Alumni Spotlight: Harper Severance Class of 2012
Who could have known when Harper started at Jupiter Christian as a kindergartner, the amazing plans God had for her life?
On a JCS high school Minimester mission trip to the Dominican Republic, Harper first realized the call God would place on her heart. From that experience, she knew that He had plans for her to serve full-time on the mission field, volunteering, or working with a non-profit. From that first trip to many others she would take with JCS, the people she had the opportunity to serve with during her high school years encouraged and supported her along her path to becoming a missionary. “It was a great starting place for me to experience the mission field and picture it as my future,” she shares.
Harper says her inspiration came from the many great role models and mentors in her life. “They saw the calling that God placed on my heart and encouraged me to act upon it with everything I have!” Her teachers at JCS made a huge impact on her life and continue to do so still today. Harper loved being taught in a Christian environment where the foundation of her relationship with Christ began through chapel services, Bible studies, and Biblical teaching every day in the classrooms.
“The relationships I made while a student at JCS are irreplaceable. My fellow students and the faculty and staff there helped me through some very dark times in my life,” Harper says. “It was their encouragement, prayers, support, and love that kept me going.”
While attending a JCS Christian College Fair one year, Harper learned about Milligan College in Tennessee and applied to this private Christian university.Following graduation from JCS in 2012,she headed off to Milligan and in 2016 received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Photography and Digital Media. With the calling to serve as a missionary at the forefront of her plans, she moved to Dallas, Texas for almost a year to gain experience and financial support to allow her to start her journey to the mission field in April 2017.
Today, supported by Living Oaks Church in Palm Beach Gardens, under Pastors Larry and Janet Richardson, Harper serves as Assistant Child Sponsorship Coordinator at Casa Shalom Orphanage in Guatemala. For the sponsorship program, she translates the letters between children and their sponsors in the United States, acting as their source of communication. In her position, she ensures that all the funds are going through each month for the sponsorships, and assists with sponsorship program outings such as birthday lunches as well as Sponsor Week, where sponsors are encouraged to come and spend time with the child they are supporting.
Harper recently shared a glimpse into a day in the life of a full-time missionary. “Mornings are spent in the office taking care of emails, letter translations, and checking on finances. In the afternoons, I serve in my role as assistant to the director of We Help Children. This ministry is aimed at teaching the native Guatemalans how to raise their kids, host children’s ministry events, and lead their community with their own skills and talents, not dependent on American leadership or finances,” Harper says. “This is to either prevent the children from going into an orphanage setting, or to check up on them after they leave the orphanage. We travel to local villages, schools, hospitals, and other orphanages, either training the new leaders, or hosting ministry for the kids in attendance. “
Serving far away in Guatemala, homesickness is a real struggle for Harper some days. She misses Jupiter, the community that supports and encourages her, and the simplicity of just being able to go have a meal with a friend who understands what she left behind to go onto the mission field. But for Harper, the rewards of her work outweigh the challenges she faces.“It is such a great feeling getting to see a child when he or she enters the orphanage and the transformation they make in a matter of a few weeks, just from feeling loved and cared for,” she says. “Being able to make a difference in the life of a child is the biggest reward of them all.”
As an alumni, Harper maintains her connection with Jupiter Christian and recently visited as a guest speaker during chapel on the West Campus, where she spoke about her experiences in the mission field with students. She also shares some advice for current seniors who will graduate JCS in May.
“The end of senior year can be a time of confusion, chaos, and the unknown. If you’re not decided on a “career” yet, don’t stress about it,” Harper shares. “You’ve got time to try things out. Take the next few months before graduation to gain experience and learn from someone who is currently working in the position you hope to be in someday.” She goes on to say, “Whatever position you find yourself in now,know that God has a plan set for you that you might have never thought about. Be open to anything and everything!”
What is the best way to support Harper’s work in Guatemala? “Through prayer!”she says. “I ask my family, friends, and the Jupiter Christian community to pray for health, safety, and strength for me to continue serving in Guatemala, for the kids, the orphanages, and the communities that I have the privilege to work with, and for my support team, because I am only in Guatemala with the help of the giving hearts of others.”
Harper looks forward to continuing to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus in Guatemala and says, “My future plan is to stay on the mission field, until God tells me otherwise!” Her heart for missions, love for the Lord, and dedication to the children she serves are truly an inspiration to us all.
Alumni Spotlight: Harper Severance Class of 2012