On May 10, 1968, the pastor’s wife and another lady from Beacon Hill Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, were visiting new arrivals in their area. The house they planned to visit had whiskey bottles in the front window. The intended message was “Bad people live here; don’t mess with them.” The residents, Robert and Linda Huddleston, had bought the house and recently moved in. They had met at the Player’s Lounge where Linda was a bartender. The church ladies considered skipping this house, but they didn’t. Instead they won Bob and Linda to Christ!
Bob was born and raised in Oregon. He served as a Korean language specialist in the United States Air Force and was also trained in data processing. Linda, born and raised in Dallas, Texas, was a high school dropout but later earned her GED at Baptist Bible College (BBC) in Springfield, Missouri, where she and Bob prepared to serve the Lord on the foreign field. While a student at BBC, Bob began Maranatha Baptist Church in nearby Richland. Some of the missionary students from the nearby linguistic training school of New Tribes Mission (NTM) attended their services. The NTM people told the Huddlestons about the many unreached, Bibleless tribal people of the world, and God began to burden their hearts to reach them. At NTM, they met Baptist missionaries George and Sharon Anderson. The Andersons had left Mexico to attend the NTM Boot Camp and Language School with the stated purpose of learning all they could from NTM so they could begin a similar school to train Baptist missionaries.
That school, Baptist Bible Translators Institute (BBTI), began in September 1973 in Forth Worth, Texas. Bob and Linda were in the first class along with the Andersons and two other families. Early in 1976, the Huddlestons went to Colombia, South America, and began learning Spanish. Their BBTI training, especially the phonetics, helped them to speak the new language much better than most foreigners. Their goal was to work with unreached jungle tribes, but unfortunately, the communist guerrillas were making major inroads and controlling the jungle areas. The Huddlestons were allowed to stay in Colombia but were forbidden by the government to work in the jungle. They began churches in Villavicencio and the Llano (plains). They also began a Bible institute. During the beginning days of their ministry there, they adopted a Colombian baby girl whom they named Jody Lynn. After approximately ten years in Colombia, Bob and Linda were denied visas and were forced to leave. Jody became a US citizen at age nine.
The Huddlestons did not quit serving the Lord; they just changed locations. For the next ten years, Bob pastored the Trinity Baptist Fellowship Church in Phoenix, Arizona. During those years, Bob finished his BA and got his MA and CPE. After that, he became a chaplain in the Texas State Prison system. His bilingualism was a great help in these places. Linda also was hired by the prison to work in the mail room. All prison correspondence, entering and leaving, must be read by prison officials, and her ability in two languages was especially useful. During his tenure in the prison system, Bob began pastoring a church in the East Texas city of Jacksonville. There he taught the people why we hold to the Authorized Version of the Bible and established a faith promise missionary giving program that still continues. Bob stepped down from the full-time pastorate in 2009. He is a Trustee of Baptist Bible Translators Institute and continues to preach and serve the Lord in East Texas, witnessing in both English and Spanish as the Lord gives him open doors. The Huddlestons are helping to home school their ten-year old granddaughter. It has been over fifty-two years since they kept whiskey bottles in the window!