Stories

Elizabeth Shaffer's Eulogy for Daryl Richman

I first met Daryl Richman in late winter of 1973 after being told by a Young Life co-worker of Skip Ryan’s that he knew “a” Christian in Charlottesville—Daryl. “Well, the Bible says ‘two or more’ is fellowship,” I thought to myself! When I arrived in Charlottesville to look for him, I was directed to the Action office in St. Paul’s on the Corner, and I found Daryl standing outside, talking with… Don Lemons and Beat Steiner. I introduced myself to them (recently returned from 2 years in Europe, where I had committed my life to Christ a year before in a Christian community called L’Abri Fellowship—not knowing whether anyone knew what that was).

Then, when I moved to Charlottesville shortly thereafter, it was at the Sunday evening Action meetings that I found Christian fellowship and learned more fully the story of Daryl’s radical obedience to God’s call to leave his country Baptist church to evangelize the “heathen” at Mr. Jefferson’s University. (As Beat explained to me at one point, when Daryl arrived on campus, there were only a very few professing Christians. A few years later, there were a few hundred.)

What impressed me most about Daryl as I listened to him speak at the Action meetings was the clarity of his presentation of the Gospel, his openness, and his “sold-out-ness” to Christ: he consistently reassured us of God’s faithfulness and encouraged us to trust and follow Jesus fully, whatever the cost. He was unassuming and he spoke simple words, but they carried great power. It was exactly what I needed to hear as a young Christian.

The next Fall, having enrolled in a Masters program in French and not finding any professing Christians among my fellow grad students, again through Action I met a group of audacious law students (among them Don and Carol Lemons, Richard Gwathmey, Mike Wallace, Henry Parr, Bob Cochran, Moffett Roller, Joe Owen, Dick Bersin, Karen Bailey) who, with Daryl’s encouragement, began a weekly Bible Study for their classmates. (Many have remained life-long friends, professionally, too, as I frequently appeared before then-Judge and now Chief Justice Lemons during my time in the Criminal Litigation section of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office).

At the end of my Masters, then on the way to Law school myself, I was confronted with a not-humanly-sensible summer opportunity that I nevertheless believed was God calling. Greatly in need of godly counsel, it was, naturally, to Daryl that I turned. He gave it, and 44 years later, I know I made the right decision in going to sell books door-to-door in South Carolina, even though I still don’t really know why God had me do that.

These brief years at UVA were a critical period in my spiritual growth. And in the most important ways, Daryl was the connecting thread: his total devotion to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ seen in how he lived. 

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:7-8, NASB).

Thank you, loving heavenly Father, for Daryl Richman.