The year was 1998.
Amanda Richardson knew she had never met this guy before. Her friends, however, expressed skepticism.
Nathan Devena was experiencing the same problem. He also knew that he had never met this girl at his cousin’s wedding. Yet, their group of mutual friends remained convinced that they had.
When Nathan & Amanda finally met, they failed to persuade anyone that they were indeed strangers, but they did discover their unique connection – Amanda’s parents & Nathan’s uncle served as Village Missionaries!
After a few years of friendship and dating, Nathan & Amanda finally married in 2001.
Fast-forward 18 years later, the Devenas now serve as Village Missionaries in Blodgett, Oregon!
Roots in Village Missions
Amanda was born and raised in the Village Missions world. Her parents, Russell & Linda Richardson, joined Village Missions in 1976, and currently serve in Sauvie Island, Oregon.
Although she grew up as VM kid, she did not initially plan to return to her roots for ministry.
“People ask me if being a Village Missionary was my goal. No!” says Amanda. “I never expected to be doing ministry through Village Missions. It’s like I’m coming home to ministry.”
After experiencing the Village Missions life in 3 different fields, Amanda graduated high school and started her studies at Ecola Bible College.
Although he did not attend Ecola, Nathan and Amanda met through their group of mutual friends during this time.
Nathan’s Uncle, Bill Devena, served as a Village Missionary for 32 years. Nathan’s family originally came to the Pacific Northwest to help his Uncle Bill build a church in Skamania, Washington.
Humorously, Nathan did not even realize that his Uncle Bill was a Village Missions pastor until after he and Amanda were married! Now newlyweds and wanting to work in ministry, the Devenas began serving at Sauvie Island Community Church along with her family.
The Devenas served at Sauvie Island for several years while Nathan worked as letter carrier and Amanda was a barista. But, they always had the feeling that God was calling them into full-time ministry.
Upon graduating from Servant’s Bible School in 2014, they knew they wanted to be involved in “hands-on” ministry. Amanda desired to use her talents in music to help lead worship, and Nathan’s tech background would certainly come in handy (especially in a small church!). Because of their experience in Village Missions churches, they were naturally open to rural missions.
In the summer of 2016, after months of prayer and careful reflection, their moment of clarity came.
“I believe the Lord is calling us to full-time ministry with Village Missions,” Nathan said confidently.
Amanda replied with equal assurance, “I think so, too.”
And in the spring of 2017, Village Missions accepted them as Village Missionaries!
Then, in the first week of July, they got the call from District Representative Mark Canady.
“Well, we’re going to Blodgett,” Nathan said over the phone while Amanda was at work.
“Where’s that?” Amanda asked, a fitting response when finding out where you are going as a Village Missionary!
Just 2 months later, the Devenas began serving at Blodgett Community Church.
And when they also found out that the church needed a worship leader and a tech person, Nathan & Amanda knew right away that Blodgett was exactly where God had called them.
Coming Home to Ministry: Exactly Where We Need To Be
Blodgett, a small community of 50 people, consists of a country store, a two-room school house, and the church. Generations of work in the logging industry endow the locals with a fiercely proud and independent spirit, leaving many seeing no reason for God in their lives.
Despite the town’s rough exterior, Blodgett Community Church is there to help grow and make disciples, both inside and outside the church.
One of the ways their congregation has been recently challenged to grow is through Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI), which brings a crowd of around 20 each Wednesday evening. Perhaps future Village Missionaries will come forth as a result!
“Small church ministry is often so overlooked,” says Nathan. “Reaching souls for Christ in unchurched, or underchurched America is paramount. Building churches or helping them get healthy is something that VM cares about, and so do we.”
Nathan & Amanda’s small business, Blodgett Coffee Roasters, has also been a great ministry in the surrounding communities. Each week they give away bags of freshly roasted coffee, which allows them to start conversations with locals at nearby farmer’s markets!
From the success of their coffee business, to the faithfulness of their congregation, Nathan & Amanda proudly serve as Village Missionaries, and continue to be amazed by God’s guidance and direction in their lives.
“We can’t imagine doing anything else. There is peace knowing that you are where God wants you to be. And He wants us to be here in Blodgett.”