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“WHOLE” – SPIRITUALLY, MENTALLY, AND PHYSICALLY

Updated: Aug 22, 2021


At the start of this year, we, as a ministry team began to look at what it means to be “WHOLE“. “WHOLE” as in what does it look like to be healthy spiritually, mentally, and physically. As a team we were asked to individually fast from one thing that we knew God was tugging at our hearts to give up. We prayed together every Friday morning at 6:00 and we did Bible study together. All this combined was a game changer for me. I never dreamed that I could or would learn new things about myself that I had never before realized. The cracks and crevices of my heart were exposed during this process. I became vulnerable not only to my team but, most of all, to God. I was shown things that I never knew about myself--the good and the bad. I was able to really look at what it truly means to be “WHOLE”. Through this process I started asking God to show me one friend in my life who is “WHOLE”.


As I prayed over and over again, God kept revealing to me my friend Ritha from Haiti. I met Ritha at a school I formally worked with where she and her husband were both in leadership. After praying and hearing God’s vision for their lives, they ended up leaving. Even though it was difficult to leave coworkers and their steady income, they heard God’s voice, trusted, and followed.


The backstory of her life is totally different from my story. She had faced all kinds of adversities in her life from poverty, loss, disappointments, and obstacles that are unimaginable. But her faith was always unwavering. The strength God gave her through scriptures concerning her mind, body, and spirit were so evident in how she led her prayer and faith lives. I was drawn to her from the time I met her. As we would spend time in Haiti I would always ask her to share stories about her family, her life and her journey with Christ. Because Haiti was Haiti, we would always get interrupted. Finally, she was able to come to the United States and I got to spend a lot of time with her with no distractions. I remember driving her home from the airport and bombarding her with questions so I could learn more. I was so drawn to her joy and her strength in the Lord. I just always had to know more!


Ritha would share with me how they worshiped as a family. They spent all day each Sunday into Sunday evening communing at her church, having fun, eating and celebrating Christ. I mean all day! Plus, she listened for God’s voice. She began each day with Christ. They fasted and prayed and studied with great joy and anticipation to hear His answers. Sometimes they had to be patient as they waited through His silence.


What I learned from her is I want to be “WHOLE” like Ritha is “WHOLE”. I want that unwavering faith that she has. I want to see and hear God like she does. I asked her over and over again as she shared more stories about how she trusted God even when the people she loved suffered; even during the massive earthquake; even when many times in her life she would go hungry; even when she had no clean water or money; even when she lost her father tragically and had to flee with her siblings and her mother to a new area so they would be safe; even when she suffered infertility.


God did eventually bless Ritha and her husband with children in the most beautiful way. However, the most wonderful thing that I gathered from her was how, even though she and her husband had prayed and been called to the ministry three years before, they continued to listen to God for His perfect timing. They patiently prayed until He said it was time. The dream that God gave each one of them was to start a ministry--to disciple families, especially young women who have been in poverty and didn’t know Christ personally.


God opened doors to this indescribable and absolutely amazing ministry called “The Bridge”. They offer mental health counseling, school and vocational sponsorships for women who attend their Bible studies. They serve many women in their community and recently just started a Bible school in which children that can’t afford to go to school can come to their school and learn the Bible.


The Bible passage God gave Ritha when her father unexpectedly died is Isaiah 43:18-19. Even though she has lived through much tragedy and many hardships, these are her life verses:


“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”


Wow! This is what it looks like to be “WHOLE” in Christ. Ritha has to be strong physically, mentally and spiritually in order to fulfill Christ’s mission in her life. Meet my friend Ritha at the “WHOLE” Conference at Rusted Route in Jackson, MO on September 11. She will be there with more information about The Bridge along with Hannah Stucker, an American who cofounded this ministry two years ago.



 




Becky Sides-Harding met her husband, John Harding, at the University of Missouri where they both graduated and have been married for 28 years. They have three children Caroline, JD and Kate, and recently became grandparents. Becky co-owns Area Properties Real Estate - River Region, which currently partners with two local foster nonprofits. She has served in many different capacities at the United Methodist church, and is passionate about third world missions, particularly in Haiti.

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