Other than a few names, Brandie Upshaw didn’t really know her Gulfport, Miss. neighbors.
So when her husband, Brian, accepted a job with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), they committed to doing things differently in their new home. As they prepared to move from Mississippi to North Carolina they prayed for God to move them into a neighborhood where He would use them to share the gospel.
Five years ago Upshaw had no idea the journey God had in store for her family, and she shared that journey during the Sept. 6-7 women’s prayer and evangelism conference hosted by Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries of the BSC. Her breakout session on learning to do evangelism from the home was one of several sessions offered during the conference at Ridgecrest. The conference also included plenary sessions and special prayer times.
BSC photo by Alexandra King
Brandie Upshaw shares how her family started a Bible study in their home after building relationships with their neighbors. Upshaw was part of “Leaving A Legacy,” a two-day conference sponsored by Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries.
Initially, trying to meet and build relationships with neighbors was not easy and at times proved frustrating. Yet, the Upshaws continued praying and seeking opportunities to get to know the people in their neighborhood.
“They saw that we were real people,” Upshaw said. “We were very intentional about reorienting our life to interact with our neighbors.
“Sometimes we don’t take the Great Commission literally,” she said. “Literally, God has placed us somewhere and He has a bunch of people around us who need to know Him.”
About two years after moving, one neighbor expressed interest in participating in a Bible study that the Upshaws wanted to start in the neighborhood. They began the study with Bible storying and that study led to a more in-depth Bible study with two adult couples. That study has led to other Bible studies and, ultimately, salvations.
“Give them the gospel, but also give them your life,” Upshaw said. “People have been hurt by other people and they blame it on God. Pray for love and relationships that point to your Savior; don’t make people your projects.”
During her breakout session Upshaw encouraged the women to be mindful that many people have not been taught basic Bible truths and stories, and so they must be patient and take time to offer explanations as needed.
For example, during a study on the book of Acts, one of the men in the Upshaw’s neighborhood Bible study had never read Acts and he had no idea that Saul would become the apostle Paul. His excitement upon learning how God changed this man’s life brought much joy to Upshaw.
“They are so hungry and they have such fresh eyes,” she said. “I have learned so much from my neighbors.”
Upshaw’s mother-in-law, Judy, also began a Bible study with her neighbors. She moved to North Carolina to be closer to family and within about six months knew many of her neighbors, most being senior adults.
Just by going on walks in her neighborhood she met many people, and as she did, she asked if they were interested in a Bible study.
What started as one group of five or six ladies has turned into three groups, including a group in a nearby neighborhood. Upshaw shared during the breakout session that neither she nor her mother-in-law did anything out of the ordinary in their neighborhoods.
“We are just normal ladies,” she said. “It’s all God; it’s totally Him. It’s nothing I do that’s special. “In my former neighborhood I wasn’t really there,” she added. “It’s fun to see what God can do just by loving the people around you.”