Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer 2014 OiT

It’s July…are you kidding me?  Is it really July already!?  
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Outreach
  International
    Tennessee
OIT is an ministry under the guidance of Outreach International. We are a 501c3 Non-Profit.  Visit our sending organization anytime at oionline.org

Bek, Lila, Bo and River
Summer 2014
 
OiT has been busy in the first half of 2014.  We continue to work in the Knoxville / Maryville area and continue to see lives changed by the love we are able to give those we meet.  This is all possible because of the love we have been shown through Jesus!  He is the only thing matters!  God continues to give us favor among men and the funding we need to continue!  Awesome!
 
Our work is very relationally driven.  At the beginning of this year we had a large group meeting for local supporters and volunteers.  We were able to express in that meeting some of our goals and vision for the future of OiT.  Detailed, intimate, loving relationships continue to be the core of what we do.  OiT has a system of sorts that helps us keep ministry in perspective and running smoothly.  
 

3 Levels of Ministry - Our Vision and Hope for 2014 and beyond...
 
1.  Large Group Gatherings - Time for meeting and greeting the community we work with.  A time to eat and laugh and share our lives and our love.  This is a low pressure - high connection environment and we are seeing so many great things come out of it. (Jesus feeds the 5000)
 
2. Small Group Gatherings - These include, ESL, Bible Study, Music classes and other small family gatherings. These are times for people to get to know “Christianity” from a birds eye perspective.  Real believers living out the gospel in front of the unreached.  (Jesus meets in homes and teaches in the Temple)
 
3. One on One - Lunch - Coffee - Life -  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Time to talk without all the kids around or the chaos of a large group.  People get to answer and ask questions and we get to present the Gospel on their individual language and life level.    (Jesus speaks directly to His disciples.  The woman at the well.  Nicodemus ask questions.)
 
This “system”  helps us recruit volunteers and keep our connections in perspective.  All this is given up constantly in prayer.  
 
Our objectives are fairly simple. We want to teach Jesus whenever and wherever we have the opportunity.  The unreached are all around us and we love introducing them to the God who created them.  
 
Challenges
 
One of our biggest challenges is waiting on God.  He keeps giving us time to dig, and plant and weed the garden but it seems that we are still waiting for the seeds to sprout in most cases.  We are encouraged though by outside perspective.  People continue to come alongside us and tell us how amazed they are by some aspect of the ministry or how deeply they have connected with people from various cultures who are known for their fear of outsiders.  
 
We have found that the international community is so varied that it’s difficult to use a single method to encompass our evangelism work.  The ladies have been very involved with bible study and a preschool music class.  This seems to work well with the Japanese ladies and their kiddos, and acts as a way for them to teach the gospel in a non-formal environment with varying language skills.
 
Many of the men in the Asian cultures are harder to bond with, but the guys have been tutoring English and working with students at Maryville College.  This is also a mixed bag, and offers a huge variety of cultures with varying levels of students to work with.  With such a diverse level of english skills and social orders, it’s difficult for this community to understand and be able to ask questions in the larger American style church gatherings.
This is why home groups, small bible studies, and social gatherings are so important for OiT to succeed. We know that the church plays a huge part for OIT. Its prayers and support are the foundation for God’s work, no matter what the mission.  Our hope is to partner with local churches all over East Tennessee in order to share our vision, and peak the interest of others who want to work with people from around the world.
 
Recently
 
We find ourselves working with about 80% Japanese and 20% other cultures including Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Pakistani and Chinese among others.  This wasn’t not our plan but it has been the natural order of things and seems to be where God continues to lead us.  
 
