For most teens, summer is a time to take a break from school, make some serious cash working all of the extra hours you can, and traveling with family and friends.
Seventeen-year-old Sarah Harmening had kicked off her summer with a short-term mission trip to Botswana, Africa, last week. On their way to the Atlanta airport, the Mt. Zion Baptist Church bus carrying 40 students and chaperones was involved in a terrible collision.
Moments before the crash, Sarah had been wrestling with some feelings of discontentment.
“I was just sitting here on the bus, feeling a little sad. I guess because I’m going to be gone so long and I was a little uncomfortable,” she wrote in her journal.
That’s when she decided to read her Bible. We know that God speaks to us through His word. But for a 17-year-old to turn to her Bible when her thoughts and feelings weren’t that of the Lord is truly admirable. It just shows the strength of her faith and relationship with God.
Just like that, Sarah’s perspective changed.
“Pretty much everything I read applies to me now. It talked about watching over the flock entrusted to you, which would be my little buddies in Botswana, humbling yourself which I will need to do (and that also means being a little uncomfortable), it talked about the devil prowling about like a lion seeking whom he may devour, which he will especially be doing on this mission trip, and how we need to be alert and of sober mind, and lastly, how we get to participate in his divine nature!”
“I mean, how awesome is that? So mostly, I was just reminded of why I’m here and that God has called me here and he’s done so for a reason. So I know he’s going to do incredible things.”
Sarah’s was the only life claimed in the violent crash on June 8. She never made it to Botswana, but God is STILL doing incredible things through her faith and the short but beautiful life she lived.
The teen’s journal entry is just a glimpse into the inspiring relationship she had with the Lord. Sarah’s final message has provided comfort to her grieving parents, family and friends, who know she was with God before her last breath.
Prior to the crash, and seemingly after writing her journal entry, Sarah also sent a beautiful and prophetic text message to some friends and family:
“We are like a wisp of smoke. We are only here for a moment and it’s not about us. Life is not about us. It’s about God, who is eternal, so I want to dedicate the one moment I’m here completely and entirely to him.”
What a beautiful soul, to have such mature faith at an age when most kids are trying to navigate what to do with their lives and where their hope comes from.
In a press conference following the tragic accident, Sarah’s parents read her final journal entry and spoke on her behalf:
“We asked to have the opportunity to speak because our daughter Sarah was a gift that was given on December 20th, 1999,” Sarah’s mom, Karen said, holding back tears as she addressed the press. “And she loved the Lord with a love that tangible. And I know you guys in the media don’t like to hear a lot about that, but I hope you’ll listen to it, because it’s what she lived and breathed for.”
Sarah left behind her loving parents, and three sisters, Katelyn, Kristen and Sophie.
Our prayers are with Sarah’s family, friends and the Mt. Zion Baptist Church community during this unthinkable time.
There is no doubt in my mind that God has used Sarah for His glory, far beyond her final breath. She is a daughter of the Most-High, with a faith and love for the Lord that is inspiring. May we all be reminded of Sarah’s faith today. To seek Him first, be selfless in our pursuit, and wholeheartedly chase after God.