About Mary Ann
Mary Ann Bishop is a Bible teacher, an award-winning author, recording artist and conference speaker. In 1990, Mary Ann became the teaching leader of Bible Study Fellowship in Myrtle Beach, SC, serving the class 15 years. In 2006-2007, Mary Ann helped to launch the Community Bible Study class in Georgetown, SC, initially becoming the teaching director and later the area director for classes in North East, SC.
Because of her heart for expanding the cause of Christ through global missions, in 2000 she and her husband David established White Harvest Trading Company and White Harvest Foundation, located in Pawleys Island, SC. White Harvest ministries has provided business platforms for missionaries located in China, Vietnam, Laos and Turkey.
Mary Ann regularly travels to India with teams of women who train emerging church planters, pastors and leaders through the storytelling method set forth in her multi-volume curriculum series, Servants of the Most High God (2010), now published in 10 Indian languages. She has authored numerous resources of biblical characters now in use throughout the mission fields of South Asia. The Christian Author Awards sponsored by Xulon Press chose her book Jonah, God’s Reluctant Prophet as first place winner in the Bible Study Category. Her original book Servants of the Most High God, Volume 1 won an award in the Missions category.
Mary Ann earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Florida State University, both in music education. She has also completed coursework towards a Master in Divinity at Columbia International University. David and Mary Ann live in Pawleys Island, SC, and are the parents of two grown children and five well-loved grandchildren.
“Let us make earth a little less homelike and souls more precious. Jesus is coming again, and so soon! Will He find us really obeying His last command: Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all nations?” —Hudson Taylor
Gospel: The perfect life, atoning death, and resurrection of Jesus which is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16; Ephesians 1:13-14; Colossians 1:22-23; Romans 3:20).
Two thousand years ago, a small group of ordinary men and women turned our world upside down in a most extraordinary way. A movement began with only eleven followers of Jesus and grew to over 3,000 people in a single day. In the next 300 years, that movement multiplied to over 30,000,000 people. How in the world could something like this happen? The answer is simple. Ordinary people were obedient to the call of God to “Go!” Therefore, the obedience of the faithful who went coupled with the transforming power of the gospel message they shared became the formula—the dynamite (Greek: dunamis) that turned the world upside down (Acts 5:38-39)!
The last words of a dying man are vitally important and often convey impact, counsel, guidance or exhortation to the listener. In His final words before ascending into heaven, Jesus commanded His disciples, including you and me, to go with this transformational gospel message of truth, and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
This passage of Scripture is known in biblical circles as the Great Commission with the keyword being go—”Go to the nations . . .”
I first heard that keyword in a spiritual sense as a young teenage girl while attending a mission camp. The evening schedule included a vesper service as hundreds of campers sat together looking out over a beautiful lake setting at sunset listening to devotions and moving music. The very atmosphere was full of the sights, sounds and smells that gave concrete evidence of the presence of God in that place. Along with my earlier preparation through godly parents, a Bible- centered church, the beauty of the creation around me, and the power of the gospel truth spoken that night directly into my heart, I “heard” the voice of God say, “Go.” Something profound happened to me that special evening. God spoke to me—a teenage girl—and said, “Go! Go, Mary Ann! Go to the nations—go for me!”
Something happened deep within my heart that night. Not only did I “hear” the voice of God speaking, I also sensed the power of the Spirit of God nudge me to stand up for Jesus, walk forward and publicly commit my life to full-time Christian service. This was the calling of God upon my young life—God’s calling of me to His plans and His purposes. Of course at this time, I had no idea of the details of this calling or what it would look like or even where I would “go” to be in the place of God’s will. It would take years of further preparation before I would actually step into the plan God had ordained for my life. However, this sense of God speaking directly to me with that word “go” never left me. College and graduate school followed, then marriage and children, and slowly this unique and individualized plan of God began to emerge. His plan involved my most natural gift—teaching and later, writing.
Through the incredible providence of an all-knowing God, an amazing door of opportunity opened before me in which I began to teach women the Bible through an outstanding discipleship ministry called Bible Study Fellowship. God said, “Go;” therefore, I obeyed and was trained to bring this study back to my home city. For 15 years, I faithfully taught the Bible to hundreds of women, not realizing that this was only a stepping stone to yet greater opportunities God had in store for my life.
The words to the old hymn Trust and Obey come to mind as I think of my part in cooperating with God’s unfolding plan.
Trust and Obey
by John H. Sammis
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the job He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
This earthly life is not about me; it is about God using me to bring glory to Him. It is His plan and His purpose we each must find, and the path to finding His will is simply to trust and obey His voice (His Word) and to be faithful to do what He instructs.
Serving Jesus Overseas
Gradually, God began to show me my next steps which involved becoming a servant to the nations. After years of teaching the Word of God and taking advantage of the doors God opened to me, I found myself on the other side of the world teaching thousands of emerging church leaders the truth of the Bible that had so long been embedded in my heart.
