Harder Family

Harder Family

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Faithful Followers

Luke 14:25-33 "Now great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple."

During this last year, the girls and I have read countless missionary biographies as part of school. There are a few missionaries that have forever changed my life and have challenged me. 

1. Hudson Taylor, who was a missionary to China. His life story is both convicting and life changing. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all."

“Many Christians estimate difficulties in the light of their own resources, and thus attempt little and often fail in the little they attempt. All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence with them.”

"It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”

"The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”

2. Gladys Alyward, another missionary to China. She has been one of my favorite missionaries to read about and study her life. Her faith was astounding. Her life demonstrates what is possible if we take God at His word - no holding back - fully surrendered, all-out devotion and obedience to God!! Here is a quote from her: 

“As I read the first chapter, I felt very sorry for [Nehemiah] and understood why he wept and mourned when he heard about Jerusalem in its great need and could do nothing about it. He was a sort of butler and had to obey his employer, just like I did. Then I turned to the second chapter. ‘But he did go,’ I exclaimed aloud, and got up, a strange elation within me. ‘He went in spite of everything!’

As if someone was in the room, a voice said clearly, ‘Gladys Aylward, is Nehemiah’s God your God?’ 

‘Yes, of course!’ I replied.

‘Then do what Nehemiah did, and go.’

‘But I am not Nehemiah.’

‘No, but assuredly, I am his God.’

‘That settled everything for me. I believed these were my marching orders."

I highly recommend reading her story. Her faith every step of the journey is unbelievable. When you read all that God did in and through her, it feels like you are reading a story from the Bible of faithful people of old that God used (like David killing Goliath). It reminds us that we serve the same God who did awesome things with and through people in the Bible. There is no reason that God cannot use us the same way.

3. Bruce Olson, missionary to Indians in Columbia and Venezuela. He felt called by God to go to South America and he went. He fully out obeyed God and trusted Him to open the doors and lead him once he got there. God used this man to reach Indians who had never heard the gospel before. The Indians that came to know the Lord, shared with all the other Indians around them in the surrounding jungles. God's Spirit moved lives because Bruce obeyed God.

4. Brother Andrew "The Narrow Road", missionary who has smuggled Bibles since 1955. His autobiography is packed with dangerous adventures. His story testifies how God miraculously provides for those who follow where He leads. Here are some quotes from him:

"I have come to see clearly that life is more than self. It is more than doing what I want, striving for what will benefit me, dreaming of all I can be. Life is all about my relationship with God. There is no higher calling, no loftier dream, and no greater goal than to live, breathe, and be poured out for Jesus Christ."

"That's the excitement in obedience, finding out later what God had in mind."

"Of course it's dangerous. But it's a lot more dangerous for all of us if we don't do it. Even in a conquering army there are casualties. Safety is not the issue when we look at the Great Commission. The purpose of the church cannot be to survive, or even to thrive, but to serve."


The themes that emerged as I studied these missionaries' lives are these: obedience, surrender, and faithfully following God's lead. Each one of these people obeyed God, gave up everything they loved and owned, surrendered any pleasure they could have pursued, and followed God wherever He called them. The result of these individuals obeying God...thousands of lives were changed. Gladys Alyward and Hudson Taylor were used by God to influence thousands of people in China...which is now has one of the fastest growing Christian nations that is sending out missionaries around the world. Brother Andrew's Bible ministry not only helped spread the gospel, but he also helped encourage thousands of believers who were being persecuted. 

So the question is: I'm just one person, what can I do? Each one of the individuals above was just one person. But they weren't just one person, they were one person whose lives were fully surrendered to God. They chose to walk the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14) and follow God's leading, even if it meant death. Our family has been discussing this at night. Do we have this kind of faith? As we pray, we have been asking God to use us as He wants and to give us the faith to be used of Him as He has used these missionaries.

I personally want to have faith like Gladys - to surrender everything to the Lord and hop on a train to an unknown land if that is what God calls me to do. I'm tired of excuses and I'm tired of focusing on safety and security. I want to live and breathe Jesus to everyone around me. I have told the Lord, use me and send me wherever YOU want me to go. And then, I want to have the faith to step out of that boat and walk with Jesus wherever He calls us. That is what we did when we felt God calling us to adopt our sons. And as Brother Andrew said above, there is something exciting about obeying God, seeing Him move and discovering what He had in mind for your life. 

OBEDIENCE, SURRENDER, FAITHFULLY FOLLOWING - the three words I pray my life displays. I want God to be glorified in my life. Life is fleeting and short. I want my short life here on this earth to be used for HIM and not myself.


Update #1: Shan Chen is home recovering. We have 6.5 more weeks of keeping him off his leg. It is challenging keeping an active boy still and off his leg. My goal of not watching much TV this summer has gone out the window. We do lots of coloring, some math, games, and other things to keep him busy. Thank you for all of your prayers. He has done great and his wounds are healing quickly!!

