Sarah loved the book Little Women, her face lit up everytime she talked about it. She identified with Beth, one of the main characters, who not only happened to be a third daughter in a family of four daughters, but sadly also died at a young age. Beth was very reserved, quiet and shy, much like Sarah. The quote Sarah copied in her journal below is about Beth. Sarah loved this quote, and I’m certain she loved it because her gentle and quiet spirit identified with it. Like Beth, Sarah was very much a “little cricket” easily missed or overlooked against the backdrop of this loud and busy world.
“There are many Beth’s in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind.” ~ Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
In addition to Little Women, Sarah also loved stories of faith. She was constantly devouring testimonies and books by and about those who were persecuted and martyred. She had been captivated by the faith of persecuted Christians and martyrs for several years. She longed to possess the faith of the martyrs, she longed to be willing to lay down her life for Christ. The day before the bus crash, as she and I discussed the most recent horrific martyring of Christians in Egypt, she shared that she used to worry if she would have the faith to persevere if she were in that situation. She shared she had found peace, though, as God had confirmed in her spirit that He would sustain and strengthen her faith if He called her to that. She had realized her confidence was not to be in self or perceived spiritual maturity, but rather in knowing that as she walked in humble surrender to God, He would fully infuse her thereby enabling her to obediently fulfill her calling, even unto death.
1: a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion
2: a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle a martyr to the cause of freedom
3:victim;especiall: a great or constant sufferer a martyr to asthma all his life — A. J. Cronin
I can still see and hear a conversation I had with Sarah shortly before she left for Botswana. She stood in the den next to the couch telling me no matter what happened on the mission trip she had peace it was within God’s will because she absolutely knew God had called her to go. There was an unmistakable gleam of absolute assurance in her eyes as she spoke those words. At that moment I had a compelling realization, within my precious “little cricket” beat the heart of a lion. The faith of the martyrs was now powerfully coursing through her veins. In the traditional sense of the word Sarah was not a martyr, but this mother’s heart knows that in the truest sense of the word she absolutely was. The fear-resolving, life-sacrificing faith of the martyrs she had pondered for years had been realized through the full and humble surrender of her heart and will to the God of the universe. All of this clearly reflected and confirmed in the final words that poured from her heart into her journal in the days and weeks leading up to her departure.
“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” Act 4:13 [NASB]
Though she did not die at the hands of men seeking to destroy the name of Jesus Christ, she did die at the hand of the enemy. God spoke to my heart immediately after the accident that Satan had requested to sift our family and that He, God, had allowed him to do so. As the enemy unleashed his wrath on us that day, he sought to both silence Sarah through physical death and turn our family from our faith in God. Our enemy failed to realize a powerful truth though: our God is The Mighty Redeemer. He is The Mighty Redeemer who miraculously turns even the seemingly absolute devastation inflicted by the enemy to be used instead for His own glory and honor. The enemy sought to silence Sarah, but instead our Redeemer launched the powerful testimony of our “little cricket” around the globe within 48 hours. I continue to be awe struck by how God has and is using Sarah’s life and testimony. It has been such a beautiful reminder that He takes ordinary people fully surrendered to Him and uses them in extraordinary ways.
The enemy also sought and continues to seek to turn us as a family away from our Lord and Savior, but instead we immediately and continually run straight to the shadow of His wing, Our Rock, Our Fortress and Our Deliverer. The enemy strategically hurled us into the furnace seeking to destroy our faith with his scorching flames. As we stand in the fire, Our Mighty Redeemer lavishly pours out His sustaining grace and mercy upon us moment by moment, hour by hour, and day by day. He tenderly ministers to us in the midst of the flames kindled to destroy us. As He faithfully sustains us through His abiding presence and precious and magnificent promises our faith is not destroyed but instead forged, strengthened and purified.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 [NASB]
Our family’s passionate prayer for the past year and a half has been to see a mighty transforming revival sweep through our church and community. Sarah rightly wrote in her Biblical Worldview, “God uses the worst times of trial and persecution to spread the gospel.” Like many before her, I pray that the Lord will use Sarah’s life and testimony as a seed for revival at Mount Zion Baptist Church and abroad. I pray that the excruciating pain of her absence will be redeemed through continued testimonies of lives changed through salvation and total surrender to Him. How I long to be able to repeat the words of Joseph to the enemy, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:20 [NASB]
At this very moment our precious seventeen year old little girl is worshipping our Lord and Savior in the midst of the martyrs whose faith she aspired to emulate. She has joined that great cloud of witnesses as they cheer us on, she and they are crying out challenging us to persevere with the same faith God provided them and longs to provide us. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 [NASB]
Botswana Devotion (Day 4) 5/18/17
(and Psalms 125-128 and 2 Corinthians 13)
- Acts 11:19-26
- Isn’t it incredible that we get to carry on the work of the apostles and the early church? And we have no disadvantage. The same Spirit that lived in them lives in us!
- Psalm 126:5-6
- Psalm 128:1-2 ❤ – There is a reason to keep pressing on and doing good when people even hate you for it. It may not be any time soon, but eventually you will receive your reward, it will be completely and entirely worth it.
- 2 Corinthians 13:11
~ Sarah Harmening
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6 [NASB]
“But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 [NASB]