Prop. Averil Lewis-Richards was born and raised in the community of Steenberg a southern suburb in Cape Town. She is married to Victor Richards, manager at Lucky Star in St. Helena Bay, and they are the proud parents of two sons, Elijah (20), a second-year student in BSc at UWC, and Ezekiel (17), a grade 12 learner at Curro Langebaan who awaits his matric results and intends to study theology.

Tell us more about your birthplace and the key individuals who greatly influenced your formative years.

“I grew up in Steenberg, a community grappling with issues such as unemployment, a lack of participation in positive social and cultural building, and the increasing prevalence of substance abuse, among other challenges.

“Nevertheless, my upbringing took place in a Christian home where attending church services was a non-negotiable aspect of our routine. At the tender age of eight, my father passed away, leaving my mother to fulfill the roles of both parents. She became my source of inspiration – a woman characterized by strength, faith, power, and a unique sense of purpose.

“My mother played a pivotal role in shaping my values by imparting teachings about Christ, instilling moral values, and encouraging my active involvement in church activities. She also emphasized the importance of spending time in prayer and studying the word of God. One verse that held special significance for me was Psalms 119:105, which states, ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.’ This verse encouraged me to focus on the promises of God and meditate on His word.

“Prayer became a vital aspect of my life, serving as a demonstration of my complete reliance on God. Through these foundational experiences, I learned the importance of faith, moral integrity, and the transformative power of a steadfast relationship with God.”

What is the story behind your spiritual journey and the transformative moments that brought you to a personal understanding and connection with Christ?

“At the end of my confirmation period, spanning two years, we as catechism candidates convened with the church council for a test of our Bible knowledge. Growing up in a Christian household, I found no difficulty in responding to the various biblical inquiries posed by the council. However, it was with the final question, ‘Do you know Jesus as your personal Saviour?’ that I realized I had never made such a commitment.

“In an act of obedience to God, at the age of sixteen, I opened my heart that evening, inviting Jesus Christ in and accepting Him as my personal Lord and Saviour. This marked the beginning of a new life as God’s child (John 3:3). Being a child of God signifies the forgiveness of my sins and the restoration of my fellowship with God.

“I place my trust in the Father to meet all my needs according to His riches and glory in Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:19). Additionally, I rely on Him to bear spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) with the Holy Spirit as my guide (Romans 8:14).”

Could you share the story behind your decision to pursue a career as a pastor?

“After accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, I experienced an intense desire to work for the Lord and reach out to lost souls. One evening, a few youth members and I decided to initiate weekly prayer gatherings, leading to our engagement in street ministry. Through these humble gatherings, we identified the pressing needs within our community, responding to Jesus’s call in Matthew 9:38: ‘Pray then to the Lord of the harvest, that He may send out laborers into His harvest.’ My heart was ablaze with the desire to serve the Lord.

“In 1988, a particular experience from the Word of God motivated me to pursue further education at Bethel Bible School after completing my secondary education. As the youngest of ten children, I took a gap year, working to gain certainty about my calling amidst the close influence of family. Although my family wanted me to obtain an academic qualification first, I was not surprised by their concerns about my choice of full-time ministry. I realized their love for me and their apprehension about the potential challenges.

“Despite the initial plan to attend Bethel Bible School, I found myself taking a different path after a year of employment, entering the field of social work. Simultaneously, I remained engaged in church activities, short-term community projects, part-time work at Bethel Bible School, and various outreach programmes. In my third year of social work studies, a strong awareness of God’s calling led me to consider changing my course to theology. My mother suggested completing the social work course first before pursuing theological studies, a plan I followed through to my fourth year. Financial difficulties arose, compelling me to enter the workforce as a social worker after completing my qualification.

“During 2012, I faced numerous challenges in my work, family, and personal life. After months of struggle and seeking God’s presence, I realized that surrendering and giving God an eternal YES was essential for success. Like Isaiah, I responded, ‘Here I am, send me.’ (Isaiah 6:8). Although this progressive calling took time to unfold, I continue to seek God’s will and guidance, declaring prayerfully and humbly that I will go wherever He leads me. To God be all the glory!”

What was your theological field of study and your mentor or study leader who guided you during your academic pursuits?

“I completed my MTh (Practical Theology) under the leadership of Prof. Dreyer and Dr Steyn at the University of Pretoria. Mentoring with regards to practical work was under the leadership of Rev. C. Zincker at URCSA Vredenburg.”

What vision do you hold for the church, and in what ways do you aspire to make a positive impact on your faith community?

“In today’s constantly changing world, my vision is to look at the community of faith from a completely different angle – to possess the ability to recognize opportunities in current circumstances and to perceive the community of faith from God’s perspective. This involves reaching out (Mark 16:15), caring (Acts 20:28), and equipping (Ephesians 4:12, 6:7).

“Furthermore, I am currently employed as a social worker. This can be viewed as a practical way to serve people in need, navigating the social service system with a theological underpinning. This includes the rendering of pastoral care and counseling, as well as involvement in community development.”

Aside from your studies, what hobbies or interests do you engage in?

“I am very fond of leisure time with my family, coordinating community work projects (e.g., vegetable gardens, calendar events, and youth camps), listening to gospel music, hiking, reading, and gardening.”


Contact Prop. Lewis-Richards at [email protected] or 082 945 4561 for more information.