Update #2: Wayne had his MRI yesterday. The doctor told us that everything looks good and there are no changes (praise the Lord). We are confident that Wayne is in God's hands. We know that God has a purpose for Wayne's life and that God knows the number of his days. There is no need to worry and fret about cancer coming back because God knows and we can trust Him!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Long Day...Long Night

Another update: Shan Chen did great in surgery and the doctor is pleased with the results. She was able to remove the big mass in his upper leg, but was only able to remove a little in the bottom portion of his leg because it was too embedded. We will be meeting with a team of doctors to figure out the best solution for his leg when he recovers. 

You can be praying for him as he is in a lot of pain. He hasn't slept much because of the pain. They gave him another drug to offset the dizziness that the pain killers have given him. It has been a long day, an even longer afternoon and evening. Please pray that we both can get some much needed sleep and that they are able to find the right balance of pain medication.

Just because he's cute, here are some pictures. He knows how to smile for the camera even when he's in pain. 

Update & Huge Prayer Request

Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."

Just a quick update and prayer request. First of all, Shan Chen is doing great according to the updates. They are getting ready to close his leg up now. I will update when we find out more.

Next, I need everyone to pray with me about China. Last night our time, China released new rules and regulations regarding the qualifications for families pursuing adoptions in China. We are praying that the families in process are grandfathered in, but it's not looking good. China has now limited families to five children in the home, only adopt one child at a time, one year in between adoptions, youngest child must be at least three, and more. We need families who can adopt to step up and help. Large families, who traditionally haven't been afraid to adopt kids with severe special needs and who are older, are now not allowed to adopt. With more children with special needs being added daily to orphanages, this is going to further impact their lives. My heart is so heavy and I've been praying all morning for my friends whose children and lives may be impacted by these new rules..And the precious children in China waiting for families.

God was in the pages of our story from the beginning of our adoption. We would be denied on at least three new requirements, if we were adopting right now. Our son would not be in the hospital receiving a much needed surgery if these rules were around a year ago when we started the process. I am so glad that we obeyed God's call and didn't delay!

Will you consider praying with me that new families will stand in the gap? Will you pray and earnestly ask God if He wants YOU to adopt and stand in the gap??? Lives are at stake with these new rules. I thank God that He loves these children more then we ever could. But we as His children are called to live for Him and be His hands and feet to the least of these. What can each of us do today to bring these children families and the love and security they are longing for??

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summer Fun & Surgery

Isaiah 41:10 "fear not, for I am with you;be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Deuteronomy 31:8 "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Tomorrow is Shan Chen's surgery. We got the call this afternoon that we need to be at the hospital by 6:30am. I am finishing my packing now. I took a quick break to update everyone and to post pictures of all the fun we have been squeezing into June before his surgery. Please pray for Shan Chen tomorrow that the doctors are able to remove more of the fatty tumor then they have estimated. Please also pray for a quick recovery. We have been told to expect an 8 week recovery (1-2 weeks in the hospital, rehab, and then recovery at home). We appreciate all of your prayers for our family during this time. Please also pray for DJ as he will be losing his roommate and friend for at least a week, maybe longer (depending on when they let him go home). Pray that he survives having six moms while the real mom is at the hospital with Shan Chen.

Here is our June recap. It is a little out of order. I don't know what my computer did. 

Blueberry Picking (7/5/17)

Strawberry Picking (6/5/17)

No trip to Johnson's Farm is complete without a stop at Albanese Candy store!

Played at many different playgrounds

DJ's Broken Wrist (bike accident)

Got his hard cast and back to riding his bike. This boy thing is all new to me!!

Chinatown (7/3/17)
Each summer the kids get to pick three things they really want to do during the summer. We try to do as many as we can. Shan Chen and DJ picked visit Chinatown, which really means eating at an authentic Chinese restaurant.

Fireworks (7/3/17)

Fourth of July Parade (7/4/17)

Shan Chen was catching as many rollypollys as he could. I think he had over 40 at one point! We waited for the girls to come marching by with their swim team.

 Catching Fireflies!!

 Planetarium: 6/9/17

Museum of Science & Industry: 6/12/17

Learning about tornadoes.

This mirror maze is crazy. I was so dizzy by the end. Of course the kids had me go through it about four times. My old brain couldn't handle the craziness!

Shedd Aquarium: 6/6/17

Rifle Camp: 6/16/17
This was one of the highlights for the kids this summer. We spent the whole day learning gun safety, archery, shooting .22, and shooting shotguns. The people who volunteer their time for this event were great. They were so patient and kind to the little girls and came up with creative ways to make it work for the boys! Plus, it was free!!!!

I will update everyone tomorrow as we find out more about how Shan Chen is progressing in his surgery. Thank you for all of your prayers!!