Greg (my brother in law and ministry partner) puts things in perspective in a recent newsletter:
 
This summer, we have been able to reconnect with several of our International students from Maryville College, as well as meeting new ones. We have them over once a week to eat, hang out, and talk. One student we have known for almost three years is interested in spiritual things more than ever. Just recently, he and I had a conversation about God, Jesus and Christianity. He shared how he struggles with believing in God because he can't see God. I encouraged him to start asking God to make himself known to him. He said that he wasn't ready to pray that because he thinks God might do it, and he admitted that he's not ready. I thanked him for his honesty, and told him I value our friendship and let him know I want to help however I can. He did say that he is interested in looking at what the Bible says about Jesus. Pray for our times together, that he would see Jesus for who He is, what He's done, and what that means for his life.

This past Sunday, we had six Japanese families come to our Father's Day Celebration in the Park. One of the Japanese dads that was there said it best, "We met as a family and had a happy time." We shared how important fathers are to the family and how difficult fatherhood is, but that God, our heavenly Father, helps us with our struggles and weaknesses. Just like in America, Japan's society is hurting from the absence of Godly fathers. So, we treasure the opportunities to lift up the role of Godly fathers, and share the difficulty of the job, but also the help that God wants to give.”
 
We recently hooked up with a International group called RJCN (Reaching Japanese for Christ Network).  This is an interdenominational crew whose vision is to reach the half a million Japanese who (temporarily) reside in Canada and the United States.  Here is their world wide interweb link -  http://rjcnetwork.org/  Check them out!  Pray for them!  We hope to connect with them more this year and attend a regional gathering in Nashville very soon.  
 
We have also been in connection with Mustard Seed Christian Church in Nagoya, Japan.  We hope that as families leave this side of the world they will have a connection point with Christians on the other side.  Please check out their site and send a note of encouragement if you have a minute!  Pray for these connections to be made and for God’s mission there.  Here is their internet web address hyperlink… www.mustardseednagoya.com  Go to it!  If you're feeling frisky even sign up for their newsletter!  Pray for this church!
 
OiT is a work in progress.  We know that with God we can accomplish His will for His people!  The gospel is the center of all we do!  Thanks for helping pray, love, and push us along!  We love you all!  Thank you!  Pray for Lila Belle… That wild thing starts school in August!
 
Please pray for the OiT team when you have time! (Turn down the radio in your car and pray while you drive - It’s better than screaming at slow people to go faster...believe me I know...) We would love to send you a new flyer and pen if you haven’t received one yet. Shoot me a note and address and I’ll mail you one this week!  Also please send us any prayer requests you might have anytime.  We would love to pray for our supporters and friends!  


Much love,
 
Bo, Bek, Lila, and River
 
Missionaries to the Unreached
 
 
P.S. -   Bo is back on the book of faces…  Find me on Facebook and friend me if I haven’t found you yet…  (Bo Harding - Maryville, TN)..  send me a message or prayer request anytime!  I’m using this awesome tool for ministry and connection to friends and family alike…Let the social networking begin…..again…..    It’s been a while Facebook.com…..but I’m back.  ….sorry for all the hurtful things I’ve said about you…      
 
 

 
Please reply with questions, comments or snide remarks anytime!
   

Friday, May 30, 2014

Death and Taxes and Faith…




Death and Taxes and Faith…
 
There are few certain things in life.  Faith has steadily become one of those certain things.
 
I was introduced to a man named George Muller at the beginning of this journey and he often returns to my thoughts.  George started quite a few ministries in his day and in a sense defined faith by the way He trusted God for EVERYTHING. Müller was a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England in the Mid- 1800s. He spent his life trusting in God.
 
As I read the book, “A Life of Trust” I was confused, empowered, and quite often flabbergasted.  There is of course no way all of Muller’s prayers could have been answered, and in such timely fashion.  I would read over and over about how God stepped in to take care of the poor or how He would supply the wages of the workers at the orphanage right on time. This guy would just pray and wait. Over and over.  God just kept calling out His people to do His work.  Insane, right?
 
Half the time while reading I labeled Mr. Muller a liar under my breath.  The other half I smirked at the “coincidences” which appeared on every page.  Come on.  This kinda stuff doesn’t really happen.  Even if it did happen it won’t happen again and it certainly won’t happen to some fool from Virginia.
 
