Psalms 46:4 “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.”
The scientific word for the places where two bodies of water merge together is called a “confluence.” A confluence describes the way a smaller stream of water, or tributary, feeds into a larger stream, or river, known as the “main stem.” For example, the Ohio river is a tributary which flows into the larger Mississippi river.
At other times, a confluence can be the location where two smaller streams or rivers merge to become the source of a new river. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for example, the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers merge to create the Ohio river.
As Thanksgiving approaches, it is evident to us that Mission Arlington® is at the end of a “confluence of good will” which flows as a resource to meet the physical needs of people on Thanksgiving day. Working together as a community, as is evident here, supplies a type of synergistic energy, such that the end result is bigger than the individual input of each part.
We are watching it happen every day, all across our community. One post on our Facebook about a need for turkeys was shared by viewers 372 times, going to 22,831 people. Off Facebook, those people share with others, and also many people began to pray. In a span of one week’s time, we went from about 800 turkeys to 6,000. This isn’t humanly possible, but it happened.
In this past week, we have seen people purchase turkeys, then contact others to drive them down. Some, as they have purchased turkeys, decided to add water and chips and other Thanksgiving food. Volunteers who have been here through the years continue to come back, knowing that their help is crucial, but they have also spread the word out, using their influence to bring others with them. As a result, hundreds of people have been here every day, as a mighty force, lifting the load. We are humbled, and amazed.
“Come thou Fount of Every Blessing” is a hymn written by the 18th century pastor and and song-writer Robert Robinson who penned these words in 1757 at the age of 22. There is a line to the lyrics in this great hymn which mentions “streams of mercy never ceasing,” referencing the ever-flowing love of God. As your gifts flow into and through our place, we see the way God uses those gifts to provide strength, hope, and even revival, to individuals and families all across our community. The most abiding image of Thanksgiving for some of us is the one of families at their own kitchen table, surrounded by loved ones, giving thanks to God.
Only He could have put all of this together. No amount of energy or marketing could have resourced this work, nor turned the physical gifts of a Thanksgiving meal into a stream of help into hope for real people in need. Truly, from all of us, this calls for “songs of loudest praise.”
We are grateful for you. All glory to God!
Covered with Prayer
An important and deeply-held belief which permeates the Mission Arlington® family is that our place “runs on the prayers of the people.” We believe that we are “over our heads” when it comes to the tasks at hand, and especially when it comes to providing authentic help that people need. We have family gatherings six days each week to hear a devotional based on Scripture, to worship, and then to pray. We have prayer partners, and we stop every day at 10:00 a.m. to pray for individual congregations and the work of Mission Arlington® in general. We have asked all who love and support this place to join us every day at 10. Our conviction is that
Mission Arlington® belongs to God. This isn’t our story, but His. He had plans in place for this Ministry and for all who work here long before it happened. He started this mission, sustains us moment by moment, and He holds our future in His hands. (Link here)
Our heart has been to trust God for his provisions, and not to superimpose modern corporate strategies onto our work. For this reason, we don’t have full-time grant writers or marketing campaigns or fund raisers. (See more about our approach here.) We have invited people to join us daily in prayer for this place, and we have committed to leave our work in his hands, which is where we believe that it belongs. For nearly thirty years, we have been surrounded by and covered with the prayers of the people.
Lifted by Love
Yet, without organized strategies or marketing campaigns, this community has risen up to support this important work, all without anyone having a need to bring attention or credit to themselves. Independently of us, and with the force of strong convictions – individuals, families, civic groups, corporations, schools, churches, and so many more are out in force collecting food for Thanksgiving, or here giving their time so that other people in a moment of need can be ok.
Often, we don’t even know that people are giving like that until they show up on our doorstep with car or truck-loads full of food. They spend their money. They spend their energy. They give their time, and use their personal influence with others to collect what someone else needs – people that they don’t even know. We are honored, amazed, humbled, and brought to tears by what we see each and every day. The generosity of this beautiful community overwhelms us.
Thanks to each of you who pray for us and this ministry. Thanks to each of you who give in multiple ways to help us help others. We truly are covered with prayer and lifted by love, and we couldn’t do it any other way.
To God be the Glory!
