By Tim Ellsworth
Contributing Writer, B&R
She began praying for her neighbors. But that was just the start.
“After approximately six or seven months of praying for them, I thought, ‘I want to do something where they know there’s somebody there for them,’ ” said Hufstedler, a member of Chapel Hill Baptist Church in Milan.
That, as well as some encouragement from her son, got Hufstedler more active in reaching out to her neighbors. She has since started writing them letters and sending them care packages, all in an attempt to take the gospel to those in need.
“We’re supposed to tell others about Jesus,” Hufstedler said. “Actually, this is a safe way to start because you’re not face-to-face with somebody yet.”
“Bless Every Home” is an evangelistic program of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. People who visit pray4TN.com can sign up to receive an e-mail with the names and addresses of neighbors for whom they can begin to pray.
The initiative provides sample prayers and Scripture verses as well and serves as a tool for Tennessee Baptists to keep track of their mission efforts right where they live, according to David Evans, evangelism director for the TBMB.
“When you put prayer, time and investment in people’s names, eventually it will drag your heart there too,” Evans said. “So, praying for lost people by name will eventually move your heart to start caring for those neighbors.”
That’s exactly what happened with Hufstedler. After praying for her neighbors for a few months, she decided to send out the “Jesus” movie DVD to them anonymously. Those who participate in “Bless Every Home” can get free copies of the movie for that specific purpose.
But then Hufstedler heard a sermon from her son Joey, pastor of Poplar Grove Baptist Church in Trenton, who encouraged Christians to be bold in sharing their faith. Hufstedler decided rather than send the movie anonymously, she would send it along with a letter introducing herself.
“I told all about myself,” Hufstedler said. “I told about my church, so people wouldn’t think I’m a crazy person. In the letter, I also gave them my phone number so they could actually text me any of their prayer requests.”
“I think it’s going to take two or three times before they think I’m serious,” she said.
She’s learned that it’s cheaper mailing items that can bend, so she’s making bookmarks that she’ll send out around Christmas. One side will share the Christmas story from Luke 2, and the other will include the Romans road to salvation. She plans to make similar bookmarks for next Easter.
She has also purchased journals that she’s planning to send to her neighbors, imprinted with a Bible verse on the front. In addition, Hufstedler has purchased utility LED lights with “He is not here; He is risen …” printed on them. She plans to hand deliver those to neighbors she meets when she’s out and about in the weeks ahead.
Hufstedler hopes that her efforts will result, initially, in her neighbors feeling comfortable enough to share prayer requests with her via text messages. She wants that to open doors for her to meet more of her neighbors and have in-depth gospel conversations with them.
Eventually, she’d like to start a neighborhood prayer group.
Starting somewhere is the important part, Hufstedler said, and the first step in obedience to God is taking the gospel to unbelievers. She’s grateful for the TBMB and its efforts in providing services like “Bless Every Home.”
“This way, I thought maybe it would be a way to meet my neighbors,” Hufstedler said. “I thought it would be a great way to reach out.”
Visit www.pray4TN.com for more information about the “Bless Every Home” initiative.