Diane Rickard, '77 Finds her Mission of Mercy

Published by Concordia University, Nebraska 3 years ago on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 11:15 AM

When Diane Rickard graduated from Concordia in 1977, she had no idea where God was leading her, she just knew she needed to follow His voice. Her love of people and missions led her to a Mercy Ship in the middle of the ocean helping those less fortunate regain their dignity.

“I've been involved in fulltime missions since 1980, except for a short break during my youngest son's illness,” said Rickard. “After graduating from Seward in 1977, I taught at Lutheran High Minneapolis for three years as an English and art teacher.  I loved teaching but also had a love for many cultures and had a serious missions interest. And itchy feet!”

As a Concordia student, Rickard served as a resident assistant (R.A.) for three of her four years. One year she was an R.A. for an entire year for an entire group of Micronesians who had come to study at Concordia on a United States Government study grant program. “That mission interest and personal calling which I felt since high school was nurtured during my years at Concordia,” she said.

During her third year of teaching at Minneapolis Lutheran High, she explored LCMS Mission opportunities. She wound up visiting friends who had participated in Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and did a short-term training and mission in Mexico with them. She was later invited on another overseas short-term experience in Asia.

“Through that opportunity I met the couple who were just pioneering the first Mercy Ship, the Anastasis in the early 1980's and got recruited to help with the arrival of that ship into Los Angeles.  I would up as the public relations officer onboard the ship. I knew I had found my niche,” Rickard said.   

Diane and her husband, Pari, met when he was at the U.S. Center for World Missions in California around the arrival project and married in Los Angeles in 1984.  After serving a year as training director on the first Mercy Ship, he was asked to become the director of the second ship, the Good Samaritan, serving with medical and dental assistance in the Caribbean/Amazon/Central America.  Diane served as his assistant and communications officer onboard.

In 1989, the couple moved to Holland where their first son Aaron was born and then on to England in 1993 to work on projects focused on unreached people groups.

“In the late 1990's, my husband and I took a much needed break from missions and travel for a couple of years and he worked as a trainer and management consultant during one of the most challenging missions of our lives, supporting a severely handicapped son born to us in England. Andrew had Patau Syndrome and led us on a rollercoaster 3 1/2 years before the Lord took him home.” 

The couple returned to Mercy Ships a year later and Pari served as human resources and recruitment director, then became a youth pastor at a local church. Diane went back to communications. The couple returned to England in 2004 for Diane to help with public relations for the launch of the current vessel, Africa Mercy and have remained north of London.  For the past 10 years, she has worked as International Media Relations Manager for Mercy Ships globally, telling the Mercy Ships story in many ways with news and other media.  

In 2012, she had the opportunity to host Scott Pelley with CBS 60 Minutes, as he reported on the Africa Mercy in Togo,West Africa. Most recently, she was able to steward the television production of an eight episode TV series for National Geographic Channel filmed onboard the ship in West Africa titled, “The Surgery Ship”

“My Concordia foundational years have stood me in good stead for what has turned into a career of loving and serving the least of those in His Kingdom.”