Christian Retailing

Passages store staff ministers with Spirit-led sensitivity Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Friday, 14 December 2012 03:22 PM America/New_York

SusanWilson-PassagesGateway Church bookstore team reads select books that aid in its ministry to customers

Passages Manager Susan Wilson and her team continue to meet the often critical needs of their customers. A jobless nurse whose husband had had an affair and an out-of-state pastor whose wife had left him are among those who recently walked into the store at the Southlake, Texas, campus of Gateway Church. 

To help prepare her staff for such encounters, Wilson selects a book about every two months that she believes would assist them in ministry. 

Each of the nine staff takes 20 minutes a day alone to read the book until they have all read it. Then, in a monthly newsletter, they share highlights of the book with the store’s volunteers.

“When we finish, we each write a paragraph or two describing how the book touched our lives or how the Holy Spirit spoke to us through the book,” Wilson said.

Some key titles staff members have read are How to Stop the Pain by Dr. James B. Richards (Whitaker House), The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson (Zondervan) and Greater by Steven Furtick (Multnomah Books).

A benevolence fund also is built into the budget, allowing staff to give products to any customer as they sense God’s leading.

“It’s not just about giving them that book and blessing them because they can’t afford it,” Wilson said. “It’s about listening to the Holy Spirit about what book to give, give it to maybe the richest person that lives in Southlake, Texas, just what he needs at that time to turn his life around.”

When the unemployed nurse came in, the first priority was “hugging her and telling her how much she was loved, that God loved her, that He knew this was going to happen before she ever knew about it, and He was going to be her support,” Wilson said.

After praying with her and taking her to the back of the bookstore where she could relax, a pastor was called to minister to her further and tell her about the church’s “freedom training.” The store also gave her some books and CDs. When she returned the next weekend, Wilson “didn’t even recognize her,” she said, noting the transformation that had taken place.

The pastor who came from out of state to visit the store was distraught that his wife had left him out of the blue. 

“He said the Holy Spirit had told him that morning to drive to Gateway Church and that he would receive healing,” Wilson said, sharing that he testified to that healing in a letter he later wrote to the store. 

“It’s phenomenal when, I guess, we’re God’s ‘yes’ people, and we’re His hands and His feet,” Wilson said.