In the wee hours of the morning Ozark Mountain Highway 39 stretches dark and
lonely between the small bedroom community of Aurora, Missouri, and
well-traveled roads that lead to the popular city of Branson, an emerging
country music capital in America's heartland. Through the thick darkness, cars
speed by anonymously.
Just outside Aurora, a large sign projects a light and a message so bright
that it penetrates the black sky, and hopefully, hearts as well--much like the
comforting lighthouse beacon that leads sailors safely home from the sea.
"Kneel before God, stand for Jesus and serve you Humbly," reads the message
and mission statement of the small Humble Baking Company, owned by Peggy
She is an outreach-minded Christian and former stay-at-home mom whose goal
is to serve customers scrumptious food while reminding them Who it is she truly
seeks to serve.
"We use our big sign to evangelize," Peggy said. "It lights up the highway.
We love to shine for Him."
Peggy serves breakfast, lunch and homemade baked goods from the cozy little
bungalow with gleaming hardwood floors that used to be a two-bedroom home.
References to her faith are everywhere, starting with the menu that offers
"heavenly desserts" and a prayer, "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him
for our food."
On several occasions, Peggy has held "illustrations of faith" suppers, using
the large highway sign to invite the community. Standing before a large kettle
and surrounded by curious guests, Peggy explains the Four Spiritual Laws with
scriptural references while she makes a big batch of chili.
The large pot represents the world. Hamburger is our carnal selves, Peggy
explains. Skimming off unhealthy grease, she tells diners: "The grease is sin,
and it has to go. It's not good for you."
After offering the significance of a string of other ingredients, Peggy
stirs in chili powder last, saying: "This is faith, the substance of things
hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith brings everything together
in the pot. This is your spiritual life, and if you don't have this, it won't
taste right. No one wants to eat chili that hasn't been seasoned."
The guests then dine by candlelight. Each time, the 26-seat dining room is
filled and a waiting list is begun for the next dinner.
"We are not just another business," Peggy said. "We want people to know that
we serve God here. We are a light to this community."
Are you a light to your community?
Christians are very much like lighthouses that stand along rocky coastlines
braving the crashing waves. Each one is different and emits its own unique
signal. Yet each shares a common purpose: to serve as a sentinel between danger
and safety, between death and life, with a goal of guiding the lost from
troubled waters to safe harbor with their saving light.
Perhaps you don't yet recognize that, by being a Christian, you are already
a lighthouse, and God is igniting His flame in you.
Your light can be a beacon to your neighbors. They may be drawn to you but
not know why--until you share with them the Source of your own eternal light
that brightens up the neighborhood.
At work the beam of your Christ-inspired ethics can draw attention to the
principles in His Word by which you live. Maybe your workplace becomes a
gathering spot during lunch or after work--an alternative to the proverbial
water cooler of gripes and gossip. Instead, you offer a secure place and an ear
for questions from co-workers seeking the Truth they sense in you.
Your playtime--hobbies, sports, activities with friends--can be
opportunities to share Christ's love and saving grace. With a little ingenuity
you can mix fun with fulfilling the Great Commission.
Here are examples of how some Christians have used their homes, their jobs
or their play to illuminate their little corner of a dark world.
A Little Bit Of Heaven is what Shelley and John Johnson, an electrical
engineer by trade, call their charming Burnsville, North Carolina, home that
they've turned into a bed and breakfast mission field for God.
"As the Lord leads people here, we try to take every opportunity to share
our faith," Shelley said.
With a goal of sharing Jesus Christ, nearly every evening the Johnsons
invite their guests for coffee and dessert on the deck that overlooks the
breathtakingly beautiful Pisgah National Forest. And they take as many as are
willing to church with them on Sundays.
Shelley said she has been made aware of many who came to the Lord after a
stay at A Little Bit Of Heaven.
A recent visitor called and said on the way home that her husband, who had
been a church-goer most of his life, pulled off the road and cried while he
prayed to accept Jesus as his personal Savior.
"People often talk about feeling the presence of the Lord here, and it's not
our doing, it's almighty God," Shelley said. "Praise His name."
