Gary Harvey

I was born in a household that worshiped God and revered Jesus as God’s perfect Son. My dad was a Baptist pastor; my mother was a school teacher, secretary, and homemaker. Both loved the Lord and served Him faithfully. They exemplified their passion for their Savior to their seven children, to their church family, and to the communities we lived in.

My childhood was punctuated by family devotions around the dinner table, prayer at regular times as well as times of special needs and participation in all church-related events. Matters of spiritual activity and growth were such a part of my formative years (from the “cradle roll” on up) that it felt as if it were in my DNA.

When I was nine years old, I attended a Royal Ambassador Camp in Missouri. This was my first experience away from home for more than a day. At a Thursday night campfire service, the camp missionary dispensed with his routine of slides and missions stories. Instead, he shared the gospel of Jesus clearly and succinctly. It was a gospel I was very comfortable hearing, but this evening the Holy Spirit touched me in a unique way.

The missionary stated that forgiveness for sins was essential to know and please God. He suggested that even though my parents (very important to me) would, if they could, step in and plead my case before God – they could not. It was up to me to accept the free gift of God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Suddenly, as a nine year old, my eyes were opened to my own responsibility to acknowledge God’s gift and to formally ask Jesus to forgive me, to save me from my sinful self and to take control of my life. I did so publicly before the whole group that evening.

I made my decision known to my church family a couple of weeks later and was baptized at the First Baptist Church in Higginsville, Missouri. The same night I was converted I also had a strong sense that if I was to turn over complete control of my life to Jesus I had to be willing to surrender every aspect of it – including my career choice.

That evening, as a nine-year-old, I sensed that if my dedication to the Lord was genuine I had to be willing to become a missionary to the farthest ends of the earth, live in grass huts and eat nuts and berries, if that is what was asked of me. Though the prospect of doing this was frightening to me at the time, I assured the Lord that I was willing to do that.

I believe that experience was an initial call to ministry. At age 18, I publicly acknowledged to the Beaumont Baptist Church (Kansas City, MO) that God had called me to full-time vocational service. I followed through by obtaining a music degree in college and a couple of degrees from seminary in order to become a minister of music. My wife, Carol and I were married while attending seminary and I served two churches (Missouri and Tennessee) the next 18 years first as a worship leader, then as a Christian education pastor. I left the second church to move to Fort Worth to pursue advanced theological training – a terminal degree that would hopefully lead to a teaching position on the college level.

My career direction has not turned out the way I thought it would. God is teaching me patience (I’m a stubborn pupil in that regard) and I am endeavoring to learn how to trust God in whatever circumstance. My spiritual goal is to abide cheerfully in the Lord (John 15) daily and to serve Him faithfully – regardless of my vocation. Maturing in the Lord, for me, is not a smooth, steady upward trajectory. It is more a matter of “fits and starts.” However, I know the Lord loves me and is slowly building in me Christ-likeness that He can use somewhere, somehow.

Besides serving as a deacon, I co-teach the Anchor Class during the second Bible study time and drive the church bus once a month on Sunday mornings and special occasions. My wife of 32 years is Carol and we have three daughters: Amy, Jennifer, and Laura.

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