IMB missionary never let anything keep her from sharing
    September 18 2015 by IMB Connecting

    Evelyn Harthcock never met a stranger. She was “mama” to many and her Southern drawl, hospitality and her deep love for people transcended language and culture.
     
    The 94-year-old emeritus International Mission Board (IMB) missionary died on Sept., 18, 2015, after a battle with Alzheimer’s. Although she officially retired from the IMB, she never “retired” as a missionary. Evelyn lived out her years ministering in Thailand until the day she died. Even in the midst of her illness, she sang hymn after hymn causing doctors and nurses to ask her husband, Gary, for the meaning behind such peaceful songs.
     
    The couple began their overseas adventures in 1985 after retiring from their jobs in North Carolina. They spent the next 40 years in six different countries – Antigua, Liberia, Mongolia, Guyana, Cambodia and Thailand – as gospel bearers, teachers, agriculture experts and authors. Evelyn transcended any barriers that existed by speaking the language of love.
     
    Phil Wardell* fondly remembered children running beside the Harthcock’s car as it pulled into the hospital compound where they ministered in Cambodia, yelling, “Jesus has arrived!”
     
    “They were literally Jesus to so many of these families with whom they reached out in love, sharing of their personal resources to assist with their needs,” Wardell said. “They were instrumental in leading many to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.”

     
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    Evelyn and Gary Harthcock

    The Harthcocks had no children of their own but they unofficially “adopted sons and daughters,” hailing from several countries, including Guatemala, Germany, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Liberia and the U.S. As many young adults chose to follow Christ, their families would abandon or persecute them as punishment. Evelyn not only discipled these young believers but loved them with a mother’s love.
     
    When Liu Yang Lhamo went through a trying time in her life, Evelyn was there for her “adoptive daughter.”  The couple exchanged daily emails with the young Tibetan, encouraging her to stand up and fight for life.
     
    “I love Gary and Evelyn, not only because they are my spiritual guide, but also because [of] the spirit in their heart, in their behavior,” Liu Yang said. “They would overcome every difficult[y] to serve God, no matter the bad weather, the misunderstanding [of] people, the disease they have at their old age.
     
    “Nothing could stop Gary and Evelyn to serve God, even at their age,” Liu Yang added.
     
    Prayer was a constant in Evelyn’s life. Pam Rusher, a former IMB worker in Mongolia and the Harthcock’s friend of 22 years, and Evelyn formed the “spoon-licking club” that consisted of the two women and their husbands. They met over breakfast to pray over the cold, Mongolian days and ready themselves for the day’s divine adventure.
     
    “Countless ones around the world are so blessed because you have remained faithful to the calling He placed upon you both and never considered retirement an option,” Rusher wrote in a memorial note for Evelyn. “Heaven will account for the lives that will offer a deeply grateful, ‘thanks for giving to the Lord – I am a life that was, is, will be changed.”’
     
    During her years of service in Cambodia, Evelyn invested time and energy into Buddhist monks. She became a mother figure to them as well. They loved her so much that they allowed her to touch them, despite the fact that culture dictated women could do no such thing.
     
    “Evelyn’s hugs and birthday cakes revealed His limitless love to some Buddhist monks that chose to de-robe and surrender their lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord,” Rusher said.
     
    The Harthcocks moved to Thailand in 1999 in their late ‘70s and continued ministering, writing books and English materials.
     
    John Duncan, a former pastor of the Harthcocks in Thailand, remembered Evelyn never missed an opportunity to give the “Easy English” language booklets they wrote that not only taught English but did it through the lens of the gospel.
     
    “That they had served for 40 years in missions, long past the point when others had retired and gone home, is a testimony to the ‘call of God to persevere,’” Duncan said before his own untimely death.
     
    Evelyn was born in Colerain, N.C., on Oct. 18, 1920 to Willie and Alma White. She studied early childhood education at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. She married Gary in 1946.
     
    She taught in public schools in North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio. She learned Braille and taught at the North Carolina School for the Blind, Raleigh, N.C. She also coordinated evening classes for pastors at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, Flat Rock, N.C.
     
    Together, the Harthcocks wrote 19 books and countless Bible lessons and tracts that have been translated into seven languages. A Southern Baptist dormitory for high school students in Chiang Mai, Thailand is named after the Harthcocks.
     
    Evelyn’s memorial service will be at Chiang Mai Ram hospital. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the International Mission Board and/or the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in her honor.
     
    She is survived by her husband, Gary, who lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand; one sister, Jean Finch, Raleigh, N.C.; three nieces, Debbie Mikeal, Raleigh, N.C., Jane Harthcock, Newton, Miss. and Patti Simmons, Foley, Ala.; one sister-in-law Lea Harthcock, Raymond, Miss.; two brothers-in-law, Thomas B. Harthcock Sr. and Thomas B. Harthcock Jr., both of Newton, Miss.; one nephew, Gary Harthcock, Vicksburg, Miss.; one great-nephew, Peter Mikeal, Austin, Texas; one foster daughter, Carmen Fitzsimons and her husband, Frank Fitzsimons III, Summerville, S.C., two foster granddaughters, Catherine Fitzsimons, Charleston, S.C.; Julie Crosby and her husband, Brian Crosby, Summerville, S.C.; and two foster great grandchildren, Catie Grace Crosby and Brian J. Crosby.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Carolyn Anderson, Ivy O’Neill and Susie Rain contributed to this article.)

    9/18/2015 1:07:17 PM by IMB Connecting | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Evelyn Harthcock, missionary, obituary




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