Jim and Pat Harris are the founders of Relevant Expeditions
They’ve been married since 1983 and have four children and 12 grandchildren. Pat is from Houston, Texas and Jim grew up on a farm in Waverly, MO. In the mid 90’s they planted and pastored a church in Carrollton, Missouri. In January of 1999 they moved to St. Louis, Missouri to prepare to move into full time mission work.
St. Louis is the American base for Relevant Expeditions and is where most of the Harris family re- sides. Early in 2005 Jim and Pat officially founded Relevant Expeditions as an evangelical and humanitarian global mission work. Initially they targeted Banda Ache, Indonesia in the wake of the tsunami of 2004. Relevant Expeditions responded with humanitarian and evangelical outreaches to the devastated survivors of the region. Since then Relevant Expeditions has been sharing the Good News and bringing humanitarian aid to people in many parts of Asia including India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia, Timor, Myanmar, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Viet- nam, China, and Indigenous Australia.
We are evangelical humanitarians,
Our Passion is Souls.
Our Vision is the world.
OUR MINISTRIES IN ASIA
- Disaster relief
- Children’s home
- Build homes
- Build toilet and sanitation
- Feeding programs
- Rice distribution for lepers
- Bible schools
- Drill wells
- Pre schools
- Leadership development
- Church planting
Jim & Pat have been married since 1984. Pat is from Texas and Jim is from Missouri. Jim heard God calling him to the mission fields of Asia in April of 1972. He attended bible school at William Jewel College and began to pastor 2 rural churches in central Missouri. Although Jim had an encounter with God, he still didn’t really have a relationship with Him. Jim was pursuing God from a “religious” mindset which left him empty.
In 1978 through a series of life altering situations Jim turned his back on religion, and began to run from God. He entered a decade of rebellion brought on by shame, the humiliation of a divorce, loosing custody of his first two sons in the divorce and his mother dying at a very young age of 52. He entered a second marriage, and had another son, yet Jim’s rebellion from God, brought about the same results to that marriage as the first.
In 1982 he met a woman who was coming out of her own time of struggles. Pat had only a few weeks earlier been released from the hospital following a plane crash that claimed the life of her husband. In the plane crash she was stuck on a mountain for 6 days in freezing conditions. Along with others in the crumpled fuselage Pat read the bible to keep their hopes up for a rescue.
There is a Reason
When help finally arrived, Pat knew that God had saved her for a reason and that she obviously had more to do in this life. She and Jim were married in 1984, and their daughter Jamie was born the next year. Although Jim & Pat were moving in a better direction in life, Jim’s rebellion from God would continue for several more years.
In April of 1988 Jim had a powerful encounter with the Lord that began a transformation and healing in his life. This experience helped Jim to understand that he had only known Jesus through a “form of religion” but not a relationship. He was finally experiencing the reality and relevance of God. In 1993 Jim finally answered the mission call he received from God in 1972, by making his first trip to India.
For a month straight he traveled and lived like an Indian; loosing 35lbs in 30 days. Upon returning to the states he went into a gas station and broke down into tears as he looked at the abundance of candy, and snacks available to us everyday. It was culture shock in reverse. He had experienced the hunger and lack in some of the poorest places in the world, and now to be thrust back into a place of such abundant blessing was overwhelming. He knew that the calling from God was not for a single expedition but was his ultimate calling on Earth.
The next year Jim, Pat and their daughter Jamie traveled back to India for 35 days with a knowing that a full time move to Asia was in their future. Before they would move into missions full-time, they felt that God wanted them to gain further leadership experience. In 1995 doors opened for them to start and pastor a church in central Missouri. They were able to learn valuable lessons and understand the needs of leaders in ministry that would be a key part of their overseas ministry work. In January of 2000 they transitioned into world missions endeavors on a part-time basis, basing in St. Louis, MO. For 4 years they continued to pursue God, learning, and doing numerous short term mission trips each year.
In June 2004 Jim traveled to Kalimantan Borneo Island, Indonesia for a jam-packed 14 day expedition deep in the jungles preaching 21 times to groups of 300 and sometimes 2500 natives at a time. It was on this expedition that Jim heard from God that very soon the season of part-time mission work would be over and it would be time for him and Pat to move into full-time mission work in Asia.
Impossible, But God…
The circumstances of work, bills, family, business, and all of the other things that keep people from going to the mission field were haunting Jim. From Jim’s vantage point a full time move to Asia was impossible. It absolutely made no sense on paper. Where would the funding come from? Where would they live? How could they leave their children and grandchildren? For almost 5 years Jim and Pat had worked very hard for Jim to travel to Asia 4-5 times a year for a few weeks at a time. While a small group of close friends and family provided some of the funding for their short term mission expeditions, the majority of their funding was paid for by themselves.
Jim and Pat would work and save up enough to cover their next trip, exhausting their savings, their retirement, their inheritance and even selling off many of their belongings, including their house. As with any endeavor that people try to do on their own power, Jim and Pat grew weary of this life of constant struggle.
They came to a point where they cried out to God and said, “God, If YOU want us to be missionaries then WE WILL GO, we will leave the comforts of America, and we will even leave our friends and family, but we can not do it on our own, so you will have to provide. From now on we are no longer our provision, YOU will be our provision.”
Decisions and Connections
July of 2004 Pat and Jim declared that on January 1st Jim would quit his flooring business and devote 100% his time to raising the funding they would need to move to Asia by July 2005. This would be a difficult task because according to averages, it usually takes missionaries about two years to raise their initial funding.
About this same time Jim and Pat were sporadically attending Destiny Church of St. Louis. They were seeking a church that shared the same heart for world missions as they did. It was a large church, but their seemed to be a connection. Jim was amazed when the senior pastor of the church wanted to meet with him to discuss his heart for missions.
Jim recalls his meeting with Pastor Phil and Pastor Jim Stern in October of 2004, “I was not sure what they would think about our vision. I was thinking about how they were going to try and talk me out of it, or make me come back to reality. I told them that our plan was to walk away from a successful flooring business that I had built and move to Penang, Malaysia by the next summer. I waited for them to try and talk some sense into me, but on the contrary. The presence of God fell upon our meeting, and they were incredibly supportive. They said they knew that God would work it out and that they were on our team, that they believed it was God. We prayed together and although I was still skeptical as to if it was even possible, I was encouraged by their enthusiasm.”
For the first time, Jim and Pat felt as though they were under the wings of leadership that truly wanted them to succeed. It gave them a sense that they were no longer trying to fly alone, but rather they were part of a flock that was pulling for them to succeed. In this state of new found enthusiasm Jim was still terrified, “We were barely paying the bills as it was, how could we possibly quit working and expect to save money for the mission field…oh right we were depending on God…”