Blessed to Be a Blessing

Blessed to Be a Blessing

Oil well

F. Irwin Harris and his wife Arlita experienced God's blessing in many ways, one of which was their introduction at Friendship Church of the Nazarene in Stuart, Oklahoma. Arlita tells the story with fond remembrance: "The pastor (Rev. Dan Mappus) was a long-time friend of mine; Irwin was a greeter and said that God told him, 'There goes your wife,' as I walked away to go to Sunday School." As it turned out, Rev. Mappus performed the wedding of Irwin and Arlita on June 1, 2005!

From pastoring to working as a businessman and rancher, Irwin was blessed with many successes in his professional life. He pastored for seventeen years, worked as a sales manager for thirteen years, and worked as a rancher for fifteen years. He also served for five years as Director of Endowment at Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University). Irwin displayed his commitment to Nazarene higher education through the establishment of the F. Irwin Harris Ministerial Scholarship Endowment at Southern Nazarene University. This endowment provides tuition scholarships to students who are preparing for full-time ministry in the Church of the Nazarene.

Irwin also established the Rev. O. O. Mills Memorial Scholarship to honor his father-in-law, and Arlita established the A. M. Hills Library Development Restricted Fund Scholarship for Southern Nazarene University students, staff, faculty, and alumni desiring to obtain a master's degree in Library Science from an ALA-Accredited Library School.

Arlita commented, "When Irwin and I married in 2005, a gas well was being dug on his ranch. He felt like the gas was put there by God—that he hadn't done anything to earn it. So, in 2006 we gave the royalties to the Church of the Nazarene Foundation. He received a monthly check which he used to help college students go on mission trips and get their educations. When he died, the remainder went to Southern Nazarene University to help theology students with financial needs. I know Irwin was smiling, knowing that his wish was fulfilled."

Arlita also notes, "It was important to Irwin to 'pay it forward.' He was especially grateful to B. M. Hall, who was Business Manager to Bethany Peniel (now Southern Nazarene University) when Irwin was a student. The Hall family invited Irwin to lunch on Sundays; B.M. helped him find jobs so he could pay his college bills." Hall was honored by Irwin (posthumously) at the 2015 SNU Homecoming Recognition of the Hall of Witnesses.

Arlita considers Irwin's legacy to be "helping others in ministry and missions so they can accomplish what God wants them to be and do." Arlita has enjoyed a successful career as a librarian and in teaching library science. She considers her legacy to be making a difference in the lives of others, especially those she can mentor.

Throughout their lives, this couple has exemplified the saying "blessed to be a blessing."