There was a time when Thomas Hammond was okay with confronting people with
the gospel and moving on. But it wasn't effective for him and it left him
feeling that there must be another way to reach people.
Thomas discovered a transformational technique for leading people to Christ
called Building Witnessing Relationships. He and his family employed the
principles in their former neighborhood, and all but two of the 11 families on
their cul-de-sac became Christians or rededicated their lives.
"The training gave me a consciousness that witnessing is more than sharing
the gospel--it's showing people who you are. And who sees you more than the
people you live around? My wife, Kerri, and I offered our family and our home
to be used in any way God would lead us," Thomas says.
At its heart, Building Witnessing Relationships encourages Christians to
earn the right to be heard through the way they live and by developing
friendships with others. At the same time, the program encourages Christians to
determine the spiritual condition of people they meet.
"We basically let people know we cared and would help them any way we could.
We would help people do yard work, help them watch their kids and invite them
over for dinner. We had a block party and grilled out in our backyard. The only
spiritual thing we did was pray, but it was the beginning of seeing people's
lives changed, and instrumental in the impact of our future fellowship."
Now in Atlanta, Georgia, Thomas, director of direct evangelism for the North
American Mission Board, says, "We're in a new neighborhood, and we are excited
about allowing God to do it again through us."
I pray in the morning, 'Lord, give me someone to share my faith with.' And
God gives me opportunities all the time," said Russell Gagnard.
A Christian of two years, he is the owner of Cool Master air conditioning
service in Kenner, Louisiana.
Russell started in the family business at age 7 when he began carrying his
father's toolbox. That's where he first met Mr. Ed, a vibrant man who always
let young Russell watch his electric trains while his dad worked.
Russell now owns the business and recently went on a call to find Mr. Ed in
a hospital bed, hooked up to oxygen tanks. Mr. Ed's wife confirmed he was
dying. As Russell began to work on the equipment he couldn't get his mind off
his old friend. He asked the Lord what he should do.
"I shared God's truth with Mr. Ed, and then I asked, 'Do you want eternal
life?' He whispered, 'Yes,' the best he could. And we prayed together. He
repented and received Jesus."
One week later, Mr. Ed died.
"In the past two years I've led about a dozen people to Christ," Russell
said. Russell has given away at least 60 Bibles, which he and his wife,
Suzanne, purchase by the case to give to customers to whom he has
"I believe we all have those kinds of opportunities if we look for
As owner of an outdoor advertising firm in Laurel, Mississippi, Richard
Hedrick often used his 4,000 billboards spread over nine states to promote his
passion: reaching people for Christ.
Motorists viewed such messages as "Lonely? Try Jesus," or "Happy Hour, 6
p.m. Grace Covenant Church."
Richard sold the business in 1997 and used the money to fund The Hope
Foundation, which he established to finance full-time international mission
work. Richard and his wife, Gina, are now planting churches. They also served
the Lord overseas, ministering in leper colonies and orphanages in Vietnam,
establishing a Bible institute in El Salvador.
He continues to shine a light for Christ at the Hedrick Sign Company, which
manufactures high-rise signs. Every week most of the 80 employees attend
optional devotions. Richard also has invited a missionary who specializes in
ministering to factory workers to visit the business.
"We pray that our employees will find Christ through this," Richard said.
"Jesus is the first priority in our lives. We love Him. He is precious to
.M.R. Hamilton is a skillful craftsman who, at 26, reached his life's goal
to be a self-sufficient mountain man by crafting long bows.
Then he was shocked to realize that his dream wouldn't sustain him.
After visiting a Southern Baptist church, M.R. met the Creator of the
universe, Whose work in the outdoors he had long admired. He earned a doctorate
of divinity, became a Baptist minister and is now using his world-renowned
reputation as a sportsman to draw hunters and fishermen to Christ. He estimates
that at least 90 percent of all outdoorsmen do not know God.
M.R., who is also a Mission Service Corps volunteer and bi-vocational
pastor, speaks at wild game suppers sponsored by local churches in rural
"I tell them hunting stories, and then I move into my story about being lost
in life. Every hunter knows that feeling, the panic and terror that grips them.
