Through the generations in the kingdom of God, there are saints whose work surpasses their lifetime and reaches out for generations. The Bible teaches we are to give honor to whom honor is due (Romans 13:7), and so we honor great soul winners like Jule Miller and Mid McKnight. There is no greater way to live than dedicating one’s life to the Great Commission.
Bobby Bates was born on April 18, 1936, and died on September 18, 2001. Bobby loved people. Because he was concerned for their souls, personal evangelism was his life’s work. Even though his efforts were recognized around the world, he never grew complacent. He constantly read, studied, and evaluated his methods of teaching and willingly learned from others the best ways to share the gospel of Christ.
Bobby’s desire to teach others led him to Amsterdam, Holland, where he and his family served as missionaries for three years. After returning to the United States, he tried to spend some time each year in a foreign field, working in such places as Ghana, West Africa; Guyana, South America; Jamaica; Trinidad; Tobago; Belgium; India; and Greece, as well as many of the United States. He preached for local congregations in Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.
Bobby loved helping others learn how to effectively teach the gospel. He preached gospel meetings and led campaigns as well as conducting Personal Evangelism Workshops throughout our nation. He established a personal evangelism program during his tenure at the Bear Valley School of Biblical Studies in Denver, Colorado, and he also taught at the Southwest School of Preaching in Austin, Texas, and the Brown Trail School of Preaching in Bedford, Texas.
Bobby developed many tools for teaching the gospel. His home Bible study guides, Back to the Bible and Does it Matter? are widely used and have been very effective. He is the author of three evangelism books: Fishing for Men, Growing in Christ, and How to Close the Study.
In my first work in Poole, Kentucky, we met the local barber, Carol Whitledge. We invited him to supper, and then Nicole and I studied with Carol, using Back to the Bible for the first time. It was so easy. The study ended in a baptism.
This was just the beginning. Baptisms began to occur frequently, which caused us to call and order more and more booklets from Wilma, and we talked about Bible studies and conversions. During one conversation, Wilma learned we would be coming to Texas, so she invited us to stay in her home. This was the first of many visits. Her house was inviting and comfortable, but it was also a warehouse for all the evangelism materials, a distribution center for mailing, and a home for her family.
We quickly learned that you better be hungry when you visit Wilma. She will feed you breakfast, lunch, and supper, and she is an amazing cook. The company was always the best part as we learned more about their labors worldwide. She taught us how to be more effective soul winners. She shared Bobby’s library, personal notes, and even an unfinished book that she allowed me to complete and publish (How to Close the Study).
Since Bobby’s passing, Wilma honored his memory by keeping the tools he wrote in print. She filled every order personally, making a trip to the post office almost every day. Only God knows the eternal good from her work. Many ladies are commended in Scripture from Sarah, Deborah to Mary, Elizabeth, Phoebe, Dorcas, and Tabitha. In my humble opinion, if the Bible was written today, the name Wilma Bates would be included among the faithful. She is a living legend. She is one of the last from a generation of great soul winners. We are thankful she remains with us as we continue to be encouraged by her life.
Glencoe church of Christ, Alabama: David Marker (elder) reports, “Karen Drenner used the invitation card to invite her bank teller to our services. She visited several times and agreed to a study with our minister, Brooks Boyd. Yesterday, we had the privilege to witness her putting on Jesus in baptism. After her baptism, she talked about how many compassion cards she received. In hindsight, we can see that through teamwork, God blessed our efforts. We are collecting supplies for our backpack giveaway. We will meet after services Wednesday to get organized and prepare the backpacks for the upcoming day.”
Fayette church of Christ, Alabama: Josh Taylor (deacon) reports, “I was able to provide benevolence to a contact. We had a good conversation so he could get to know me; we hope to reach out for a Bible study in the next few weeks. I began a new Bible study yesterday. We started BTTB Book 1. The study went well, and Book 2 is scheduled for two weeks from Sunday. Please continue to pray for us.”