Hebrews 11:6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
 
You know what?  I am starting to buy into this stuff. It’s happening.  It’s happening right now.  OiT tested God and He said, “OK you little weasels, Watch This!”  Day after day we see blessings pour in. We are seeing His hands and feet lift up a ministry that is completely His. Why would He refuse to glorify Himself? It’s run by sinners and kept afloat by saints.  The simple things mean so much! Crazy prayers...Check! Broken people...Check! Volunteers...Check! Bills paid...Check!  Food in fridge...Check! Clothes on backs...Check!
 
I know I seem like a broken record on these newsletters but I’m telling you there is something to this “faith” thing.  Its seems like some kind of strange paradox that faith could be a certainty or that trust in an invisible God could be so real that it could take over your life.  I guess the more we cry out the more we just get removed from the equation. Will we continue to let God take the helm through the calm and the storm?  
 
If we don’t step out we will never know.

Thank you for your prayer filled support! We are so grateful to be a small part of this huge commission! Jesus asked us to tell.  Why include humans in this impossible endeavor?  I don’t know.  I really don’t know. It’s mind blowing that God would want us anywhere near His gospel. It’s like having a garbage truck deliver The Crown Jewels.  We are unworthy on every level.  God help us all as we continue to go and tell.  God you are worthy, lead us!

Pray for more time and opportunities with the lost!
 
 

Much love,
 
Bo, Bek, Lila, and River
 
Missionaries to the Unreached

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Hardings - Winter 2013 - 2014


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.

Letting go...

Matthew 6:33  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 17:33  “ 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.

Missionary Life

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 tomorrow.  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 tomorrow 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.

So, what will the new year bring for these missionaries?
 I hope much more of what we have already seen.  


News:

- 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.  

Much love,

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 International
PO Box 272
Shelbyville MO 63469:
write “OIT 2602” in memo line of the check
 (all funds go to our account)

Online:
1.  Go to www.oionline.org
2.  Follow the “give” tab
3.  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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Outreach International Tennessee
Fall 2013

The Hardings


As I drove past Wal-Mart a few days ago I noticed a man and a boy sitting in the grass at the  main entrance of the shopping center.  My interest was peaked when I saw a sign and what looked to be a father and his 9 or 10 year old son.  The sign was written in English and said, “HELP PLEASE, NEED MONEY FOR RENT AND FOOD. THANK YOU.”

I slowed at the stop sign and rolled my window down. “Where are you guys from?”, I asked. “Hello. Hello. I have no English. Sorry. Sorry.”, the man replied and lifted his sign. Again I asked, “What country are you from?”  Suddenly a connection was made. “Romania!”, the man replied with a huge smile. My brain was suddenly sent to war torn Eastern Europe with ravaged economies and ongoing civil wars. What in the world is this guy doing here?  Romania? I don’t speak Romanian in the slightest. Not one word. How do I help this guy.  What can I do?  Feeling helpless myself I opened my wallet and pulled out what I had. “God bless you sir.”, was the reply as his son came and took the crumpled cash. I smiled and nodded as I drove off wondering what would happen to these lost souls.

What else could I do?  I don't’ have endless resources? I can’t let this guy live at my house. Can I? Maybe the Salvation Army?  Nope. Full.  Maybe a local shelter? No.  Father and kids not allowed, only moms and kids. Dead end.  Am I just a sappy dope looking to help some loser and his kid?  I’m sure they collect plenty each day to survive. Right? I made a few more phone calls and decided I had to go back.

