:26).
May our faith be living and active, producing the fruits that will be to the glory of God.
Published by R David Jones (his son)