Hatton church of Christ, Alabama: Chris Miller (preacher) reports, “Studies continue, and we are sending cards. One of the great sides of the One Mission effort is sharing with other congregations how the process works. I met with a family last night who is excited to take back the information to their elders, and part of my lesson at another congregation tonight involves sharing the process with them. The Sower broadcasts the seed, and the more ground it hits, the more opportunity for positive results!”
College Avenue church of Christ, Enterprise, Alabama (digital): Phillip Rabren (member) reports, “Carson Cole is a young man that has been visiting our assemblies as he has been courting one of my granddaughters, Danielle Holley. He recently proposed to her, and they are engaged to be married. Three weeks ago, I spoke to him after worship, and I asked him if we could sit down and let me show him some things about our Lord and His church. He readily agreed, and we began to study Back to the Bible. He quickly understood and accepted the truth in God’s word. Today, we looked at sin and salvation, and he quickly realized that he had not been scripturally baptized. He was immediately baptized into Christ. As we celebrate the birth of our nation and our independence, may we praise God for this new birth and for Carson’s freedom from the reign of sin that he has gained in Christ.”
Lake City church of Christ, Florida: Jim Flegert (elder) reports, “This past Sunday marked the conclusion of our special training class for our members who desired to receive in-depth training for BTTB.
We were all encouraged yesterday by attending the worship service of three of our recent compassion card recipients. At present, one of these three ladies is currently involved in a BTTB study, and our prayer is that the other two will begin soon.
“Last night was our first night of VBS. Along with our 46 children, we had an additional 63 children. One of the tips we learned from the HTTH curriculum, we take pictures of all children in attendance and will continue to do so with new arrivals nightly. Next week we will have the opportunity to deliver these pictures to the parents, allowing our members to extend an invitation to these families. Our congregation is excited about the opportunities to reach these potential hot prospects.”
Mossy Oak church of Christ, Defuniak, Florida (digital): Phillip Gaither (member) reports, “We continue studying through the website and are currently on New Converts. We have three prospects; we have sent cards to one of them for four weeks and will visit soon. We have started a second week of cards with the second prospect (he was at worship Sunday). I have spoken to the third prospect twice, and we will start sending her cards this week.”
Woodstock church of Christ, Georgia: Greg Garner (deacon), “On the 4th of July, our group handed out 200 packets of information about the church and HTH brochures to parade-goers and children attending the parade. Three members of the service project relocated and installed a washer and dryer for a potential conversion. The House-to-House group visited four new contacts; one contact showed interest and took additional material. The new movers group delivered four baskets. They made 28 new baskets, 50 cards to hang on no-answer doors, and 50 business cards with QR codes. The compassion card group sent 23 cards. Application BTTB had seven attendees. Our new converts class had 18 attendees.”
Oak Hill church of Christ, Rome, Georgia: Matt Wallin (deacon) reports, “Daniel has been coming with his girlfriend Esomchi. She is a nurse and works often on Sundays, so she is only able to be there twice a month. Lately, her boyfriend Daniel has been coming, even without her. He has been engaged in my Bible class. Yesterday Daniel told me he wanted to be baptized—next week. We talked for an hour and set up a study today. I asked if his girlfriend could come. He said yes—if we could postpone the study for an hour. So, we did. (So glad we did!) We studied for about two hours. We used parts of Does it Matter and read through parts of Acts. Daniel had already decided to be baptized, and when he saw the urgency in Acts, he asked to do it tonight. After Daniel’s decision, Esomchi was quiet, so I asked her what she was thinking. (I wondered why she did not seem excited!) She broke down in tears and said she needed to be baptized, too. She realized she did not properly understand sin before her baptism, so she had been baptized but believed later. She wanted to be baptized, this time in the right order. Both Daniel and Esomchi were baptized.”
Monroe church of Christ, Georgia (digital): Charles Harris (regional trainer) reports, “There are a few Bible studies taking place here at Monroe. More members are talking to me about souls they want to reach with the gospel. I will meet with my elders soon as we review the Evangelism Model and use it more effectively to help more members get involved.”
