Dan (’97) and Janell (’00) Hartley have a desire to transform lives. For the past 10 years, they have been sharing the gospel as missionaries in Southern Africa. During a recent trip to their alma mater, the couple brought their passion for the gospel to Dr. Karen Fancher’s Pressing Global Issues class.
“As alumni, our hearts are connected to Multnomah,” says Janell. “We hope that our stories — the chapters we have done well and the chapters we have learned from — will be a blessing and ignite a passion for doing missions.”
Youth ministry major Miguel Ruiz’s attention was undivided during their presentation. Hearing their stories and well-spoken wisdom unexpectedly awakened something in his heart. “My plan was to be a soccer coach, and now…” the freshman trails off, shaking his head and chuckling at his sudden change of heart. “I think God is putting me somewhere else.”
The Hartley’s vision and devotion acted as a catalyst within Ruiz — he now finds himself lying awake at night, thinking about his potential new path. Although he’s unsure of the future, he’s confident in God’s plan for his life. “It’s His will, not mine,” he says.
Making it clear that their work as missionaries isn’t always easy, the Hartleys were honest about past struggles with self-doubt and self-identity. “I needed to understand not just who I am in Christ, but whose I am,” says Dan.
It’s not by chance that past failures often hinder our mission and vision, especially when you’re working for the Lord. “We have a target on our backs, and that doesn’t go away just because we step into ministry,” he says.
But hardship can be overcome by choosing to rely on God for strength, not on ourselves. Janell advised students to come to the Lord with questions as a way to overcome self-reliance.
“When I wake up I pray, ‘Good morning, Lord. What do you want me to accomplish?’” she says. “Learn what his heart is.”
The students attentively soaked up their advice for navigating the ebb and flow of challenges that missionaries often encounter. In closing, the Hartleys offered a way to react to those challenges: “We stopped asking, ‘Why?’ and asked God, ‘What are you doing, and how can we be a part of it?’”
Visit the Hartleys’ website at www.magezi.org if you’d like information about their vision to share the gospel with unreached people groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. Contact Janell to request email updates or newsletters at firstname.lastname@example.org. Most importantly, remember to keep them in your prayers.