Don was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and completed high school in Victoria, British
Columbia on Vancouver Island. He began his walk with the Lord at a Youth for Christ rally in 1952.
He was married to Carol Joy Soderstrom for 43 years. Both he and Carol Joy graduated from Prairie
Bible Institute in Alberta, Canada, and completed training at Wycliffe Bible Translators’ Summer
Institute of Linguistics.
In 1962, under sponsorship of the former Regions Beyond Missionary Union (now World Team), Don
and Carol embarked on a missionary career in Netherlands New Guinea (now Papua, Indonesia). They
served for 15 years among the Sawi, a Stone-Age tribe of cannibal-headhunters who valued treachery
as an ideal. Don and Carol designed an alphabet suited to their language, authored 19 primers, taught
the tribesmen to read in their native tongue and translated the New Testament into Sawi. As a registered
nurse, Carol was known as “the woman who makes everyone well.” In time, and with the involvement
of several missionary co-workers (including John and Esther Mills, Jim and Joan Yost and others)
more than half of the Sawi came to Christ, engendering a major cultural shift as the Gospel replaced
warring, cannibalism and headhunting with peace and good will.
From 1977 until his illness surfaced in March 2018, Don served as World Team’s minister-at-large. In
this role he spoke at dozens of churches, conferences and other venues each year. His ministry travels
took him to all 50 U.S. states and 36 countries. In addition, Don was a frequent instructor in the
“Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” course and on various college and seminary
campuses. He was an ordained pastor and held an honorary doctorate of literature from Biola
University. Following Carol Joy’s death in 2004 Don was remarried to Carol Joyce, his ‘second Carol’
with whom he enjoyed ongoing fruitful ministry.
Don’s best-selling first book, Peace Child, tells the dramatic story of how the gospel broke through
among the Sawi tribe. His second book, Lords of the Earth documents the trials of his colleagues
among the Yali, a mountain tribe in the same Indonesian province. Eternity in Their Hearts, Don’s
3rd book, presents case histories of the way God prepares cultures to receive the Gospel. His four
subsequent books on a variety of topics have also received wide readership.
In addition to teaching and writing, Richardson enjoyed painted captivating scenes of tribal life in New
Guinea, competing in chess tournaments, running and hiking – summiting a total of 33 “fourteeners”
(peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation) in the Colorado Rockies and the High Sierras of California.