Growing up on my family’s small farm in this area, I never imagined what God had in store for my life. In 1964, I founded Ozark National Life Insurance Company, which quickly grew to be one of the region’s leading insurance companies. The success of Ozark is, in itself, a testimony to God’s faithfulness. Through it, we founded Heartland with a vision for meeting the needs of northeast Missouri and regions beyond. It is a community where people can experience restoration through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Heartland is dedicated to helping people with broken lives experience peace through Christ, develop a good work ethic, and live victoriously in every area of life.
In the Scriptures, Psalm 107 is a perfect picture of Heartland. The psalmist describes people in all kinds of desperate situations. They cried out to the Lord, and He saved them. Not only did He save them, but He guided them to a safe haven—to a city where they could live and raise their families. That city is not just Heartland, of course. It is the Church of the Living God—the true City of Refuge.
Those who make Heartland their home have found a refuge from many kinds of needs in their lives. The psalmist describes us in several categories: Those who wandered in the wilderness, hungry and thirsty, with fainting souls. Those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death. Prisoners in misery and chains because of our rebellion. Those who were fools in their rebellious ways, abhorring even food to eat. Those who went down to the sea in great ships to do business and were caught in terrifying storms.
We all fit somewhere in those descriptions. And we all have this in common—when we called out to God in our distress, He rescued us. It is good to reflect on Psalm 107 and find hope in its words. When we see again what God has done for us, the psalmist tells us what our response should be… Give thanks to the Lord for His loving kindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!
Founder and Pastor
Charlie Sharpe & his wife Laurie live on the Heartland campus near Bethel, Missouri.