Shepherding Women in Pain

Ministry Director, SMSC
Mary Margaret Gibson


Jesus established, through His ministry and words, a status and care for women that carried over through the early church and into our day.  We all have friends, family, and those we serve through ministry, who are facing serious, troubling issues in their lives. We’d like to be authentic and helpful in our love and service to them.  Bev Hislop’s book, Shepherding Women in Pain, provides practical resources to help women in pain.   Her book has a permanent home on my desk now.

Hislop has gathered true-life stories and professional advice from experts in the fields of depression, infertility, terminal illness, disabilities, chronic pain, aging, addiction, abortion recovery, eating disorders, incarceration, homelessness, suicide, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, divorce, spousal involvement in pornography, spiritual abuse, and same-sex attraction.  She has organized all the information about each area of pain into these useful categories:

  • Understand the Issue
  • Shepherding Insights—many include tables, charts, and lists such as the very helpful Characteristics of Effective Mentors and Topics Addressed by Effective Mentors
    • Helpful Things to Do
    • Unhelpful Things to Do
  • Resources—books, websites of organizations, informational sites, and referrals
  • Related Scriptures
  • The expert author’s bio

Hislop’s experts emphasize the necessity of a disciplined spiritual and prayer life for anyone trying to minister to another person, especially a person who is suffering, and the role of the Scripture in both support of the one in pain and the one who serves.  The end notes are excellent sources of more information.  I did wish for an index, because there are often areas of common support across various ministry areas and it would have been instructive to use an index to find those common themes.

Use Hislop’s book in any of the pastoral, counseling, family life, mercy, medical, and restorative justice ministries.  If you are a chaplain or if you lead a Sunday School class for adults, there are people in your group who hope you’ll keep this book handy.  If you are looking for a resource to put in the hands of a church pastor, women’s pastor, director of any women’s ministry, seminarian, or mentor—this is it!

This is a review of Shepherding Women in Pain, a book by Dr. Bev White Hislop, executive director of the Women’s Center for Ministry and associate professor of pastoral care to women at Western Seminary in Portland, OR. Published 2010 by Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL. A copy of this book was provided for review at our request.


Author Info:  Mary Margaret Gibson is the hands-on Ministry Director for Save the Mother, Save her Child, the evangelism training and equipping ministry of EvanTell for staff and volunteers of life ministries and pregnancy centers.

Sharing a Message of Grace

Guest Blogger
Elaine Ham, Plans For You
SMSC Master Instructor


This the first in a series of guest blogs focused on Evangelism Basic Training for pregnancy center staff and volunteers.  Our guest blogger today is Elaine Ham, a SMSC Master Instructor. She has trained hundreds of volunteers over the years and has over 16 years of experience in working with pregnancy centers. We couldn’t think of a better person to write about the fear of offending an abortion-minded client in sharing the gospel.

Every client advocate who has ever counseled in a pregnancy center knows the sudden rush of fear that envelops us when a young, single client learns she is pregnant. We ask a question such as, “What are your plans for your baby’s future?” and pray that whatever she says will not include the word “abortion.” The bad news is that her response almost always does include the “a” word, whether she’s just thinking about it or she has already made the decision to abort. As Paul said in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Without a relationship with Christ, neither we nor our clients will ever make Godly decisions.

The good news is that no matter what has happened in her past, God loves her unconditionally and showed that love by giving His Son to die on a cross for her so that her sins might be forgiven. But how do we go about sharing that without causing offense or watching her make a quick exit from the counseling room? We know the comfort she is seeking and the answers she needs are found only in the loving arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ; yet we also have another voice speaking into our ear telling us not to go there, she would probably say no or think we’re a religious fanatic.

When God called me into the pregnancy center ministry 16 years ago, I heard that same voice and felt those same insecurities. The difference between then and now is that I didn’t recognize the source of the voice, and I spent nearly a year running away from God’s call. Thanks to the wisdom of a Godly pastor, I finally understood that those discouraging thoughts were intended to distract me from hearing God’s voice and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with those in need of God’s Amazing Grace.

As a client advocate, you have experienced the forgiveness and all-consuming love of God that can only be received through believing in Christ alone for salvation. You are in the counseling room because God has placed you there for the purpose of sharing that message with broken women who are looking for answers. You have been given the privilege by God to deliver His message of grace to your client and to lead her into God’s presence. In so doing, you have also given her the comfort and hope she is really seeking that will allow her to choose life for her unborn child.

Where do you start? How about with these words?—“May I ask you a question? Has anyone ever taken a Bible and shown you how you can know for sure that you’re going to heaven? May I?” You will soon find you are in for the most exciting experience of your life. Hang on and watch God work.


Author Info:  Elaine Ham is a full-time on-site trainer and pregnancy resource center coach for the company she founded in 2000—Plans For You, Inc., creator of the Baby Bottle Boomerang. She has helped centers across the country raise over $75 million for their ministries. She also served as a PRC director and director of development at Piedmont Womens Center in Greenville, South Carolina for eight years and as National Consultant for the North American Mission Board/SBC and its 275 affiliates for seven years. Elaine is a SMSC Master Instructor for EvanTell/SMSC and a Licensed Life Affirming Specialist with Heartbeat International. Elaine Ham can be reached through her website,