It has been more than 20 years now since God opened the door to international missionary work for me. This is the plan and purpose God had in store for me all along, and it is through obedience and trust that I found my way into His path. He said, “Go! Go to my people—the Indian people—share the riches of my truth with those who still need to hear of Me!” With that same simple trust and obedience, I went each time the door opened. I went under all kinds of circumstances—through good times and through difficult times. God’s grace was always there to meet me at the point of my need. There was always far greater reward in going than any perceived sacrifice I made to go. There is no way to measure the impact this going has had upon my life. I can only bow in humility and thanksgiving, praising my God for allowing me to come alongside the emerging church leaders of North India and serve them over the last decade of my life. The simple obedience to go coupled with the transforming message of the gospel is still the key to changing our world just as it was in the days of the first-century church.
The Work Yet to Be Done
There is, however, much work still to accomplish. There are 7.8 billion people alive today on planet earth. Out of this vast number of people, there are 11,500 distinct people groups with 6,800 people groups still remaining unreached. (Unreached: those having limited access to the gospel.) Tragically, there are millions who have no access to the gospel (unengaged). The unengaged together along with those who have limited access bring the number of those still needing to hear to a staggering 3.78 billion people with most of them residing in North India. (Statistics from: I Am Going by Daniel L. Akin and Bruce Riley Ashford. Nashville, B&H Publishing Group, 2016).
It is mind-boggling to think that in our day, with all our resources, technology and wealth, there are still people throughout the world who have never heard the name of Jesus or received a clear presentation of the gospel message. These are the people—the nations—that Jesus had on His heart and in His mind when He spoke His last words, “Go! Go to the nations . . .” These are the men, women, boys and girls who will be born, live, die and go to hell without ever hearing the good news of salvation through Jesus if we do not obey His final marching orders to go! Jesus said of these who remain lost, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen (Israelites). I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16).
Make no mistake. There is an exclusivity about this gospel. Jesus stated this truth plainly in John 14:6 where He says, in no uncertain terms, that salvation is found only in Him. Peter in Acts 4:12 states this sobering truth as well, and also Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5 declares that there is one Savior, not many saviors, and that the one and only Savior is Jesus our Lord. Therefore, the Bible teaches that there is only one gospel, not many gospels, and the one and only gospel is the gospel of Jesus. This is the message the nations desperately need to hear, for this is the only message that has the power to change the world. Carl H. Henry, the great Baptist statesman and theologian said, “The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.” Missionary John Falconer declared, “I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light.” The nations are lands filled with darkness that desperately need the floodlight of the gospel. The gospel will never reach them unless God’s people “go with the good news!”
How Will You Go?
There is a life worth giving for the glory of God and for the gospel. It is a life of dying to self so that others might live. It is risking all for the sake of Christ and for the sake of others. It is not safe. However, it is God’s best plan for His servants, and it is worth it. Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” In other words, not every person will go to the nations, but every person has an important part in reaching the nations, and when you do your part, you are doing the work of missions. You are a missionary. You are obeying the Great Commission.
Because our prayers reach an omnipresent God, there are no geographical limits on their reach! Therefore, through prayer, we go. Through prayer, we can reach out and touch any and every people group on the planet. “Prayer is the mighty engine that moves missionary work” (A.B. Simpson). “Every step in the progress of missions is directly traceable to prayer.” We go to the nations by going into our prayer closet.
We can also go to the nations by giving. William Carey asked British Baptists in 1792 to “hold the ropes” as he went into the great darkness of India. They held the ropes, he went down, and the gospel invaded enemy territory to reclaim that which rightly belongs only to Jesus. We can all be “rope holders” through our giving—and through our giving, we go.
The gospel is the good news that Christ lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead to satisfy God’s wrathful judgment on the world. Because of Jesus’ payment in full of our debt, it is now possible for anyone to receive salvation through a living faith in Christ Jesus. Won’t you enter into this beautiful living relationship with Jesus? He was the Servant of God who came to bring freedom to the captive, sight to the blind, hope to the poor, help for the oppressed, and salvation to any and all who would simply believe the gospel and receive the free gift still available today.
Christ Who Transforms Us
There is an unspeakable joy in bringing this good news to those who have never heard. Nothing compares with this privilege God gives to His children. Jesus started this movement of transformation when He lived as a man on earth. He modeled for us exactly what it looks like to love God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves. We, His servants , are likewise to live as He lived, share this same message of hope and transformation as we go to the dark places of this world, and in doing so, have the incredible blessing of witnessing the miracle of transformation as one by one, people’s hearts are changed into the likeness of the Greatest Servant of all—Jesus of Nazareth, Savior of mankind, our Redeemer and Friend.
How vastly different my life would be had I refused to say “yes” to God’s calling to “Go!” I praise God for His relentless pursuit of me, His never-failing provision for me, and His great faithfulness toward me over the course of my life. To God be the Glory!
“Would that God would make hell so real to us that we cannot rest; heaven so real that we must have men there; Christ so real that our supreme motive and aim shall be to make the Man of Sorrows the Man of Joy by the conversion to Him of many concerning whom He prayed, ‘Father, I long that those whom thou has given Me will be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory.'” —Hudson Taylor