Evelyn Harp spent her whole life trying to be good enough.
“I worked myself to death trying to get to heaven,” Harp said. “I could not read my Bible enough, pray enough, do enough to make sure. I felt unloved by God and people. My self-worth was like a clod of dirt on our farm. Nothing at all. I just could not be good enough.”
Harp grew up on a farm where hard work was part of everyday life. Her mother left the family when Harp was 8 years old. Her well-intentioned, perfectionist father cared for her, but his philosophy was children should be seen and not heard. That created worry and anxiety.
Church and school were Harp’s only world outside the farm. She was there whenever the doors were open, but service after service gave little comfort.
“All I ever heard was do this and don’t do that,” said Harp, 77. “Very little about the love and grace of God.”
In time, Harp married a farmer named George. Together, they raise cattle and grow and bale alfalfa hay for horses—some 3,000 bales a season. Hard work mixed with anxiety describe Harp’s life through the years.
By 2016, Harp knew that her doubt about God and heaven had to be settled once and for all. She was 72, still working the farm, but all too aware that this life doesn’t last forever. She visited the Crestwood Campus of Southeast Christian Church, praying before walking into the service that she’d find answers to lifelong doubt.
“I felt at peace the very minute I walked into the campus,” Harp said. “So my journey began as I went to worship services and Bible studies. I began to see that God does love me. It isn’t something I have to earn. I was not happy when most everything shut down due to COVID-19. We’d been waiting two years to get high-speed Internet on our farm. It was installed two days before we stopped meeting for church due to COVID. That meant we could watch Southeast Online. That helped us get through the pandemic.”
Every Sunday, Harp and her husband dressed for church as usual, got communion ready, shut off their cellphones and worshiped with thousands of others watching SE Online.
“In 2020, I began to realize who I am in Christ,” Harp said. “I learned that God chose me, a little farm girl whose mother walked out on her at the age of 8. God adopted me so I could spend eternity with Him. He says I am holy, even though I don’t feel it. He says I’m forgiven and free. And God says I am loved. That was most important for me.”
Harp searched YouTube for more of Senior Pastor Kyle Idleman’s sermons online—especially a series on anxiety. And she began to see that what she’d heard about God as a child was not true. He was more than she imagined. His love for her is deep and strong.
New faith and understanding carried Harp when her son died of sepsis after an accident last March.
“I just know that we live in a fallen world, and we will have trouble,” Harp said. “But I know that God loves us, is always with us and has made a way for us to spend eternity with Him.”