Posted by: John Adams | August 21, 2008

Remembering Karen Harter, Mighty Woman of God

Karen Harter – mom to Ryan, one of my roommates at PBC – went to be with Jesus on Tuesday night after a battle with cancer that lasted several years. Ryan called and told me over the phone today.

Karen was a woman of tremendous faith that worked itself out through a lifestyle of love. She had a hug and a smile and an encouraging word for everyone she met. People who met her never dreamed that she was sick unless someone told them.

I first met Karen at Thanksgiving dinner in 2003. She welcomed me into her home as though I were her own son. Shortly after that time, she and her husband learned that she had cancer. Feeling led to plant a church in the Skagit Valley region of Washington, they went ahead with what God was telling them to do anyway. Prayers and petitions went up to the Lord for her at many a PBC prayer meeting, and she lived much longer than the original prognosis predicted. In the meantime, The Valley Church began to flourish, attracting burned-out and broken youth from the surrounding area, who came to the church and met Christ. Karen became a mother to them all.

Recently, Karen’s condition worsened and she had to be hospitalized. Even during this time, Ryan told me on the phone today, she was exhorting her visitors to smile, trust Jesus, and rejoice. In a hospital full of dour people awaiting their fates with gloom, Karen was a living witness of the presence and power of a Kingdom whose King has set His people free from the fear of death (Heb. 2:15). She died beautifully and powerfully on Tuesday night, in a manner that glorified God. Her death is the tolling of a bell that will cause the Gospel to ring loud and clear. Tonight, I rejoice in the triumph of Christ’s Gospel through the life of Karen Harter, a mighty woman of God whose presence on earth will be sorely missed.

Update: Ryan has also written a beautiful post about this over at his blog.



  1. Well said. Thank you for writing this. I’ll write a blog after her funeral on Saturday.

  2. What a touching tribute to Karen! I don’t know how I am going to make it through her memorial service!

  3. I’ve know Karen for about 5 years. I met her through her sister and my friend, Linda Stordahl. What a wonderful person she was. When you spoke with Karen you felt God’s love emanating from her. She was warm, witty, kind and a true child of the King. The last time I saw Karen was at her book signing a year ago. I’ve enjoyed her books, shared them with friends and continue to recommend them to new friends and family. I join with Karen’s family and friends in saying that this was one special lady who will be greatly missed by all. I can see her now sitting there in heaven reading Where Mercy Flows to all the other angels. I’ll meet Karen again some day and we’ll get sit together and share our favorite chapters of Autumn Blue.

    Goodbye my friend, God Speed.

    Brenda Burke

  4. So beautifully expressed, John. Precious Karen and Linda both touched my life as a kid. While God was the most important thing for us as kids, we also shared a great deal of laughter and playfulness. I’m thankful for Karen’s friendship. What a beautiful expression of God and humaness, all in one!

    You graduated and passed with flying colors!

    Love to you, Jeff and entire family. My heart is with you in the sadness and the rejoicing.

  5. I just learned of Karen’s death on Friday and although I had lost contact, I was deeply saddened to hear the news. Karen was as close as a person can get to being an angel on earth. And I am not certain she was not. Out of three daughters, I have one who has a very close relationship with God. Her Godmother is Karen Harter. Since I didn’t see much of Jeff and Karen after Andrea was baptized, I think maybe Karen Harter knew she had to work really fast and plant the seed of Jesus Christ into that little soul. I don’t know how she accomplished that, but with all my heart I believe that she did.
    I am happy, Karen, that you are reunited with Hailey.
    Karen Pursel

  6. Love you John. Thanks again for allowing us to show other people your blog. You have blessed my family with this post : )

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