Hunter’s Huge Heart by Travis Sharpe

So many people have commented on our children and their service during our recent stay in the Philippines that I thought I would write about some of their specific activities.

Hunter and Sarah are just like any other kids. They get in trouble pretty often and they have to be punished. They like to play and they don’t care too awful much for school. Sometimes they fuss about doing their chores.

But they are also a little different. They are missionary kids and they spend a lot of time working in the ministry and serving others. Hunter is 14 and Sarah is 11. I would venture to say that they have seen and experienced many things in their childhood that many adults may never encounter.

Here’s a little about Hunter.

When Hunter was two months old, he spent almost every night with his mother and I at Garden City Rescue Mission in Augusta, GA. We had just started the Mission and now we had our first child. My wife April turned an old office into a bedroom, complete with a crib and all. Hunter has interacted with homeless people since he was old enough to crawl.

By the time he was four or five years old he thought that he owned the place. He would come down in the afternoon after school and help me work. One time he answered the phone at the front desk and it was a man asking if we had room in the shelter. Hunter informed the gentleman that there was plenty of room but he couldn’t be drinking and he would give him a breathalyzer test before he let him in for the night!

IMG_3701

As Hunter grew a little older he began to venture from the Mission and follow me into homeless camps, under bridges, inside of abandoned buildings and just about anywhere else you can think of in search of people to help. He has seen everything from drunken men to screaming women. At a young age he began to see first hand the destruction that alcohol and drugs can bring into a persons life.

DSCN1104

All of those experiences have given him a keen sense of awareness and an unusual ability to interact with adults. He has been know to mesmerize adults as they watch him in action and listen to him talk about Christ to grown men who are broken and addicted.

The first person that Hunter led to the Lord was a 50 year man named Richard. We were under a bridge in Birmingham, AL and Hunter testified before I preached. When I gave the invitation, Richard came to Hunter and said “I want what you and your dad have”. Instead of looking for an adult, Hunter knelt with him right there, took his Bible and shared the gospel with him.

296430_247381638646190_887783011_n

In 2013, Hunter went on his first mission trip out of the country. It was with his Aunt Pam and Uncle Mark to the Central American Country of Honduras. This was his first time to interact with people in a completely different country who spoke a completely differently language.

But he fit in just fine. Hunter has always been “big for his age” and the kids in Honduras loved to play with him because he could throw them up in the air as good as most adults could. On that trip he helped with VBS and also helped install a water purification system.

IMG_0805

Today, Hunter is active in every aspect of our ministry. His first trip to the Philippines was in January of 2014. That was the trip that we made in response to Typhoon Yolanda. During that trip Hunter participated in many different areas but he found his niche helping the nurses in the medical missions clinic. He served tirelessly with his momma that trip.

IMG_1100

Our most recent trip to the Philippines was different from every other trip because we actually lived there in our own house that we rented for five months. It stopped feeling like “mission trip” after about the first month. It was our life, day in and day out.

It took us all a month or so to adjust to life there but before long Hunter was in his groove and doing his thing very well. One of the biggest things he did was help in Children’s church every Sunday. He taught lessons, led songs, corralled straying children and whatever else was needed.

Hunter also participated in the meal centers each Saturday. We started this the very first week were arrived and did it every single Saturday for five months with only a couple of exceptions when we traveled to another town. At the meal centers he served, played, led songs and taught lessons.


IMG_0692

Hunter has been preaching for a few years now. He started as a five year old on the steps of the church after an evening service. That faded away and then, a few years back, he felt the Lord truly calling him into ministry. He takes his preaching and service for the Lord very seriously.

Pastor Antonio Ner invited him to speak at the church service one evening before we left to come home and the Lord blessed him with a great message.

IMG_5394

In April, Pastor Todd Crusenberry brought the GPA medical missions team to our area and once again Hunter joined forces with them and served alongside the doctors and nurses the entire time. He even preached at one of the daytime services before everything got started. Again, he enjoyed helping the doctors and nurses.

 

IMG_5146

 

Hunter joined us many mornings out on the streets as we sought out the homeless and hurting. One of my favorite memories is the day I watched him sit down beside a young boy and share his faith with him. He was so passionate and caring that it brought tears to my eyes.

DSCN0375

 

In conclusion

There are a lot of other things that he was involved in while we were there that I don’t have time to mention here. Like how he shared his room for a week with two boys we found sleeping on the streets or how he spent the night at the hospital with Ted, the doctor who got sick during the medical mission.

I could also tell you how he carried water jugs for three months until we found out that they delivered them or how he helped to lead the entire VBS because April was sick.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that my boy is far from perfect but I am super proud of him for the huge heart that he has and how he participates with his family and makes a difference in people’s lives as a result. I’m a proud dad.

Next week I’ll share some of Sarah’s hard work with you!