LaFayette church of Christ, Georgia: Jesse Teague (deacon) reports, “The elders met with Ken and me today, and we worked out a little reorganization/refresh on our efforts. It was not obvious in some cases who was doing what. We did not know where the contact cards went and how the process flowed. I am going to be the central point of contact for the cards and make sure they are screened and have all the needed information. We will focus on the people we are trying to reach with the gospel. I will give the cards to Terra to prep when screened and that should make compassion card time easier. Cards will be filed in a central cabinet, where Ken can review and set up visits. We set a meeting with the elders, Ken, and me for the first Monday of each month to review compassion card recipients and prior visits and map out the next steps for more follow-up visits.”
Honolulu church of Christ, Hawaii: Lima Esene (preacher) reports, “We have some prospects for Bible studies. Please pray that these prospects will soon be in Bible studies. We continue to work the plan and encourage more and more members to be active. The highlight of last week was one soul coming home to Jesus. Katelin has been visiting our congregation for more than a year. She studied Back to the Bible during our sermon series when we taught the congregation how to use this tool. On Monday, Katelin decided to be baptized into Christ Jesus. All glory and praise to our Father! We appreciate all prayers.”
Jerseyville church of Christ, Illinois (digital): Jake Medford (preacher) reports, “We have sent cards each week, so many that we had to reorder, and we invested in another card rack for easier selection. The cards are a big hit here! Our visitor list has continued to grow each week. We have three active prospects. One has had a meal and has completed the first study (she requested the study quickly). The other two prospects have been invited for a meal so we can get to know them better. We had a 4th of July event, which brought more contacts and invitations to some family and friends. We are adding them to the card list. Our July HTH goes out in a couple of weeks. We have been getting more and more feedback on those each time they go out. We print our lists each week and are putting together our VBS, which has already given us more contacts than we imagined. We are doing some of the additional lessons from the advanced series on Sunday evening, but we are spreading them out to keep it on our minds.”
Beloit church of Christ, Kansas (digital): Dustin Dougherty (preacher) reports, “Last Wednesday and Thursday, I studied Book 1 of Back to the Biblewith a brother of one of our members, his wife, his mother-in-law, and a local friend. The man is 80. We should finish Book 3 this coming Tuesday. All who are in the study say that they have learned things from each study so far that they did not know previously. I pray that the Word will convict them, and they will obey the Word. To God be all the glory for this opportunity.”
Blanchard church of Christ, Louisiana: Pat Cella (elder) reports, “We were encouraged to have had one of our prospects visit our evening service. We will send her cards Wednesday. We are excited to start our congregational training on how to us the Back to the Bible booklets beginning this Wednesday night.”
LaPlata church of Christ, Maryland (digital): Eric Sykes (regional trainer) wrote, “We revamped our Compassion Card writing process, and we were able to send out 121 compassion cards last week. That’s more than twice the number of members we have. We had eight visitors; three were adults and five were children. We added 12 new projects to the congregational prospects list. Four were past members we had not seen recently. We currently have 25 prospects on our compassion card mailing list; seven have been prospected for four weeks, and we have scheduled visits. Five have been prospected for three weeks and will be added to the visitation list next week. We currently have five new converts in the new converts training classes. The classes are currently being conducted via Zoom due to the lack of classroom space in the building. We are using “Growing in Christ” by Bobby Bates. All five new converts are being mentored by various members of the congregation. We currently have four active Bible studies. Two are in Lesson 2 of Back to the Bible. Two have recently completed Lesson 3 and have moved on to Does it Matter? We have three open Bible studies that are currently stalled, but I am working with the members to help them get their studies back on track. We appreciate all prayers.”
Southside church of Christ, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Freddie Klein (preacher) reports, “We participated in the 4th of July parade and handed out more than 1000 combined information brochures and VBS flyers. We reviewed the evangelism model with the congregation Wednesday. Sunday in our men’s business meeting, we discussed the model, and then we wrote cards for the first time. Sunday, I preached on how to get into a Bible study from Evangelism Simplified and How to Study Your Bible. This week I will start preaching through the Back to Bible study guides.”
