Richard O’Ffill, who was instrumental in the founding of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), lost his long battle with Parkinson’s Disease on July 29, 2020, in Orlando, Florida, United States. He was 79.
O’Ffill was the first director of the Seventh-day Adventist World Services (SAWS), which was renamed ADRA in 1984. He also spent many years working as a missionary for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“Our ADRA family around the world is saddened by the passing of Richard O’Ffill. He was a remarkable visionary leader and a driving force behind the creation of the Adventist Church’s humanitarian work. His passion for service led him to create many initiatives that helped mold ADRA into the global humanitarian agency it is today,” said ADRA’s president, Michael Kruger. “We are grateful for Pastor O’Ffill’s many contributions to our church and ADRA, and honor his legacy by inspiring our teams around the world to continue to serve with justice, compassion, and love. We lift in prayer his wife, children, and family, and express our heartfelt condolences.”
O’Ffill dedicated his life to service. He pastored six churches in Ohio and was ordained in 1966 before being called to be a Bible teacher and minister in Pakistan. He returned to the United States in 1970 to be the chaplain and Bible teacher of Auburn Adventist Academy and pastor of the Auburn Seventh-day Adventist Church near Seattle, Washington.
His unrelenting dedication to serving the less fortunate led O’Ffill to Chile in 1972, where he became the first director of SAWS in the region. He oversaw relief efforts with Obra Filantrópica y de Asistencia Social Adventista (OFASA), the Adventist Philanthropic and Social Assistance Work agency in Latin America.
After returning to the United States from Chile, O’Ffill took a leading role in the development of the first U.S. government grant provided to the Adventist Church for development projects. He created a plan to fight malnutrition with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help some 300,000 children in Chile.
“Richard had an amazing intellect for development and relief operations. He had the vision to expand the work of the church into the field of development. He also understood the need to create a non-profit organization like ADRA, so our faith could be put into action, for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus around the world,” said Mario Ochoa, who worked with O’Ffill in Chile and the United States.
O’Ffill concluded his tenure with ADRA in 1984. During his leadership, SAWS and ADRA field operations grew from five to fifty countries in five years.
“I will always remember Pastor O’Ffill. He was a powerful speaker, who was also fluent in Spanish. He used to do the Mission Spotlight at my church, the Washington Spanish in Maryland,” said Rudy Monsalve, associate director for planned giving at ADRA. “Even before I met him and started working for ADRA in the early eighties, I was impressed by his compassion and love for the mission field. He inspired me as a young man to do in-gathering for SAWS.”
In 1984, O’Ffill was called to lead Lay Activities, Adventist Community Services, and Prison Ministries for the Florida Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He created the first men’s ministries department and authored 10 books about the power of prayer and the family and Christian life. O’Ffill’s spiritual messages also reached television and radio audiences through the Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN) in the mid-2000s. He was a frequent guest on Crosstalk, a weekly interview program produced by Layman Ministries.
“My father valued spiritual revival in his church and its members,” said Richard O’Ffill Jr., director for information technology at ADRA. “Even after retirement, he never stopped reaching people and drawing them closer to Jesus. He was a revivalist, always found a way to impact people through his sermons at camp meetings, devotionals, books, and weeks of prayer series. When he saw he could reach far more audiences, I helped him build his first website and social media ministry. It created a special bond between us as we became partners in ministry. It amazes me how many people were touched by his life.”
O’Ffill is survived by his wife, Betty; daughters Cindy and Kathy; sons Richard Jr. and Dan; their spouses; eight grandchildren; and other family members.
The O’Ffill family plans to pay tribute to Richard’s life in a private service later in 2020. Condolences and remembrances are welcome on Facebook.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorial gift donations to be sent to ADRA.