RICHMOND, VA. - Some good news, and a beautiful end to an otherwise very tragic story. Earlier this year, 17-year-old Sarah Harmening was traveling with her church group to the Atlanta airport. It was the beginning of a missionary trip to Botswana. That’s when tragedy struck. Their bus crashed, and Sarah died.
Wednesday, Sarah's parents and sisters all gathered in Richmond, Virginia to further the mission Sarah had started.
There was an outpouring of love and concern for the Harmenings following the accident. Their church family, their many friends, and total strangers - all touched by the Harmenings' strong show of faith - all responded in kind to lend their support.
Several fundraising efforts were undertaken with the help of organizations like Chick-Fil-A. But it was Sarah herself, in a final text message right before the accident, that guided the efforts of all involved.
She wrote, “We are like a wisp of smoke. We are only here for a moment and this is not about us. Life is not about us. It's about God who is eternal. So I want to dedicate the one moment I am here completely and entirely to him.”
“That's a glorious way to live. It's living for what's going to last forever,” said David Platt. Platt is the President of the International Mission Board and led the Wednesday morning worship service at IMB headquarters in Richmond, Virginia.
The Harmenings and their pastor were all there. They, too, were on a mission for Sarah.
“This is what was donated and raised in honor of Sarah, her life and legacy. So we're excited to bring the check for $91,120, all for Lottie Moon,” Sarah’s father, Scott Harmening told the congregation, to a standing ovation.
Every cent of the gift will go to support the Lottie Moon missionary efforts to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the far reaches of the planet. To places like Botswana, where Sarah was going.
“If we appear strong, it's because of our faith and because it is real, the reality of faith. I think a lot of times we acknowledge God, the existence of God, but actually having a relationship with Jesus Christ and with God and through the blood of Jesus Christ is very different, and that's where the reality comes in that sustains you in moments like these,” Sarah’s mother, Karen Harmening told WHNT News 19.
This is certainly not the end of the story. Perhaps it's the end of a chapter and the beginning of yet another one. The Harmenings say they now plan to travel to Botswana together, as a family, so that they can complete the mission that Sarah had only begun.
If you would like to support the missionary efforts in places like Botswana, you can make a donation directly to the Lottie Moon Mission by simply clicking here.
By the way, if you ever have a question about the power of faith, just talk with the Harmenings. They don't yet know when they'll make the trip to Botswana. When we hear, we'll let you know.