Jim Hocking, executive director of Integrated Community Development International (ICDI), a cooperating ministry of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, shares this story from Kadena Air Base, Japan. Airman Jessica Tharp joined her uncle, Tim Harley, a member of the Grace Brethren Church in Wooster, Ohio, on a ministry trip to the Central African Republic last summer. A portion of the story appears below. Read the complete story here.
11/30/2012 – KADENA AIR BASE, Japan — Leave is something military members typically earn, with hard work, dedication and long hours. Those members usually use their precious time off to recharge their batteries and relax, not Airman 1st Class Jessica Tharp.
Tharp, an aerospace propulsion journeyman assigned to the 18th Component Maintenance Squadron at Kadena Air Base, traveled to Central African Republic with her uncle and her cousin determined to make a difference.
Although this was Tharp’s first journey to the Dark Continent to join the humanitarian mission, her uncle, Tim Harley from Wooster, Ohio, started visiting the country nine years ago. The trip would prove to be an eye-opening experience.
“For the first time, I got to see how other people outside of the (United States) and military live,” she explained. “Their lives are so much different (than ours) and their mentality (regarding) their day-to-day life and priorities are completely different than what we could imagine.”
What started out as a simple question to her uncle “Could I go with you one time?” quickly turned into the biggest adventure of a lifetime.
While she didn’t have the skills or experience to dig wells or build houses, she struggled with how best to help the villagers of Bangui. Nevertheless, Tharp was determined to make an impact.