I tell them I got that feeling once while looking down on my own house from a
mountain in Colorado when I realized there was a God, the Creator of the
universe, and that I did not know Him.
"Then I tell them, 'If you are here and you don't know Jesus Christ, let me
tell you, friend, you should be having that same experience,'" M.R. said. After
his talks, church attendance has increased by about 10 percent.
"God gives us gifts, and He expects us to use those gifts to reach people no
one else can reach."
As a teacher in a Christian school who mostly socialized with church
friends, Jami Weber of Sisters, Oregon, was troubled that she didn't have many
opportunities to share Christ.
About a year ago, Jami took up the craft of quilting.
As her interest in quilts grew, she found herself reading about how some
women gathered into groups--called quilting circles or bees--to share the task
and to socialize. The practice was particularly popular during the Great
Depression of the 1930s when women often joined forces to get their work done
and to visit with each other without spending money.
Suddenly, a light bulb went on in Jami's already creative mind, and she
recognized an opportunity for evangelizing around an enjoyable hobby.
She created a quilting circle to draw in non-Christians. When the 10 members
meet to sew and chat, Jami illuminates the discussions with the Christian
principles she threads in.
Frank and Jane Pollard,
When do you get to reach around the world from your own home? When God
brings the world to your door. I am senior pastor of the First Baptist Church
in Jackson, Mississippi, and my wife Jane, is involved in prison ministry. At
home we try to live a lifestyle of evangelism.
Every four years an international ballet competition is held in Jackson.
Sometimes the Russians live in our home for a while. One year we got to be
friends with Jorge Lysenco, who was the Russian ballet master. He wanted to
stay in America, so we sponsored him for a year. He became a Christian, a
member of our church, and I got to baptize Jorge.
One night we invited the entire Russian dance troupe to our home for dinner.
We gave Jorge our credit card to buy groceries, and they prepared a Russian
meal for us.
I asked our neighbor, a Jewish man from Russia, to interpret because I would
be talking about the most important thing I know, my faith in Christ. My Jewish
friend interpreted the gospel to his Russian comrades and it was he, not they,
who became a Christian.
owner of A.G. Tremble Company,
My family's business, the A.G. Tremble Company, imprints names, slogans or
company logos on promotional products such as coffee mugs, key chains and
We include Bible verses on our products to send to new customers and on
invoices, order acknowledgments or thank you notes to our suppliers. This often
surprises them because not many businesses do that.
We give a lot of thought to choosing the scriptures. We've sent a lighted
key chain imprinted with: The Lord is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27:1),
and a plastic can cover that reads: I CAN do all things through Christ who
strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13). Our brochure, "Why you should do business
with us," contains my personal testimony and is sent with a refrigerator magnet
that lists the Four Spiritual Laws.
Occasionally we lose a customer. But I would rather share Christ and lose
business than get the business and be silent about the Lord. I believe your
Christianity should flavor everything you do.
Allen and Becky May,
My husband, Allen, and I raise and show Tennessee walking horses. It was
obvious when we saw Olympic's Energizer that he is exceptional.
We nicknamed him Possum. He was wild and hard to break, and the first time I
showed him was at the 1998 world championship. It was nerve wracking to go in
front of 30,000 people knowing if I were nervous, high-spirited Possum would
sense it. I prayed I would be at peace all day. When I got on Possum, I was
totally calm, and so was he. We had a flawless ride, and all five judges
unanimously picked Possum as the world champion in his class.
Two days later Possum competed against mares, geldings and stallions and won
the 2-year-old amateur World Grand Championship. After Possum and I circled the
arena in the winner's traditional "Spotlight Ride," I turned that spotlight on
Jesus and told everyone who would listen that the glory goes to Him.
We have continued to thank God, using our trade publication advertisements
to share our faith with readers across the country. Our Christmas ad began,
"From our home to yours, have a Christ-filled Christmas. Thank you, Lord, for
blessing us with an exceptional little bay stallion. Your calming, reassuring
presence was with Possum and me every step of the way."
Deborah Mendenhall is an award-winning journalist and author living in
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