Pulling into the parking lot behind them I motioned them to come over.  I spoke English slowly trying to make any connection whatsoever. “What….is...your..name?”. Nothing… “Do...you..have….a..car? I act the sentence out as I spoke pointing and pretending to turn a steering wheel.  Nothing.  I ask about Romania.  I ask about his English level.  I ask about his companion who I think is his son.  Finally the man tells me in mangled half English that he speaks French very well.  OK, now we are getting somewhere.  I half-way jokingly asks if he speaks Spanish. “Si, Si, Si hablo Espanol!” ( Yes, Yes, Yes I speak Spanish!) You have to be kidding me right?  A Romanian fluent in French sitting in front of a Wal-Mart in Maryville Tennessee is telling me he speaks Spanish too?  

Now folks,  I speak just enough Spanish to get myself kicked out of Spain. So, I quickly dredged up every 10th grade Spanish vocabulary word that I could muster.  Hola, coche, muerta, todos, personas, tienda, la carreta, taco, muchas gracias, mucho gusto and the like came whirling back.  Miss. Molina would be proud of me. She only passed me on my high school final because she didn’t want to see my face for another semester.  Look at me now!  Speaking Espanol to a Romanian in an East Tennessee Wal-mart parking lot.  My friends, I’ve finally arrived.

I thought I had a lot of important things to do the other day.  I was off to conquer a stack of paperwork and bills in a quiet office while sipping a large coffee from MceeDee’s.  God had other plans.  I heard about trials and triumphs, learned about the sacrifices made to get to America and my heart broke as I looked into the tired eyes of a 10 year old boy who could barely say the word, “Hello.”  Each time that I spoke about Jesus goosebumps would appear on Mario’s arms and he would shake his head and mumble a prayer in Romanian as he “crossed” himself.  Aleen, his son, was trying to get into a school near Asheville, North Carolina and they had gotten stranded in Maryville.  My brother in law Greg set up a hotel room and I filled up a beat up old Dodge Caravan with gas.  It wasn’t much but we did what we could and after 4 or 5 hours of hilarious Spanish charades it was time to go.  As we left Mario called us his “hermanos” - brothers. We prayed together that God would lead His journey and be with him and his son as they traveled.  

This is was no accident. No coincidence. No random meeting of random people.  This was what happens when a ministry is prayed for by it’s supporters and partners.  This is where Outreach International Tennessee shines because of the love and support we receive from people like you.  It’s times like these when I shudder and realize the connection that we all have through a loving God who never leaves us or forsakes us.  

OIT is alive and well thanks to you!  We recently handed out Free ESL (English as a Second Language) flyers to over 30 local businesses who employ or are owned by Internationals. We met people from Cambodia, China, Japan, Jamaica, Honduras, Cuba, Vietnam, India and Mexico. Wow!  The International Community is alive and well here and we hope that Free ESL classes will be a gateway for Jesus to be introduced and for relationships to be made.  

We continue to host Bible studies and work with students each week.  We know that if just one person can come to know Jesus and return home with that knowledge that an entire country can be changed.  We leave it all in God’s hands and are forever indebted for the love, grace and praise we have been show by our supporters.  We think of you daily and pray for you often. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!    

Much love,

Bo, Bek, Lila and Riv


Prayer Requests:

ESL ( English as a Second Language) Course - Pray for those who come to not only learn English but to see and learn about Jesus from their teachers.

The Patel family - Local Indian family that runs a small hotel.  We tutor them and share Jesus with them.

Our Chinese teens that we work with each week

Japanese Ladies Bible Study - That more would come and that God would touch their hearts

Our Team - Hardings/Pitners - Still in transition and finding the balances of full time ministry

That God opens more doors and more hearts in our community.  Thank you so much!




Aug - Sept  2013   Financial Report



The Hardings OIT
Aug - Sept

Income




· Contribution Income
3,621.80

Total Income

3,621.80

Expense




               · Benefits
1,781.29


· Evangelism
339.58


               · Office
388.94


               · Travel
480.15

Total Expense

2,989.96
Net Income


631.84



Please reply with questions, comments or snide remarks anytime!

Bo      423.341.6563  hardingbo@gmail.com
Bek    423.341.6568  bekah.harding@gmail.com

http://outreachinternationaltennessee.blogspot.com/