ST. LOUIS – When asked about how they first met, there was immediate laughter from Ricardo and Christian Redd. Apparently, Christina, Ricardo’s wife for the past 16 years, did not appreciate him as much as she does now.
It is in God’s great wisdom that the two of them, Ricardo with Christina at his side, now labor to share the gospel and make disciples in St. Louis, where they started a Missouri Baptist church plant in a section of the city known as Fountain Park.
New Direction Church began about as small as a church body can: The Redds themselves with their children and one other family in 2012.
“I knew he was supposed to be a pastor,” Christina said, as she looked over at her husband, “I just did not want to put the idea in his head.” But the Lord was already leading Ricardo the same way, so when they decided to leave their church at the time and plant, it was a peaceful transition for both.
“I know that if no one else has my back, she does,” Ricardo said about his wife. And in the world of church planting, with ongoing spiritual warfare, high highs and the lowest of lows, a spouse who provides that is nothing less than a gift from God. But Ricardo did not simply have his wife, of course, he also had a strong calling from the Lord to plant specifically in the area where they are now.
“I could have gone into [more affluent parts] of Saint Louis,” but the Redds were eager to share the Gospel of Christ with those back home. Both of the Redds grew up in the community where their church sits now, with Ricardo himself having grown up right down the street from the building.
And New Direction uses any means possible to get the gospel out to those in the community, an area with a noticeable homeless population in their midst. After planting the church, they teamed up with a group named Hope Outreach Ministry to go out every Saturday in order to clothe and feed those who are in need.
But the Redds and the rest of New Direction understood they needed to do more.
They began supporting Hope Outreach with boots on the ground, but also with a gospel presence. Feeding and clothing were not enough to meet the most pressing needs of the community around them, so they began sharing the gospel with the many people that came for clothes and physical food. Ricardo’s eyes went wide when asked about whether or not they expected the whole church to be out on the Saturdays they served with the homeless ministry.
“People are expected to be there unless they have to work or something like that. On Sunday morning we’ll ask people where they were on Saturday if they weren’t there. We’re trying to show that the community isn’t just there for the church, the church is there for the community. I tell our people all the time, ‘You have to be a blessing to those who cannot bless you back. It takes a strong church to make a strong community.”
And this is exactly what they are aiming for in the Fountain Park area. Both Ricardo and Christina have far reaching plans for the area around their church. From continuing their homeless ministry arm-in-arm with Hope Outreach, which feeds 100-150 people on Saturdays, to looking far into the future at transitional housing in Fountain Park, the Redds and New Direction rejoice in where God has placed them and see only where the church can continue to be a blessing to Saint Louis City.