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Former treasure seeker shares treasure of salvation in Christ

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Sitting among a room full of
preachers at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary,
Richard Headrick looks a little out of place.
His long gray hair pulled back neatly in a pony tail,
Headrick’s bearded smile and piercing blue eyes cannot be
disguised by wire-framed glasses and a dark
conservative-looking suit.
“At home I wear tank tops all the time, blue jeans and
boots,” Headrick confessed. The 55-year-old native of
Laurel, Miss., readily admits he’s more comfortable
straddling a Harley Davidson motorcycle at a bikers’ rally
than stroking his beard with theologians.
For the past six years, Headrick and his wife, Gina,
have spent their summers participating in Harley Davidson
Motorcycle rallies. The couple wheels thousands of miles on
their Harleys, affectionately called “Hogs,” en route to
rallies in Gulfport, Miss., and Sturgis. S.D.
“We witness going and coming,” said Headrick, who owned
one of the largest billboard companies on the East Coast
before selling it in May 1997. “It’s one of the most
fulfilling things to do, planting seeds (of the gospel).”
The Headricks, who are members of Southeastern’s board
of visitors, were on the Wake Forest, N.C., campus in
October to present the seminary a gift of $250,000.
“We feel like the Lord orchestrated the sale of our
company so we would have the funds to share with those men
and women who are on the front lines of the battle,”
Headrick said. “We refer to ourselves as the supply troops
in the back.”
Headrick said he believes he missed God’s calling on
his life many years ago to preach or serve as a missionary.
“I was such a rascal, I messed up and ruined that
opportunity. It breaks my heart,” Headrick said ashamedly.
“I didn’t honor God like I should.”
Throughout the 1980s, he risked life, limb and liberty
chasing a seemingly insatiable desire for treasures of gold
and silver hidden in the jungles of Central America.
Headrick said he is confident that, for a reason God
only knows, he has had more than his share of guardian
angels along the way. Headrick has scaled Mt. Pacaya, an
active volcano outside Guatemala City, Guatemala, survived
three private airplane crashes and two ambush attempts while
uncovering gold and jewels in the jungles of Honduras. Oh,
and then there were the terrorists bombings he lived through
while in Peru.
His searches for riches in Central America and South
America in the early 1980s nearly cost him his life on
several other occasions. In Peru, he exited a train shortly
before it blew up, killing 60 passengers. On another night,
11 hotels in Lima were bombed by terrorists, yet the hotel
housing Headrick remained unscathed.
“I’ve been shot at, cut with a knife, had my head
fractured from the blow of a pistol (handle) and heard the
click of a pistol hammer followed by the words, ‘I think
I’ll blow your head off.’ I’ve had broken ribs, fingers and
wrists, pulled ligaments in my legs and have seen fireworks
when a guy in Belize beat me up.”
Following his arrest by U.S. Customs officers in New
Orleans on charges of smuggling gold, jewels and weapons,
Headrick’s thirst for treasure still would not be denied. He
continued visiting Belize in Central America where he bought
a hotel in 1985. After serving a three-year probation,
Headrick resumed his quest in South America on expeditions
down the Amazon River and up the Andes Mountains of Peru.
But while Headrick pursued his dream of discovering
lost treasures, he could not elude the reality of his inner
emptiness. Back in the States, Headrick had transformed his
father’s once-small sign business into a multi-million-
dollar corporation.
“In 1989 after having one of the most profitable years
ever, I was miserable,” Headrick said. “I was living in sin
but talking Jesus like the best of them. I was empty and
racing like the wind. I talked to preachers and prayed the
sinner’s prayer in front of Dr. Bailey Smith, but I knew I
was still empty because I went back to sinning.”
In February 1989, Headrick said, he realized with the
help of a friend that the profession of faith he made at age
13 was not genuine because he had failed to place Christ as
Lord of his life.
“I played church,” Headrick admitted. “I had a good
game, a good talk, but I didn’t walk the walk. The change in
my life came in 1989. That’s when I made Jesus Lord of my
life. It’s one thing to call yourself a Christian. It’s
something totally different to let Jesus be Lord of your
In the early 1990s, Headrick’s business was hit by a
financial crisis when one of his companies’ sales plummeted
from $8 million in 1988 to $500,000 by 1992. In a last-ditch
effort to save the company, Headrick landed a huge deal with
the casino industry in Mississippi.
Casinos were paying big bucks for signs and billboards
promoting the gaming industry.
Shortly after sealing the deal with gambling promoters,
Headrick said, one tragedy after another struck his
employees and their families, including homes burned, cars
wrecked, broken bones, strokes, hurricane disasters and
other financial difficulties.
“We called an emergency meeting of our sales staff and
I told them there would be no more casino sales and that if
we went broke, and many said we would, we would just go
broke, but we would not compromise our Christian convictions
any longer.”
The decision drew national media attention winning,
widespread public support and immediately changing the
company’s fortunes, Headrick said. “Within a year, the
amount of revenue we lost by not doing business with the
casinos equaled one-half the revenue we gained from the
unexpected new business,” he said.
In May 1997, Headrick said, under the leadership of the
Lord, he sold his billboard business for a price tag in the
tens of millions of dollars. Twenty years earlier, he had
started the company on a $6,000 budget.
Southeastern Seminary President Paige Patterson said
the Headricks’ involvement with the seminary’s work in
building the kingdom of God is a refreshing reminder of how
God uses laypeople in ministry.
“Richard and Gina Headrick epitomize what it means to
be so grateful for salvation that they can’t get over it and
yet at the same time they have fun in life,” Patterson said.
“Their salvation has not created some religious
condescending type of person. They love the common people. A
house he recently built in Wyoming, he could have built with
the rich, but he moved across the street and built with the
poorest people in town. That’s just typical of him.”
Now the Headricks plan to devote their lives to mission
work, including building churches in El Salvador,
ministering in a leper colony in Vietnam and witnessing in
Haiti, Tibet and Nepal.
“We will still go to the jungles and desolate areas of
Third World countries, but no longer do we search for the
treasures of gold and silver,” Headrick said. “Now we search
for those who do not know Christ, and our mission is to
introduce them to Jesus Christ and give them the key to the
storeroom of his life-changing treasure of salvation.”

    About the Author

  • Lee Weeks