Jamestown, TN — On a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, a barefoot Eugene Hensley scurries around a Walmart parking lot in Jamestown giving out hugs and rocks with the name, "Jesus" scrawled across them.
Nearly as quickly as he pulls the inscribed pebbles out of his pockets to give to a group of teenagers, more visitors walk up to the giant yellow school bus he has parked in the back of the lot, and he hurries off to greet them with rocks and hugs as well.
It’s no surprise, most people simply know him as the “Jesus Rocks” man.
"I've had people pull out rocks and say, ' Man, I've had this rock for over 15 years.' It's just the thought that counts. A little something special, you know. It's just a rock, but it's the name on the rock that counts,” Hensley says.
When a man in a pickup truck pulls up to the bus to inquire about picking out one of the larger scripture-covered slates for his wife, Hensley pulls out a pile of Jesus pebbles and thrusts them through the drivers-side window.
“Keep one and give the rest away,” Hensley explains.
The man in the truck admits he was never much of a church-goer but was willing to give his heart to Jesus as Hensley took off his cowboy hat and bowed his head to pray with him.
“That’s what this is all about, planting seeds. That’s the greatest miracle on earth to lead a lost soul to Jesus. That’s what I’m after,” Hensley said.
Happy doesn't begin to describe the man who can hardly keep still from the excitement he feels giving away his rocks, but when he was growing up, life was rocky for Hensley.
As a family who had never known money, Hensley says his teenage world was torn apart when his parents received a large insurance settlement from a car crash they had been in. What should have been a blessing, quickly became a curse.
“When we got that money, it tore our little family apart,” Hensley went on to describe some of the heartaches that followed, including an addiction to painkillers and the death of both his parents when he was a teenager.
“When they buried mommy, they buried most of me with her,” Hensley said. “I doubted what I knew to have, but on 3-3-03 (March 3, 2003), I said, ‘Lord God I can’t stand this. Please help,’ and praise God, he did.”
Since Hensley knows how it feels to hit rock bottom, he’s able to help people like Kat Henning up from theirs.
“When he handed me that rock, he was just so happy to give it to me. I think he was more tickled to give it to me than I was to receive it. He was just jumping up and down,” Henning said as she sat at a table painting rocks for them to hand out at Walmart.
It’s stories like hers that make his unconventional ministry solid as a rock.