Chris Richardson can make people smile just by turning on the music in his truck.
But this isn’t an ordinary truck, this one carries ice cream.
Starting God’s Smile Factory Ice-Cream last summer, Richardson uses the business as a ministry.
“It’s the most incredible business because it puts smiles on faces,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to talk to lots of people about life as they’ve been eating their ice cream. I’ve prayed for so many people out the window of that truck and let God do the rest.”
Before opening the part time ice cream truck business, Richardson had never sold anything before and was a little unsure of the job.
“A friend asked me if I wanted to run an ice cream truck and I thought it seemed like a cheesy job but I prayed about it,” Richardson said. “God told me ‘Don’t miss the ministry opportunity I am putting before you.’”
Richardson was amazed the first time he took his ice cream truck out and turned on the music.
“I took the truck out through North Wilkesboro, people ran out waving their hands and laughing,” he said. “Adults have come up with tears in their eyes talking about the memories I had just brought back from their childhood.”
Never knowing what an ice cream truck was until he was 40 years old, Richardson is not only happy to bring back old memories but create new ones for younger generations.
“The music of an ice cream truck really changes the atmosphere. It’s something positive people can relate to,” he said. “That’s why our slogan is ‘making happy memories,’ because that’s what it’s all about.”
As the summer winds down, Richardson said he would enjoy a permanent ice cream location but is letting God take control.
“I’d love to have a permanent location and have an old timey ice cream shop one day,” Robertson said. “As God grows this business, who knows what will evolve.”
Right now, the ice cream truck business is a part time job for Richardson. He usually makes his way through Elkin on Sunday afternoons and evenings, but doesn’t have a set route.
However, his full time job is running a tent ministry as an Evangelist; traveling all over the United States and spreading the Word; traveling to areas like Wisconsin, Florida, Tennessee and even setting up a 5,000 person tent on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
In 2010, he traveled to Israel and had his tent on the Mount of Olives.
Born and raised in Wilkes County by chicken farmers, Richardson graduated from West Wilkes High School and worked in industrial maintenance before 18 years before following God’s call.
“I’ve been doing tent ministry for 15 years this past July,” Robertson said. “I accepted the calling to go into ministry. I was young, green and ready to save the world. I’ve started this journey and it’s been incredible.”
Richardson started speaking in nursing homes, had a radio broadcast for seven years and also pastured several churches. Then the Lord told him that he needed to take his ministry to the road.
“I had a guy ask me if I wanted to take a 5,000 person tent across the U.S. I prayed about it and finally told him I was interested and it took him awhile to get back with me,” Richardson said. “That night I had a dream about an old time circuit pastor riding a horse across the United States. I thought, ‘Lord what the heck was that?’ The next day the guy called me and asked when I could head out on the road.”
Richardson will be traveling to Wisconsin in a few weeks with his tent ministry.
Through ice cream and his ministry, Richardson says he hopes to make a positive difference in the Elkin community.
“Elkin is a special place and there is a lot of hurting people from the industry it has lost. I just want to bring back some happiness and help give people hope,” he said. “I take everything one day at a time and see how many smiles I can put on faces.”
Reach Jessica Pickens at 835-1513 ext. 18 or email@example.com.