Howdy Folks! Thank you so much for all those who pray for and support OIT. The love is felt each and every day as we continue in the mission set before us. Thank you for your patience and trust in us over this past year. Would you please share our mission with friends and family in 2014? Forward this email to a friend or print one out and hand it to a neighbor. The more people we have PRAYING and talking the better. Please PRAY for OIT! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
What do you “do”?
If you had asked me a year ago what we would be doing right now I would have looked you in the eye and said awkwardly, “I have no idea…” So when people ask me what I “do” I often have a hard time defining it. We meet new people everyday in our work and I often give them a laundry list of things I’ve done in the past or current projects I’m involved in. So what do I do? What is my position, vocation, career or occupation? It feels strange to say it out loud. I’ve never been much for titles so when I try to convey to people what I do, what my family is a part of, I often stumble around the issue. I still struggle to wrap my brain around the concept of who we are and what we do. So I say this with total humility and a little disbelief. We are missionaries.
We are missionaries! Our goal is simple. Share Jesus with the unreached. Over a year ago now I quit my job, we sold our house and moved to Maryville, Tennessee. We didn’t cross any foreign borders and we didn’t need any special permits or shots. We don’t miss family gatherings and we kept our cell phone numbers. We didn’t have a new job or a new house to settle into but we felt like this was what we were supposed to do. People from every tongue and tribe and nation are here…..so…...we are here too. I know it doesn’t sound too exotic and we definitely don’t fit the traditional definition of “missionaries” but for some crazy reason we decided to trust God on His word.
Matthew “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I know. It’s too small and straightforward to be true, right? It’s too simple to even believe. I mean God doesn’t actually want us to drop everything and follow His lead, does He? What if I told you that without a shadow of a doubt I know that’s exactly what He wants us to do.
Exactly, simply, faithfully. What if He took all our pride in who we are and what we do, ground it up and threw it in the fire and said simply, “follow me”. Would you bring up all the risks involved or balk at how everyone you knew would think you were nuts? Would you mention your kids’ education or tell Him how hard “you” had worked to get where you are? Would you tell Him about how those words don’t apply to you because we live in a different time and place? Or, would you dare to openly disobey, knowing your role and your mission but refusing to accept your call? You know what I did? All of the above, for years and months and days. Every one of them and about 500 more.
All He asked was that I put Him first and me last and He would work out all the details because He is my Father who loves me. Is that so much to ask? I means it’s only……….. everything. Jesus said another overwhelmingly insane thing when it comes to letting go.
Luke “ Whosoever shall seek to save his life will lose it, and whoever shall lose his life will preserve it.”
How in the world could we follow this paradoxical leadership? It goes against our very core. It is the polar opposite of all we want to become and gain. Why would Jesus put this kind of pressure on us? Do you know why? I do. Because it’s real. The reality of that teaching forces a decision. Choose me or don’t. Follow me or walk off. It’s up to you.
At the end of 2012 we made a decision to listen and follow. This is just the simple story of a year in the life of a broken, foolish, proud, sinner, Missionary. I’ve been up and down. I’ve quit jobs and gained 6 new ones. I’ve met a thousand new friends and seen faith increase in the lost. I’ve seen love from friends and strangers that gave more than they could afford. I’ve seen fear conquered and houses sold with a handshake over a cup of coffee at McDonalds. I’ve seen my pride drug through the dirt and I finally know what it’s like to ask….for my daily bread…..and get it.
2013 was wild. I’ve wanted to give up and walk off so many times I can’t count but I’ve finally seen what happens when you lose your “life” and I just can’t get enough. The Israelites in the desert got enough “manna” for each day. It will drive you crazy sometimes, but I get it now. God wants us to trust Him and ask for our needs to be met. Thank you to all those who listened to His call to lift up OIT this past year. We are forever indebted.
The life of a missionary isn't an ordinary existence. We work strange hours and have crazy friends. There is a flow of people, language, work, prayer and need that one must get used to. Yet, each passing day God shows us He is with us. We are alive and healthy in a home we marvel at each day, working a job that isn’t really a job at all. We accept this for what it is and do what needs to be done, knowing that it could all end
So, what will the new year bring for these missionaries?
I hope much more of what we have already seen. . Are we blessed? I don’t even think that word can partially define what we are. Hot coffee, hot showers, and clean clothes are abundant. We eat too much, drink clean water and sleep in warm beds every night. Our house is the exact temperature we want it to be at the flip of a switch. Our cars start and run down the road to any number of stores to buy just about anything we can imagine. Blessed? I guess you could say that. If it all ended would we still praise God? I hope so. Will God be bigger than our circumstances in 2014? He will be if we let Him. Will we continue to “seek first”? I don’t know what else we could do given the evidence of this past year.
- Connections are made daily with new friends and ministry partners- Our volunteer crew continues to amaze us with their gifts of time and love- ESL (English as a Second Language) class continue to go well with 15 to 25 students a week- We have connected with people from all over the world here in Maryville (over 20 countries)- Our weekly ladies Bible study continues to be a huge part of our ministry- One on one relationships continue to be an awesome way to present the Gospel- Student ministry is about to resume for the Spring semester- I (Bo) got a part-time job at the local Senior center which is a perfect fit for the OIT schedule- We were able to share the Christmas story with many unreached for the first time- God has continued to meet our needs daily in the most unbelievable ways
Please send us a quick hello when you get this. Our email program is still a bit weird and I want to make sure we aren’t ending up in people’s junk mail. Thanks again.
Bo, Bek, Lila, and River
Missionaries to the Unreached
Please reply with questions, comments or snide remarks anytime!
All Outreach International missionaries are required to raise 100% of ministry and personal needs. Outreach International is a 501c3 and takes 0% of our funding. That’s right 0%! If you would like to help OIT please follow the directions below. Those who contributed in 2013 will be receiving their year end contribution receipts soon. Thank you for your help fulfilling God's leading in our lives! If you would like a financial report or have have any questions, feel free to contact us at anytime.HOW TO GIVE
Mail:Outreach InternationalPO Box 272Shelbyville MO 63469:write “OIT 2602” in memo line of the check(all funds go to our account)
Online:2. Follow the “give” tab3. Mark your gift “OIT 2602”(all funds go to our account, but we do lose a small percentage to PayPal).
*All gifts are tax deductible and will be receipted at the end of year
The Hardings OIT
Aug - Sept
· Contribution Income