|Source: Baptist Press|
When Southern Baptist missionaries Jared and Jennifer Huntley relocated to the Washington, D.C. area, they began praying for someone to help them reach marines at the local military base and their families.
Unexpectedly during the Fall of 2021, Jonathan, a local marine, reached out about walking to get more involved; it was an answer to prayer.
“Johnathan originally got in touch with me, actually before he moved to D.C.,” Jared recalled. “It was right around the time we were launching.”
The Huntleys relocated to the area to relaunch Pillar Church of Washington, D.C.
Pillar Church is part of SBC’s Praetorian Project – a family of multiplying churches in military communities.
A former serviceman deployed to the Middle East during the War on Terror, ministry to military families is near to Jared’s heart.
“I know the spiritual need that exists within the Armed Services,” Jared said.
Recognizing the potential of service members to serve as ambassadors for Christ, Jared noted that equipping soldiers turned them into evangelists in their barracks where they could witness for Christ while serving as positive role models for their peers.
Additionally, because military families routinely relocate, they are natural globetrotting missionaries waiting to witness
“We’re supposed to send,” he said. “If the government is already moving these people all over the place naturally, why not instead of seeing that as a problem see that as an opportunity to say, ‘Let’s disciple these families, and then they’re going to take the Gospel with them everywhere.’ To me, it seems like a great way to accomplish the Great Commission.”
Prior to the Huntleys’ arrival in Washington, D.C., Pillar Church was struggling to recruit new members. In response, the Huntleys decided to focus on the local Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.
“There’s about 1,200 Marines posted there, and it’s a really strategic place,” Jared said. “And we just were praying that we could get a foothold in there, because we didn’t really have one at that point. And we felt like that was a specific place that God was calling us to reach.”
After learning about the Praetorian Project, Johnathan contacted the Huntleys wanting to know how he could help.
“So, he showed up in town, and we met up,” Jared said. “He started attending the church, and it quickly became clear that he had a heart for evangelism and specifically wanted to share the Gospel with other Marines like himself.”
Little by little, more marines became more involved. The church’s growth soon attracted the attention of the base’s chaplain who was extremely supportive of the new church.
Since then, they have had several marines and their families become connected, join the church and even get baptized.
“It’s just been amazing to watch,” Jared said. “It seems like we have new Marines showing up almost every Sunday at this point.”
To-date, the church continues to grow and has even gotten involved in local area ministries that have helped expand the witness of the church, helping connect soldiers with local Washington, D.C. residents.
Together, they are working to develop youth programs to prevent drug and gang violence, helping youth see alternative opportunities for positive social development.
Source: Baptist Press