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Hardison Baptist Church, Byron, Georgia
T he first time I went there, I was a shy young woman just out of college.

It was a white framed church in the beautiful countryside of middle
Georgia. I had to calm myself before entering the door. My mind was
full of questions. “What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t accept me?”
Recently, Pastor Lance Buckless and members of
Hardison Baptist Church honored us for being
missionaries for fifty years. The special service,
the gifts, the flowers, the love offering, and the
wonderful lunch with family and friends made it a
memorable day for us. We were humbled by their
expressions of love, but we felt that they were the
When we became missionaries, they became our
ones who should be honored.

“sending church” and they were
everything a “sending church”
should be. Few people, other than
missionaries and their children,
truly understand the depth of the
words Home Church.

After all, I was going to marry their “fair-haired
preacher boy” who had been ordained in that very
church. “What if they thought I was not a suitable
wife for him?” Before the service was over, my fears
were relieved. They had taken me into their hearts
and claimed me as their own.

Home Church means that wherever
in the world the missionary is, he
has a spiritual home and a sense
of belonging. It means people who
love and pray for you. It means
people who support you financially
because they believe in you and the
ministry you are doing. It means
having a pastor that you can call at
anytime from anywhere. It means
that missionary children know
that they have spiritual roots in
America. 16

The pastor and many of the
dear believers who were in
our Commissioning Service
fifty years ago are now with
the Lord. Pastors have come
and gone throughout all
the years, but every pastor
has demonstrated the same
passion for missions and,
consequently, the church has
kept its love for missions and
missionaries. The following article was
written by our son, Jim,
who grew up in Australia
and England. He and our
daughter, Joy, as Missionary
Kids always knew where their spiritual roots were.

Above: James, Mary, Joy, & Jim leaving
Macon, Georgia, for Australia in February 1970
Dear Pastor Buckless and Hardison Family:
Thank you so much for honoring my dad and
mom this coming Sunday. I’m so sorry that I will
be traveling next week and not able to attend,
although I believe my sister, Joy, will be there. I’ve
attached a little story I wrote about Hardison’s
connection to my parent’s ministry. Perhaps it
will be a blessing.

Jim Ray
AN MK Remembers…
I saw it, the first time, when I wasn’t even tall enough to
reach the drawer. In my parents’ bedroom in Australia,
where I wasn’t supposed to be without asking. I
maneuvered a chair over, hopped up, and slid it open.

I don’t know what you would call it officially. I called it
the tie tack drawer.

D ad had a lot of tie tacks. He had a lot of ties.

Always wore a tie. In almost every situation. He
was never going to be caught out anywhere dressed
less professionally than anyone else. One time, he was
deathly ill in the middle of the night and an ambulance
was called to take him to the hospital. Before it arrived,