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Missions Award: Devotion down under in Australia

Kent Hartman’s “Missions Minute” closes a Chapel service at Oklahoma Christian every week.

Kent, a 1977 Oklahoma Christian graduate, informs the student body about the role and influence of OC students in mission points around the world.

It’s a continuation of a love of missions nurtured at Oklahoma Christian years ago.

It began in 1974 when Kent and his brother Dale Hartman (74) went on a short-term mission trip to Sydney, Australia, with OC president James O. Baird.

That trip and love for missions inspired Dale and his wife Sheila (Dodgen 74), Kent and his wife Nancy (Price 77), Charlie (72) and Debbie (Kelly 73) Powell, and Tony (78) and Betty Keesee – seven of whom are OC alumni – to make mission work a big part of their lives.

Friendships and dreams that began at OC continued to develop through time in Memphis at Harding Graduate School.

The team went on to plant a church in Campbelltown, a suburb of Sydney, and to nurture the existing congregations in the area.

The team members had various stints in Australia between 1979 to 2000, combining for 42 years of mission work there.

The love of missions that began at OC is still active nearly four decades later.

Kent and Nancy help with the Helpers in Missions program at OC. They are also part of InterMission, a group of former missionaries doing missionary care.

Each year, InterMission helps organize Global Reunion, a camp at Oklahoma Christian that helps “Third-Culture Kids” and their parents find their voice and acclimate to American culture.

The team members have spoken at World Mission Workshops, and Dale, Charlie and Tony continue to advocate missions in their work at Oklahoma congregations.

The families have made many trips back to Australia to visit friends, conduct lectureships, strengthen churches, and encourage the Christian population there.

All 12 children of the original Australia mission team attended Oklahoma Christian (listed with parents): Kent and Nancy – Heidi (Hartman 02) Picker, Heath Hartman, and Hayli Hartman (07); Dale and Sheila – Luke Hartman (01), Heather (Hartman 03) Roberts, and Annaleise (Hartman) Mitchell; Charlie and Debbie – Travis Powell (03), Austin Powell (06), Jordan Powell (10), and Melody (Powell 11) Jones; Tony and Betty – Kayla (Keesee 07) Tindle and Kyle Keesee.

Heidi’s husband Adam Picker (03), Luke’s wife Kate (Millican 01), Heather’s husband David Roberts, Annaleise’s husband Michael Mitchell (04), Travis’ wife Kiala (Snider 07), Melody’s husband Ryan Jones (09), and Kayla’s husband Tracy Tindle (09) also graduated from Oklahoma Christian.

The next generation is continuing the “family business:” Adam and Heidi were HIM workers in New Zealand; Kayla has worked with missions in Japan and China; Hayli has worked with an orphanage in Africa; Austin and Jordan are teaching English in Japan; and Travis is a chiropractor in Wollongong, Australia, and helps with the church there.

Beyond the families, dozens of OC students have experienced Australia through mission trips led by the Hartmans, Powells and Keesees.

The original team members still gather in January to celebrate Australia Day, share Australian food and songs, and remember the time spent on the field.

Just as it would have been difficult to predict the influence of that early OC mission trip with President Baird, it is equally difficult to measure these families’ continued influence on OC, its students, and the church in Australia.

By Luke Hartman (01)