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Richie Halversen Interview
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Watch video interviews at the end of this article.

From a very young age I felt God’s calling on my life. I grew up in a pastor’s home and I remember watching him preach and thinking, “I want to do that some day.” Seeing lives change as a result of experiencing Christ made a big impression on me. Throughout grade school I carried that desire—to be a pastor like Dad. 
 
My priorities started to change halfway through academy. I started hanging around with kids who were looking for enjoyment and fulfillment in all the wrong places. I started occupying my time doing, reading and listening to things that were not the best. My walk with God basically became non-existent.
 
I was into the party lifestyle—got into some trouble at school, but fortunately was able to graduate, just barely.  Six months after graduation I married my girlfriend and four months after that we had our first child. I was 19 years old and father to a child—a child raising a child! I had a job waiting tables at a restaurant, but my priorities were not for God or my family at all. I was caught up searching for that next good time.
 
For the next five years it was a roller coaster ride of trying to find fulfillment in a life without God. I started drinking heavily and got heavily addicted to pain and prescription medicines. My next child came along. There were moments where I would kind of get my act together during this period but then I would go right back to my old behaviors. My marriage was in shambles—lots of heartache for my family. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer, a doctor, or a homeless guy in the street, addiction does not discriminate. When you use drugs you stop growing emotionally and maturing emotionally. It’s a selfish disease. At times I would hear God in the back of my mind, very faintly, letting me know that “Richie, until you let Me fill you, you’re not going to be happy.” I would push it away.
 
I eventually ended up doing things that I would never have thought I would do in order to use. My illegal behavior put me in jails and institutions over the next several years. I was in and out of treatment centers over and over. I put my family through a lot of pain.
 
Around Christmas of 2000, I had a couple of warrants out for my arrest. I was 50 pounds underweight—a skeleton of a person. I was bankrupt spiritually, physically, emotionally. I went to my parents for help and they just said, “Richie, we can’t do this anymore. We’ll send you to treatment  center just one more time. My parents arranged for me to be admitted to a treatment center in a small town in Gooding, Idaho. I agreed to go. They gave me plane tickets—knew better than to send me the money. They got me on the plane and I went into treatment on New Year’s Eve.
 
One cold day, not much later, I started thinking to myself, “Well, you know, I can sneak out of this treatment center and find a way to score some drugs and sneak back in before anybody will ever know.” But an audible voice, at least audible to me said, “Richie, if you go out that door you will die this time; but if you stay and give Me your heart, I’m going to use you to help others.” That evening, I decided to surrender my life to God, and I stayed—for a 28-day program. I began talking to God again, which I hadn’t done for so many years, and He talked to me as He had always tried to do. He had never changed—but now, I was listening to Him.
 
My dad had requested the pastor in Twin Falls, Idaho, to visit me in the treatment center in Gooding. I told him, “Pastor, I keep praying for God to help me, over and over. He encouraged me saying, “Richie, rather than praying for God to help you, start praying for God change you.” That made a deep impression on me. From that day forward my prayer has been, “Lord, don’t just help me, but change me.”
 
So began my journey to recovery. I came back home—had to deal with the wreckage of my past—go before the judge and things like that. I experienced God’s grace there with the legal system! On the condition that I stayed clean and got through probation, the charges against me would be expunged—I would have a clean slate. This was unheard of for people who were in similar situations.
 
I joined a 12-Step Recovery Program and got involved with the church in Highland—I started helping others to find recovery from their addictions. Miraculously God preserved my marriage My wife is my partner in ministry, and it’s just a blessing to be a part of my children’s lives.
 
God continued to work on my life. I got my undergrad degree in communications—a bachelor’s in public relations at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. I worked for different companies doing evangelistic advertising. I loved it, thought that was the area God wanted me to pursue.
 
God let me know in various ways, that this was not what He had ultimately called me to do. I knew deep down what I really wanted to do was ministry—pastoral ministry, but I thought, “God, I don’t have the undergrad in theology. I’ve got a past. I’ve burned that bridge. There’s no way I can be a minister now.” I was 29 years old. I thought “No conference is going to hire me and I can’t afford to go back to school—I already have plenty of loans.”
 
One day, I was talking to a good high-school friend. His father was executive secretary of the Gulf States Conference. I asked him, do you think I could get into communications work in a conference? He said he would ask his dad. I really didn’t think any more about it .
 
A job offer had come along from Washington state—in printing and communications and I was focused on the interview that I was scheduled to have with the company. The interview went well and I got a phenomenal offer. Yet I was depressed that it went well because I was hoping that maybe the interview was God’s burning bush for me—that no, He didn’t want me to do this but wanted me in pastoral ministry. On the flight home, I wrote in my prayer journal, “Lord, if the door for me to go into ministry ever opens, I’m going to walk through it. I don’t care what kind of good offers I have from anywhere else, I’m going to be a pastor for your church.”
 
The very next day, Leslie Louie phoned me and said, “Chris told me that you’re interested in becoming a pastor, (I had said communications, not pastoring). I said, “Absolutely I was.” So they had me come down for an interview. The interview went well and they gave me a call to pastor Montgomery First Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was just amazing to me because the Holy Spirit heard the prayer of my heart—the one I was too much of a coward to pray. I had written God off and His miraculous power to open up the door for me to go into pastoral ministry.
 
I remember the first times— the first time getting behind the pulpit, the first time visiting a member in their home, the first time visiting a member who was sick, and the first time doing a baptism. I thought “The shoe fits. This is what I was born to do—of pointing people to the Savior—the One who saved my life.” My greatest joy in ministry has been seeing that light and spark come into somebody’s eye when they experience the Gospel—not just hear it, but when they encounter the amazing, powerful, all-consuming love of God. There’s just nothing like it.
 
Growing up as a Halversen, there was always some level of expectation—“oh, you’re a Halversen. You’re going to be a preacher.” My father, Richard, is a pastor, and of course his brother Ron, who was the first Halversen that embraced the Adventist message and became a preacher. But for me it was more than the expectation. It was an urging, an urge to be a part of pastoral ministry. It was like what Jeremiah felt—a burning in my bones and I couldn’t do anything to keep it down. I realized I wanted to do what people had done for me and how they had sacrificed for me. The people who were my sponsors in the 12-Step Recovery— who had stayed up late talking to me on the phone when I was going through hard things. I said, “Man, I can do all of these things in pastoral ministry.” I said, “You know, this is what God is calling me to do.”
 
There is not another thing in the entire universe that I would rather do than what I do now, but I could never do any of it if it wasn’t for the people who have surrounded me with their love. My wife, Brittany, and our four beautiful children—they have been such a big part of my ministry.  What God’s been able to do through me is just as much because of my wife and family as me—such a blessing to have them in my life. And my father and mother, Richard and Mary, who showed me the beauty of co-team ministry—mom  just as important as dad. Also, my church members who have shared with me, shaped my ministry and ministered to my heart as much as, I pray, I’ve ministered to their hearts. I just praise God for them and the mentors and the elders who have been there to encourage and to affirm me. I couldn’t do it without the good people that are in my life that support what I do.
 
There are no burned bridges with God. I realize if God wants me to be a minister then there is nothing anybody can do or say that can keep me from doing that as long as I’m willing to submit to His leading and direction. It’s been encouraging to know that God is able to repair any bridge—He is the bridge. It’s a blessing to serve Him.
 
 
 
Richie Halversen - Short Interview
 
 

Richie Halversen - Full Interview