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Couple follows ‘broken hearts’ to Africa

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–They’re a young couple. Their first child arrived this year. A whole life lies ahead.

During these difficult economic times, maybe the smart thing to do is settle down, search for stable jobs and save for the future.

But that’s not what Jim and Katie Harmon* have in mind. They plan to head to Africa next year to work among one of the hardest-to-reach Muslim people groups in the world.

The Harmons are among 57 people being appointed in November as missionaries by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. While decreased funding has forced Southern Baptists to limit the overall number of workers worldwide, new missionaries still are being sent to deliver the Good News of Jesus to the lost.

Where the Harmons are going, people are lost.

Katie knows from experience: Before she and Jim were married, she worked for two years as a journeyman missionary among the same African people group they will be serving together.

“The Lord definitely gave me a broken heart for them,” says Katie, a Georgia native. “My prayer from then on was, ‘Lord, we’ll go wherever You want us to go, but if You want to send us back to them, that’s fine by me.'”

Jim, from Alabama, also was a journeyman at the time, working to reach isolated villages in South America with the Gospel. But as he kept in touch with Katie halfway around the world, “I found myself praying for her people sometimes with even more fervor than I was praying for my own,” he admits. “I knew they didn’t have the access to the Gospel my people had.”

After their journeyman terms, Jim and Katie married, but the love God gave them for their African people deepened.

“It’s just grown in our hearts more and more,” Katie says. “We’re very excited to see how He will use us in the future.”

They’ll study language and culture initially, then build a team of workers who will make disciples, who in turn will disciple others.

Their challenge to others who might be putting off God’s call because of the economy: Take a short-term mission trip to an unreached area. See for yourself how many people don’t know Jesus — and how few Christians are trying to reach them. Remember their faces to make it personal.

Then ask God what He wants you to do about it.
*Names changed. Reported by the International Mission Board’s communications staff.

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