Students embrace local Latino mall

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Despite a rudimentary knowledge of the Spanish language, Master of Divinity student Will Wright has a burden to reach men, women and children with the Gospel at a Latino mall only two miles from the seminary. Wright and others have consistently visited the mall since fall 2010.
 
Wright says the Lord impressed the mall on his heart with a focus on building relationships with store owners, employees and customers.
 
“There’s such a huge gathering of people at the mall and the (nearby) bus stop,” Wright says. “There are always people there, and they don’t really have a pressing schedule. I found that people there are a lot more approachable.”
 
His approach is simple: he initiates a conversation with people he finds sitting or eating in the mall’s food court and asks them a general question in English. Those who can speak English will generally respond in English, so he follows up by asking if they have ever heard of the seminary. He then segues into his personal testimony and a Gospel presentation.
 
Wright says the majority of people are receptive to the Gospel. He finds that many have Catholic backgrounds and do not understand salvation by grace. Ongoing conversations with shop owners and employees provide avenues for explaining the Gospel and further discipleship.
 
“I don’t want to be a gun-toting, Bible-beating guy who is all evangelism without discipleship,” Wright says. “But I’ve also seen the pitfalls of relationship-driven evangelism where you never really pull the trigger. I think there is an unbelievable opportunity in (the mall). There’s a huge concentration of people who don’t know Jesus.”
 
Ultimately, Wright sees this mall-shaped mission field as a place ripe for church planting. He has developed relationships with several influential shop owners and has even discussed starting English classes on site.
 
“I would love to see a church start in the mall,” Wright says. “They have a place for it. The crowds are there on Saturdays and Sundays. I think there is an unbelievable opportunity for those people to have a place in the mall to worship.”
 
Still, Wright admits some days prove more challenging than others. Some days he feels his efforts are unfruitful. Some days he would rather stay home. Yet, he remains faithful to the Lord’s prompting.
 
“God’s been so faithful in my life to continue to give me small winds,” Wright says. “I don’t know why I’m going. I don’t know what God’s trying to do there. I’m going to pray for big things to happen, and if they don’t, I still want to be found faithful.
 
“I believe the Lord has placed the mall on my heart. There are plenty of days I don’t want to go, or when I go I don’t want to say anything to anybody. But I just continue to remind myself that all I need to do is show up, and He’ll do the rest.”

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