Dave believes that Missions is the heartbeat of God. While pastor at Eastland, he was able to visit missionaries in thirty foreign countries and speak about missions throughout the United States.
The experience in developing a distinctive missions program, coupled with the opportunities to visit missionaries all over the world, provided him with rich experiences and wisdom, which create dynamic missions conferences. Conferences are generally held Wednesday through Sunday with an expository preaching format.
In addition to nightly messages, a tea for the ladies, breakfast for the men, banquets on Saturday night, or special themes can be incorporated into the conferences. The Hardys would be happy to share the ideas gleaned over their years of experience with Faith Promise Conferences at Eastland.
Dave's desire has always been to be a man of the Book, not just a man with the Book. His goal has been to speak where God speaks and remain silent where God remains silent. His preaching is relevant and practical. He connects the meaning of Scripture to the mind of the hearers by answering their unspoken question, "What difference does this make to me?"
Bible conferences may be based on the study of one book or on specific topics such as discipline, finances, authority, or eternal security. Depending on the objective of the meeting, pastors may desire a one-day conference, a weekend conference, or a Sunday-through-Wednesday conference.
No other single Scripture has resounded from the Eastland pulpit more than III John 4: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Dave has continuously challenged parents not to settle for raising their children to be merely good, but to raise a godly seed who would become choice servants for the Lord to use.
He has developed messages and lessons that move moms and dads to become the best possible scriptural role models possible in the family. His lessons are drawn from experiences with his own children and grandchildren, foster children, teens who have temporarily called his house home, and many parents who have shared their experiences with him.
Dave and Grace can provide assistance in developing and speaking at retreats for men or women. The retreats may or may not be in conjunction with family conferences. Grace developed the Annual Green Country Christian Ladies Retreat in Tulsa, which Eastland has hosted for twenty years, ministering to approximately 1,000 women per year. The Hardys' son, Wayne, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma, hosts an annual Men's Advance.
Dave is open to meet any need that arises, whether it is a week-long series of meetings or a Sunday pulpit supply. If he and Grace are in the area, they would be happy to fill in during vacations, illness, or just to give a pastor a rest from preaching.
Dave was saved at age fourteen in a small Independent Baptist church in Arlington, Texas, under the preaching of Pastor Bud Arrant. After high school, he served aboard the submarine USS Sennet (SS408) for four years. During this time, he married Grace Wilkinson, and their son, Wayne, was born. They were active in Hanahan Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina, under Pastor Hobson Wolfe. Dave held services on the Sennet while at sea, and God used that time and experience to call him into full-time ministry.
After being discharged, the Hardys returned to Arlington for a year where Dave attended Arlington Baptist College. They moved to Springfield, Missouri, in 1967, where he attended and graduated from Baptist Bible College. After working on the staff at Seminole Baptist Temple for three years under Pastor Raymon Tracy, he accepted the call to become pastor of Eastland Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Consistent growth from 55 to 600 in attendance reflects a lively, thriving ministry.
It was Dave’s desire to build a church that was pleasing to God: one that recognized God’s primary attribute of holiness and worshipped Him in spirit and truth; one that was conservative in theology and practice; and one that was sanctified. Eastland has been marked as a church that is friendly and accepting and which carries solid Biblical truths into the community and world.
While at Eastland, Dave was able to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Doctor of Ministry from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has served as adjunct professor at Baptist Bible College in Springfield and also as trustee for two three-year terms. Additional opportunities have included nine years as a Mission Field Representative and two terms as First Vice President to the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. Beginning in 1998, Dave served as professor of homiletics and/or practical theology at Heartland Baptist Bible College in Oklahoma City, and served as interim Executive Vice-President of the college for one year.
Dave and Grace were married in 1962 and have one son, Wayne, who pastors Bible Baptist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and one Japanese daughter, Ai Burgett, who lived with them for thirteen years before marrying Matt Burgett. Wayne and his wife, Lisa, have been blessed with three children.
Grace Wilkinson’s early childhood lacked the stability and security of a home with loving parents. She spent several years living with and being raised by her grandparents, the most stable people in her young life. At the age of eleven, events began taking place that would change her life forever.
The first line of James Mountain’s hymn, “I Am His and He Is Mine,” became very real to eleven-year-old Grace when she trusted Christ as her personal Savior in Meridian, Mississippi.
Loved with everlasting love, Led by grace that love to know. Spirit breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
She later returned to her parents’ home, and they moved to Texas where she met a boy named Dave, who sometimes came to play with her stepbrothers in their backyard. Dave and Grace attended the same church. They began dating when she was sixteen and, soon after, Dave joined the Navy. After his return home on leave from boot camp, Grace Wilkinson became Mrs. Dave Hardy.
After Dave was released from the Navy, he, Grace, and their three-year-old son, Wayne, returned to Arlington where they bought their first home. For the first time in her life, Grace enjoyed the security of a permanent home. When they were called into the ministry a short time later, however, Grace willingly gave up that stability to move to Springfield, Missouri, to begin attending Baptist Bible College. Though it was initially a time of struggle to leave her home and friends, she had learned that her security was in the Lord and not in her house or any other thing she possessed.
She surrendered to that call to serve with Dave in ministry. She served with Dave as college/career directors in Springfield, Missouri, for three years and she served along with Dave at Eastland Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for thirty years. Her philosophy of ministry came together when God showed her that “part of my responsibility was to teach and train the ladies to be laborers with me together with God. My job was to teach them to use their gifts and abilities to minister to others.” Grace has exhibited this in the Missions Intern Program at Eastland, mentoring the mission intern wives. She taught a monthly class at Eastland called “Girls with Grace,” in which young women of the church were equipped for ministry and has also taught occasional classes at Heartland Baptist Bible College. Grace is a popular speaker at women’s meetings across the nation. Her counsel is highly prized and regularly sought after.
One of her most extraordinary contributions has been her establishment and direction of the Annual Green Country Christian Ladies’ Retreat. Each year, she, along with the Eastland family, hosted over a thousand ladies who came for a time of spiritual refreshment. It has provided a myriad of opportunities for spiritual development of the families at Eastland, as well as has had impact on the ministry and effectiveness of churches across the nation.
Grace has been the ideal example of a helpmeet to her husband. She has complemented him with a “can-do” attitude and an open home, showing hospitality to hundreds of guests, making each visitor feel comfortable and special. Having a great burden for missionaries and ministry families has made her a willing and ready companion on missions trips and in traveling to her husband’s speaking engagements.
Reflecting on her ministry of over thirty years with her husband, Grace’s emphasis is on the goodness of God in leading her through a difficult childhood, in bringing her to salvation at an early age, in His choice of a husband, in allowing her to be a ministry wife, and in giving her “the most wonderful life I believe I could have ever had.”