Looxahoma church of Christ, Mississippi: Blake Hawkins (deacon) reports, “Our preacher continued teaching Lesson 1 of Back to the Bible to the congregation in a class immediately following our afternoon service. Compassion Card Writing Teams meet every Sunday afternoon to reach out to our contacts. Things are moving smoothly in that effort. We are preparing to implement the New Movers Outreach. We hope to have everything stored efficiently and seamlessly so teams can begin visiting newcomers into our area beginning next month. A family moved near the church building a few weeks ago, and we have already taken them a basket and a pie. Everyone seems excited and eager to roll out the new mover efforts!”
West Hwy 160 church of Christ, West Plains, Missouri (digital): Marvin Hatley (elder) reports, “Members continue three active Bible studies. One study, led by a recent convert, has completed Book 1 and is moving to Book 2 this week. The second study is a back-door Bible study. We completed the second book, and the prospect has agreed to proceed to Book 3 next week. The third study has encountered some scheduling delays, but the prospect remains willing to finish the Book 2 study. Members are continuing to cultivate prospects. Card group 2 prepared 89 compassion cards for this week’s mailing. Mentoring and the new converts class continue to progress. Our Transition Thursday has revealed opportunities for benevolent efforts. The ladies of the congregation are providing meals for two prospects with health conditions.”
Samford church of Christ, Steele, Missouri: Kyle Imel (deacon) reports, “We had around 20 people write one person a compassion card in our community. We plan to hold a community VBS/school backpack giveaway August 2. The goal is to get several contacts. We will make a few more visits from previous contact cards.”
East Flushing church of Christ, New York (digital): Clarence Jenkins (preacher) reports, “We sent out 15 compassion cards, three of which were for new movers, for the third week. Now we must grow in focusing on the follow-up after the fourth week. We had a total of five visitors Sunday. One has been attending for over a year with his family, all of whom have been baptized into Christ. One first-time visitor who is grieving had planned to come to worship and did come. Another first-time visitor conversed with one member and was given a copy of House to House. Yet another first-time visitor who just had a baby was invited, and she came too. Then a visitor who had been coming consistently for a month started a Bible study in Spanish, and then went out with us to eat. We appreciate all prayers for our efforts in reaching the lost.”
Carthage church of Christ, North Carolina (digital): Randy Chambers (preacher) reports, “The congregation conducted five new Bible studies BTTB 1 with prospects. All went well, and subsequent studies were scheduled. We continue to teach new members of the HTHSOE Program using mock Bible studies to build confidence in using the material. Our new converts are embracing their new lives in Christ.”
Cary church of Christ, North Carolina: Larry Fife (preacher) reports, “The Cary congregation continues to work our evangelism plan. On Sunday, I preached on how to use Back to the Bible and gave an overview on how to do a Bible study. These books will be added to our evangelism table. Each piece we add will be taught first to the congregation. We had three visitors on Sunday whom we met during our door knocking campaign, and one of them is interested in a Bible study. Currently we have two Bible studies in progress. We have our connect groups organized, and group 1 met Sunday and wrote 92 compassion cards. The congregation is active and excited.”
Coweta church of Christ, Oklahoma: Keno Shrum (elder) reports, “After going through all three lessons of Back to the Bible, Linda recognized that her previous baptism in a denomination was not scriptural because she was taught she was saved by going forward and accepting Christ into her heart as her personal Savior. A short time later, she was baptized as an outward show of an inward faith, a false teaching that is unfortunately taught in so many religious bodies. When Linda understood, she immediately wanted to be baptized in a scriptural manner. On Thursday night, she committed her life to God through the waters of baptism. We are so joyful and blessed to see yet another soul answer the call after going through BTTB. I realize there are other successful studies such as Jule Miller, the “Big Picture,” and many more. The command is to spread the gospel. How we do that is up to us as long as we are teaching in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). That being said, from my personal experience, Back to the Bible has been the most successful study guide I have ever used. Time and time again, souls answer the call after going through the study. It is a wonderful tool to be used as a guide. Many people are happy to evangelize, but they just do not know how. This tool is the guide that they need. I am thankful that we were shown this study and how to use it.”
