After Amy Melder became a Christian at the age of six, she set out to evangelize everyone she cared about. One of the names on the top of her list was a person whom she’d never actually met: Fred Rogers.
Amy was a frequent viewer of PBS’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and had formed a deep connection to the gentle host who made her feel “safe and accepted in his tiny staged living room.” So she penned Rogers a letter to “make sure he knew he was going to heaven.” Within weeks, she received a lengthy response from a man who personally answered every piece of fan mail he received.
He thanked her for the colorful drawing she sent him, which “is special because you made it for me.” And then he addressed the matter that most concerned Amy:
You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD.
Fred Rogers was an ordained minister, but he was no televangelist, and he never tried to impose his beliefs on anyone. Behind the cardigans, though, was a man of deep faith. Using puppets rather than a pulpit, he preached a message of inherent worth and unconditional lovability to young viewers, encouraging them to express their emotions with honesty. The effects were darn near supernatural.