Students, faculty share the Gospel to marginalized groups in Boston
During the week of Sept. 30-Oct. 6, a group of six students and one faculty member from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, to share the Gospel with people in the city and learn from the SEND Relief staff at the Boston Ministry Center about how they can mobilize different congregations to share the Gospel.
The group of students, led by Ashley Allen, assistant professor of women’s ministries at Southwestern Seminary, helped support ongoing ministries in the city of Boston. Throughout the trip, they were able to meet the physical needs of part of the population experiencing homelessness as well as share the Gospel with them. Additionally, the team was able to spend time ministering to immigrants.
“The demographics of people are definitely different,” said Alexis Smith*, a Master of Divinity student from Malaysia. “There is a large population of internationals who study in Boston. So, there’s absolutely a need for Christians who speak different languages to be there.”
During the trip, the students were able to assist with the three key initiatives of the Boston Ministry Center, including outreach to those experiencing homelessness, those who have been rescued from human trafficking, and immigrants.
“It’s cool to see how ministries come together under one roof,” said Smith. “Different ministries focused on biblical counseling, people experiencing homelessness or substance abuse, human trafficking, ESL, Gensend, and refugees share the same office space.”
Another student, Cristina Aguilera, a Doctor of Education student from Colombia, said that if she had to sum the trip up in one word, that word would be “collaboration.”
“No single congregation can reach the city for the Lord,” Aguilera said. “It takes the whole body of Christ to do it, and it looks like this is what is happening in Boston.”
With several ministries working together, the team engaged in ministry to homeless and worked with an ESL class.
“We went out to the streets and started conversations with people experiencing homelessness,” Aguilera said. “We prepared and gave out sandwiches and wellness bags.”
Aguilera added that “there is hope” for Boston “because the church is being mobilized to reach the city.”
Stephen Thomas*, a Doctor of Philosophy student from South Korea, said that he realized that ministry could look different in different settings.
“I thought listening to their story or being a friend with them was not a ministry because I did not share the Gospel to them,” said Thomas. “However, I realized that this is a ministry. Homeless people need a friend.”
He added that doing this type of ministry reflected the way Jesus interacted with those who were marginalized in His day.
Some of the things the group was able to do with the homeless community in Boston was provide wellness bags and food for the people. After providing the people with essential needs, the mission team worked alongside the staff of the Boston Ministry Center to follow up by offering prayer and sharing the Gospel with them.
One of the difficulties of the homeless in Boston is that many are drug abusers.
“We visited what is known as the ‘Methadone Mile’ where many people trapped in substance abuse live or spend their time,” Aguilera explained. “Almost all the people we interacted with were actively using drugs, but we could talk to some of them and pray for some of them.”
Aguilera said that the churches are hopeful for an awakening in the lives of those affected by drug use.
“The good news is that different congregations are visiting this street and calling it the ‘Miracle Mile’ because they are praying and hoping for a miracle,” Aguilera added.
One day, the team worked with the Geneva Initiative, a leg of the Boston ministry center that works with refugees. Carlee Evans, a compassion ministry catalyst with the North American Mission Board, teaches ESL classes for two hours a day, three days a week.
Allen walked with a man from Central Asia named Abdul during the ESL class’s field trip to see the Paul Revere statue in Boston’s historic North End. Allen was able to share the Gospel with Abdul and “tell him what a Bible is. I was able to tell him about how the Bible is the entire redemptive story about how God sent Jesus to the earth.”
Allen added that it was “great to see how God was at work in Boston” and that she enjoyed being able to continue the work “that is already being done in Boston.”
*Names changed for security reasons