York church of Christ, Pennsylvania: Terry Zortman (elder) reports, “We are seeing an exceptional evangelistic effort with 24 prospects contacted with compassion cards. From these we have made ten visits with five more scheduled. Two have recently been baptized. This Sunday, 15 percent of our attendance were consistent repeat visitors.”
East Ridge church of Christ, Chattanooga, Tennessee: Charles Cochran (preacher) reports, “We had a baptism recently who is a friend of a member. We shared BTTB Lesson 2 and part of Lesson 3. Her friend Alicia taught lesson one, and Ginny and I are following up with additional lessons. Her name is Christian Seals.”
New Hope church of Christ, Middleton, Tennessee: Cole Wade (preacher) reports, “We had a men’s meeting Sunday and discussed plans for members to schedule studies with some of our guests. I recently had a discussion with some of the guests about their church background and what New Hope is like for them, so some of our members are planning a study with them soon. We appreciate all prayers.”
East Main church of Christ, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Brad Rowley (elder) reports, “Sunday was an amazing day. We rejoice in the baptism of three of our youth: Emma Maxwell, Hadley England, and Presley Robinette. We are thankful for our teachers, Mike Raines and Brett Nanney. Mike and Brett worked together on Sunday and Wednesday to teach all three lessons of Back to the Bible. They always commented positively on how our youth read, asked questions, and answered them during the lessons. All three girls stated the Back to the Bible lessons impacted their decision to obey the gospel. All three have been raised in a Christian home and attend CYC and youth camps. Presley was baptized by her grandfather, Hugh Campbell. Emma and Hadley were baptized by our pulpit minister, Jon Mitchell. To God be the glory. Card Team 2 wrote 73 compassion cards Sunday. We had two new contacts from last week and two Bible studies last week.”
Old Jefferson church of Christ, Smyrna, Tennessee: Bob Horn (preacher) reports, “At least six new movers’ baskets have been delivered, and we are sending invitation cards. We have one Bible study currently taking place with one who was keeping her defenses up about even visiting, but then she started asking more questions, and it developed into a study. We pray that she finds the truth and obeys the gospel.”
Covington church of Christ, Tennessee: Wayne Dalrymple (elder) reports, “My family and I were on vacation last week with a group of about 85. On Tuesday, we hosted a devotional with 18 of them, and only one other person present was a Christian. I spoke to our guide about religion. I was able to plant the seed. This week, we have five in Cleburne, Texas, helping with AMC. I will be studying Book 3 with Thomas this Monday. I think he will become a Christian that day.”
New Union church of Christ, Manchester, Tennessee: Paul Fulks (elder) reports, “At the Sunday AM service during Bible class, an elder made a presentation to the congregation about all progress made last August. The congregation was informed of the new website with all the training videos and the curriculum for the HTHHTH School of Evangelism. This week we had five new contact cards. We had two visitors on Sunday. Card Team 2 completed 73 cards. Last week, members made six follow-up visits and contacts. Several new mover basket assignments were made and delivered. A Bible study is scheduled for this week.”
Bargerton church of Christ in Lexington, Tennessee (digital): Robert Pruitt (member) reports, “We discussed Back to the Bible Book 3 at our evening service. We rejoice that a woman named Rhonda Robertson, who had been attending recently, came forward and was baptized into Christ. This further proves that Back to the Bible and the School of Evangelism works! To God be the glory!”
Dellrose church of Christ, Tennessee: Mike Hovis (member) reports, “We have four new contacts, three from HTH new visitors, and one added by a member asking prayers for a sick family member. Group 2 prepared 38 cards to be sent this week. We have three visits assigned to members and will report on those in the next week or two.”
Rogersville church of Christ, Tennessee: Ethan Tate (preacher) reports, “We had three new prospects made through some of members. One was an erring Christian (not a member from here) who was restored along with two others who have agreed to Bible studies. We originally planned a final study with one family who is so close to responding to the gospel. However, a health concern came up that temporarily postponed the study. This gave us a good chance for compassion cards to build our relationship with the family even more. We appreciate all prayers. Lord willing, we will have new brothers and sisters in Christ soon!”
