Serving on a local mission field has compelled seminary student Kristen Bishop to look at the poor and needy from a new perspective.
“We have people who come in from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life, many addicted to drugs and alcohol, many who have gone through abusive relationships,” says Bishop, who serves at a local homeless shelter. Before she entered this ministry, Bishop confesses, she had stereotyped homeless people, as have many others.
“But hearing their stories,” Bishop says, “getting to know them, seeing how God has been working in each of their lives and calling them to him has really opened my eyes to how God loves people, and how God has a heart for those people.”
Ever since Bishop surrendered to the ministry as a teenager, she has had a heart for missions. During college, she served for a summer in Bangkok, Thailand, and since coming to Southwestern in 2008 she has participated in the seminary’s effort to take the Gospel to every home in a one-mile radius of the campus. She plans to graduate from the seminary with a counseling degree this December, and she hopes she will someday find a counseling position where she can fulfill the Great Commission. In the meantime, she has discovered a niche for sharing the Gospel with Fort Worth’s homeless.
“It is definitely a huge mission field,” Bishop says.
Working with the homeless does not only involve “meeting their physical needs, not just getting them an income or a house or food on the table.” It also involves them “getting down to the most important decision they’ll ever make in their lives.”
Bishop not only ministers to the homeless by counseling them individually, but she has also had the opportunity to speak during the women’s chapel at the shelter. Most often, she is asked to speak on short notice—45 minutes before chapel begins, or sometimes five minutes before, when the scheduled speaker has to cancel for one reason or another. The short notice, Bishop says, has challenged her to always be prepared to share the Gospel.
This opportunity has also opened doors for personal evangelism, answering questions and praying for the women at the shelter. On one occasion, a woman stopped Bishop on the sidewalk outside the chapel to ask her some questions. During their conversation, Bishop shared the Gospel with this woman, who hesitated to become a Christian. So Kristen gave her some material to read, and continually prayed for her.
One night, the woman came into Bishop’s office and closed the door behind her. Crying, she shared some struggles that she was facing, and Bishop again shared the Gospel with her. This time, the woman confessed her sins and her need for Christ.
“I was almost in tears because I had been praying for her for a while,” Bishop says. “I was completely excited. She was excited, scared, nervous, still had some questions about what it meant, but happy. … (Now) she is doing great. … It has been really exciting to see her growth.”
Bishop loves sharing the Gospel with the homeless women of Fort Worth, and she can think of no reason to give them food without giving the Good News.
“With what we know as Christians,” she asks, “how could you not (share the Gospel)? When I think about what an unbeliever is facing when they die and where they will go, it really tugs at my heart, and I don’t want that for anybody. So, knowing that and knowing what Christ can offer them, I want to share it.”