Author Spotlight: Judy Richichi
We are pleased to introduce Judy Richichi. Judy recently published By the Grace of God Go We, which is now available for order through the Word Alive Press Bookstore, and everywhere fine Christian books are sold. We asked Judy to share a little bit about her writing, and new book. But first, a little bit about her.
Judy Richichi (née Needham) is the Director of Development for Youth for Christ Winnipeg, one of the largest YFC chapters in Canada. She has been serving in ministry for more than fourteen years with a focus on helping the marginalized and vulnerable members of our society.
Judy knows first-hand the importance of having a safe place to get help, find community, and get positive peer mentorship. Having spent most of her youth in and out of foster care, group homes, and on the street, she knows that God never left or forsake her and that by his grace she and her siblings survived and thrived.She has been speaking on the subject for ten years and seeks to inspire people to get involved in their community and be a part of the solution. She believes that we are all called to be God’s hands and feet on this earth and that each of us have a special purpose to make an impact.
She has a Business Administration diploma from Red River College and has served on various boards. She currently serves on the board of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, helping ministries succeed in a complex world. She was presented with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012 for her commitment to helping people experiencing poverty and homelessness in Winnipeg.
Judy has been married for more than thirty-five years to her husband Joe. She credits her faith in Jesus and Joe’s family’s Italian influence on her life for bringing her out of her shell and teaching her to live, laugh, and love freely and deeply. She has four adult children, Raffaele (Mary), David (Christa), Michael, and Angelina (Shane) and is very excited about becoming a grandma in August.
She and her family love to go out to her sister’s cabin at the lake and spend time with nature and family. She also loves the beach, long boat rides, traveling, and just being by the water. She is excited to be able to gather with her children and extended family members and celebrate Italian style once COVID is over. Family is very important to her and needs to be nurtured and celebrated.
Judy’s heart is to bring people together to be a part of the solution for change that is so needed in this world. She hopes she and her family’s true story, By the Grace of God Go We, will inspire people to set aside their differences and focus on what we have in common, which is knowing and loving God and our neighbours. Her experience while working with the most vulnerable people in society is that people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds fundamentally care about people in need. Jesus’s command, to care for our neighbour, is a great place to start to build unity and make change in our world.
By the Grace of God Go We tells her family’s faith journey out of poverty and homelessness. It’s the tale of eight children, growing up in Port Charlotte Florida. They start off in a normal family setting but have an abusive father. Eventually the constant marital fights and the father’s aggression lead to divorce with the children, all under the age of 18, left to figure out how to survive with their mother, who suffers with mental health issues.
Over a five-year period, each child faces neglect, lack of supervision, and the breakdown of the family unit, forcing them to make choices they never would have made. But by the grace of God and the help of ordinary people along the way, they not only survived but developed a relationship with Christ. He transformed their lives and now helps them achieve above and beyond anything they could have imagined.
God has a plan for each of us, and it is up to us to choose the right path and seek him in the midst of our trials.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: My siblings and I had a very rough start, but we all ended up loving and serving God despite our challenges. Each of us attribute our success to having a relationship with Christ.
We only shared our personal testimonies with each other once, back in 2014, because when you go through traumatic circumstances you never want to go back and talk about it. After sharing, each of us was amazed that we had all survived.
That was when the seed of the book was born. I thought if we shared our stories, we could help others and inspire people to seek a relationship with Jesus, to not judge others, and to get involved in our communities to make change happen. Because if not us, then who?
Each of us was supposed to write one chapter. However, life got in the way and the book was forgotten. But then God called me back to it in 2018 and I knew I had to complete the project. With the collaboration and blessing of my siblings, we did it. Only God can help you accomplish something like this. But here it is today and I really hope people enjoy it and are blessed by it.
I also felt compelled to write the book because, after hearing my story, many people encouraged me to share my familial challenges.
Q: What do you hope others will gain from your story?
A: I hope people are able to see God’s grace in our lives, and in their own lives as well. Sometimes grace is hard to see, but it’s in the little things. We were all so blessed during our journey to have made it and to be loving him today.
We hope the book encourages people to reach out to Jesus and start their own relationship with him so they can experience their full potential and purpose.
I also hope that people who look at those experiencing poverty and homelessness or trauma with preconceived notions awaken to the fact that behind every person there is a story and we need to dig a little deeper to discover what that story is. Rather than make judgments, we need to sit down and try to understand the background of the people we come across.
Jesus Christ came to build relationship with us. That’s why he walked this earth. It is also what he calls us to do and we need to do it better. We have reduced relationships to financial transactions without taking the time to get to know each other. That’s not how we build God’s kingdom. We build it through knowing and loving our neighbours.
And finally I hope the book inspires people to get involved in the change they want to see in their world. Whether it’s racism, bullying, poverty, or homelessness, we all need to stand up for changing our community and it all starts with loving God and loving our neighbours. Because if we truly love our neighbours, we will seek justice for them, lifting them up to make the world a better place.
Q: What was the most challenging part of sharing your personal story?
A: The most challenging part was becoming vulnerable and transparent. Some of the things I share most people will have never known, but I share them because they are more common than we think. Nobody likes to share the difficulties they’ve had to face, but I truly believe that in order to make real change happen we need to talk about the issues and challenges people are facing and bring about change so it doesn’t happen to others. It was also painful to hear about the hardships my siblings faced. It was an emotional rollercoaster.
Q: How does your faith impact your writing?
A: My faith is my writing. It’s what inspired the book in the first place. I felt called to write it. In this book, I step out in faith to share the testimonies of myself and my siblings. We do this to bring people to Christ and to share his love and grace and glory with everyone because that’s what he has called us to do. I give it all to God, because I couldn’t have written it without him.
Q: What have I learned since becoming a published author?
A: The writing journey brought me closer to God and gave me a better understanding of his heart and love for us. God would speak to me in between sections to give me insight into where he was with me on my journey.
My advice to new authors is this: if there’s a story in your heart that needs to be told, start writing. I voiced my story into emails and wrote and combined it over time. It was much easier to do it that way than to type it, as you tend to go back and edit too much and it then feels too much like work. Just speak it out and get it out onto the paper, then go back and fix the areas that need to be fixed. It is hard work. There is a lot of editing and revising, but Word Alive Press has an amazing team to help you. If your book or your message can impact one person for God, it’s worth it!
Due to pandemic restrictions, Judy is still working on a proper time and place to launch the book. Visit her on Facebook, to like her page and stay tuned for future announcements. If you would like to pre-order a book, or to connect with her, you can email her at bythegraceofgodgowe[at]gmail.com.