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With Open Eyes did not begin as a vision or plan to go make a great impact…

It was not birthed out of the foresight and planning process of great intellectual minds, or students of politics and power. With Open Eyes began with the life of one individual with an uncertain future, and a curiosity peaked by challenges to see and experience the unconventional. At 22 years of age, James Harrison left the comfort and ease of Charlotte, NC in search of himself. He was intrigued with the unknown, the dangerous, and risk. The invitation to join relief efforts in the war torn country of Sudan was enthusiastically accepted.

Within a short period of time after arriving in Lui, South Sudan, James began to discover the overwhelming needs of the human heart as he shared in the suffering and the tremendous loss experienced by the people there. As he traveled with local evangelists and pastors he visited hospitals, TB wards, burned out villages; he met sole survivors of brutal attacks, and experienced the overwhelming need for basic survival. Yet, in all of these circumstances his heart was encouraged and strengthened by the dedication of these pastors to take the Good News of the Gospel to their own people. Being birthed within his own heart was a commitment that moved him to respond in a tangible way.

Always in touch back home he shared the desperate situation of the people with passion and conviction.  James relayed his experiences and it was evident that his own heart was being stretched and strengthened while he challenged his family, and especially his father, Frank Harrison, Chairman and CEO of Coca Cola Consolidated, to “help these people.” James saw individuals in the crowd, the multitude, the village, and the church. His heart was moved by the way their faith in Jesus was providing strength and joy. He was one young man who glimpsed the eternal in the midst of sorrow and suffering. He was compelled to help empower these pastors to be effective in their work.

In 2008, the Mobile Messenger program was launched to provide motorcycles and other forms of transportation to accelerate sharing the message of God’s love and to deliver hope to remote areas hard to reach on foot. These pastors could now bring the Good News and practical  relief to those who were formerly beyond their reach.

From his initial trip to Sudan in 2005, James returned to Africa many times to serve alongside these godly men who had become respected friends and mentors in his life.  It was here the young man who initially left in search of adventure and challenge found a genuine sense of purpose in serving the poor and providing help to the needy.

On October 5, 2010, James Harrison died in Nairobi, Kenya. His many acts of kindness and selfless service continue to inspire many however his greatest gift, compassion that moves to action, will be carried on through With Open Eyes as they continue to accelerate the message of Jesus Christ  to the unreached and underserved peoples of the world.

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