Midtown church of Christ, Victoria, Texas: James Cammock (deacon) reports, “We had another baptism Sunday! Leonard Bates studied with our preacher and decided to obey the gospel. We are currently writing compassion cards to five different individuals.”
Madison County church of Christ, Jackson, Tennessee: Steven Sprouse (preacher) reports, “Since January, we have had four restorations. We currently have two Bible studies ongoing and many prospects we are engaging with. We have our Transition Tuesday this week.”
Hwy 95 church of Christ, Taylor, Texas: Benjamin Dossey (preacher) reports, “We sent compassion cards to one of the visitors from our new movers’ program. Our new converts class is ongoing. We have a Bible study planned with Amy on Thursday. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we could not meet for the study last week, so we will continue Book 2 of Back to the BibleThursday. We have our VBS next week, and we hope to make more contacts from our community.”
Northern Oaks church of Christ, San Antonio, Texas: Mel Hutzler (elder) reports, “We have a few Bible studies taking place with a few more being planned. A couple who visited has requested premarital counseling, and I hope to have a Bible study with both of them. There are a few more visitors who could become open to Bible studies. We have our new converts class every Sunday. We call it the Bible Fundamentals class. It is taught by one of our elders. We have an ongoing evangelism class every Wednesday before services. Recently we went out into our community and invited 374 households to come to our VBS. We hope to generate lots of contacts to prospect and gather Bible studies.”
Bridgewater church of Christ, Katy, Texas: Doug Suggs (member) reports, “We rejoice at the baptism of Allison Marquina and Wendy Westley on Wednesday, July 5. We have been studying with these special ladies for several weeks, and they are faithfully attending. They are a huge encouragement to us. This Sunday we will sign compassion cards after the evening service. We are getting organized in other areas of this work as well. One of our members, Andre Washington, has had some medical problems. When I asked about his studies, he said he finished one this evening. This person was baptized about a week and a half ago. He is now working with some friends. Andre is excited about a male nurse prospect he met while in the hospital. His remarks were, “Spent good time teaching him.” He is looking forward to having dinner with him and continuing to teach him. He has been working with a Nigerian couple, but because of illness, they could not continue.”
Southwest church of Christ, Austin, Texas: John Garza (regional trainer) reports, “We celebrated the graduation of eight students from the Southwest school of Bible Studies. These students have been deeply studying the Word of God so that they may teach the Word to the saved and the lost. While we congratulate every one of them for their accomplishment, we recognize Jesse Stuart and Raoul Ferris, as they will begin working in the kingdom and specifically as they fish for lost souls. Every year, they will be working with a different congregation, teaching and showing by example how to evangelize every personal community. We appreciate prayers for them as they demonstrate their love for souls and their work for the King.”
Graceton church of Christ, Diana, Texas: Johnny Willeford (elder) reports, “On July 4, Hanna Gatling was baptized after finishing the third lesson from Back to the Bible with Scott, our preacher. Some of our families got together at the building for a 4th of July fellowship with hotdogs and chili; we invited people from our community. We had 15 visitors who enjoyed the meal and fireworks. We have contact information for five new families. On Sunday, we had two visitors. Scott finished the training for our congregation on Lesson 2 of Back to the Bible. We will start our new converts class in a couple of weeks. Last evening our Group C wrote 150 compassion cards. Nine of those receiving cards will receive home visits in the next two weeks. It is their fourth week of receiving them. We have received thank you cards from some of them already. Eighteen individuals will receive compassion cards this week.”
Central church of Christ, Martinsburg, West Virginia: Robert Veil (preacher) reports, “We rejoice at the baptism of Allison Marquina and Wendy Westley on Wednesday, July 5. We have been studying with these special ladies for several weeks, and they are faithfully attending the services. They are a huge encouragement to us all.”
NOTE: These reports are from Christians and congregations enrolled in the House to House/Heart to Heart School of Evangelism. These emails are sent to teach and provoke one another to remain focused on the mission of Christ. Each week, we share several reports and highlight one with more details. We hope you enjoy reading them.
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