GULFPORT, Miss. (BP) — “Don’t live in fear anymore,” Lisa Cohen Huff recalls hearing while half asleep in bed one morning at her Hattiesburg home. “Here’s the door. All you’ve got to do is step through,” she heard the next morning.
Huff grew up Jewish. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic largely shut down onsite worship, she had begun watching livestreamed worship and devotionals by First Baptist Church in Gulfport, an hour south of her home. The pastor there, Jimmy Stewart, was a childhood friend of her husband Pope Huff, who was a Christian.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted Jimmy … ‘You made me cry again,'” she said. “The services were like, ‘Did you write this for me? I feel like you’re talking to me.'”
Lisa insisted on accepting Jesus on the phone after an Easter night Zoom session. Stewart led her in the sinner’s prayer. She drove to Gulfport weeks later to be baptized.
“I’m on the phone with her Easter Sunday night, and I mean, she was not getting off the phone with me until she prayed to receive Christ,” Stewart said. He tried to put her in touch with a pastor closer to her home but, “She wasn’t having it.”
Lisa’s story is among the fruit of First Gulfport’s expanded online ministry during the coronavirus pandemic. A Kentucky deacon looking to boost his spiritual growth, a longtime believer named Faith in Virginia who wasn’t living for the Lord, and people in the Philippines and Germany have been worshiping and studying with First Gulfport. Viewers are inviting friends and sharing videos.
“[Faith’s] trying to figure out how to get down here with her husband so I can baptize her down here,” Stewart said. “I tried to direct her to some churches up there, and she said, ‘For right now, I just need to be a part of your church.'”
Faith participates in a First Gulfport online women’s life group on Tuesday nights. She is developing a friendship with Lisa and is sharing online worship with a friend who has doubts about Christianity.
Stewart gives God credit for the outreach.
“It’s not about me, and it’s not about First Gulfport,” Stewart said. “What is He doing in the Kingdom? What are we beginning to see right now of networking? … This technology is not new. What we’re doing right now, what we’re seeing is God is pushing this in a new direction. It’s the only way I can describe it, and we’re just trying to keep up with Him.”
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Source: Baptist Press