The Story Of Missionary George Harley

“Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9b-10)

I read this story from the book “The Call To Joy And Pain: Embracing Suffering In Your Ministry” by Ajith Fernando.

George Harley was sent to Liberia (Africa) as a medical missionary in 1925. The first five years he was there, no local African ever came to the church where he ministered, and no one responded to the gospel during all that time. Then one day his young son died. With the exception of one African man, no one came to the place of burial. After shoveling dirt onto the coffin, Harley was overcome with so much grief that he put his head down in the dirt and started crying uncontrollably. The African who was watching all this raised the doctor’s head by the hair and looked into his face for a long time. Then he ran into the village crying, “White man, white man, he cry like one of us.” At the following Sunday service the place was packed with Africans. Harley continued his ministry in Liberia with great success for 35 years. But before all these results, Harley had to first give his son.

Today, we usually start our church ministry by utilizing our “strengths.” We find out about our “spiritual gifts” and try to use those talents to serve God. We arm ourselves with pedigrees and reputations. We boast of successes and numbers.

But the power of God arises out of our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Notice that Jesus’ ministry to the Samaritan woman started from a position of weakness (“Give me a drink” — John 4:7). And God’s master plan of salvation also seemed to start with a failure, involving the loss of His Son. It sounds like a ridiculous plan if you ask me, but He gave His Son’s life so that we might live.

We must renew our attitudes of ministries to operate out of sacrifice and the willingness to even surrender what is near and dear to us. If we are not willing to deny ourselves and just to die and be a channel where God’s power can come through, it’ll all be useless and meaningless to God.

You may also be interested in:
Remembering George Way Harley (1894-1966)
Book Summary: The Call To Joy And Pain: Embracing Suffering In Your Ministry (PDF)