It is a quiet Sunday morning at Mission Arlington®, as Sunday mornings usually are. The crowded streets you can see in the picture to the left are now empty. The Mission family is out across the community teaching the Bible in 349 locations today, so the offices downtown are calm. These peaceful mornings often follow beautiful, but busy Saturdays. Yesterday was no exception.
A Reflection of our Community
Over a thousand volunteers poured into downtown Arlington yesterday to help us get ready for Thanksgiving day. As the community lends its shoulder to our wheel, the beautiful observation to make is that it is also the very same community which first provided the food. Not only do you give it, so that we can give it away, but you help us get it ready too. Our story here is also your story. We can help so many, because you make it possible. Truly we are “twice-blessed” – once when we receive it from you, and once when we give it away to people in need. Thanks to each of you who pray, give, and help. Your support means so much.
How does it work? A common question people ask is “how so much food gets put together for Thanksgiving Day?” Our first answer is that whatever good happen here only does so by God’s Grace. That’s the plain and unmistakable truth about this place. We could never do this on our own. However, since so many of you have been involved in helping, we thought we would share with you a little bit about the process.
How food is put together for Thanksgiving
Sorting Donated Food: For the most part, when people give food, it is unsorted. This is especially true when the food comes in through a drive of some kind. First, food has to be sorted into “like kind.” All the green beans, corn, etc. are put together in their own box. Yesterday, the YMCA Arlington hosted their annual Father/Child volunteer day. Food Sorting was their task. More than 100 parents and their children came to sort the food. Mission Arlington® clears a parking lot, and puts up tables shaped to form a large “U.”
Unsorted food is moved across the lot into boxes which are individually labeled. By the time two other groups joined (Burgin Elementary School and Dallas Baptist University Students), this huge team had sorted thousands of pounds of food. They also filled two box trucks full of Thanksgiving food. This Thanksgiving food was then taken to another place on the Mission Arlington® campus to go through another process.
Building of Boxes: After food is sorted, it is moved to a separate location. Groups set up an assembly line where the boxes are filled with Thanksgiving food, everything a family needs (besides the turkey) for a Thanksgiving Day meal. The turkey will be added to the box on Thanksgiving morning. Yesterday, due to the volume of help, we were able to put together hundreds of Thanksgiving boxes.
We could only do this, because of the generosity of the people who gave the food, and because of the multitude of people who came to sort and organize the food. We were tired when we went home last night, but it was the “good kind of tired.” The community support was truly satisfying in the deepest of ways. Each of us went home to “thank God for his provisions and for you.”
Food for the soul
As with everything we do, our heart is to connect people to the Lord. Food lasts for a moment, but a relationship with Christ is eternal. Our prayer and hope is that the work we do together on Thanksgiving Day will have lasting results. Thank you so much
You can make a difference!
You hear people talk about “total commitment” in a variety of ways. People will say, for example, “I’m all in,” when talking about their desire to reach a deeper level of commitment to something important in their world. Or, they might say, “I’m all ears,” meaning that someone is giving you their complete attention. We have various ways of saying that we are going to do something “with our whole heart.”
The mission family’s total commitment
On the way out of the mission offices last week, one of our Bible study leaders was talking about their efforts to make sure that everyone in her area who needed it, would receive a Thanksgiving meal from Mission Arlington®. Her comment was that she and her team were going “the whole nine yards.” Their intent was to make sure no one was missed, and they were fully committed to talking with every household in the neighborhoods right around the church.
However, when this Bible study leader stopped to explain, it was clear that her comment meant more than just “every household.” Her desire was to have genuine conversations with each family she met, to ask them about their prayer needs, and to pray with them before she left. The reminder for all of us that day was that Mission Arlington® has always been a “ministry of ones.” In the next few days, you will hear that God has provided for large numbers of people leading up to and on Thanksgiving day, and it will be true. As important to us, though, isn’t the large numbers, but that each life receives personal attention and care. We want to go the “whole nine yards.”
The commitment of the community
Yet, there is another way of looking at this, because it isn’t just the Mission staff and/or family that feels this way – but it is also the heartbeat of our community. As this day unfolds, 1,000 people will come with their family or a team of some kind to help us prepare for Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day, it will take 6,000 volunteers to help us deliver Thanksgiving food to 23,000 people. Why would people give up their Saturday to serve, and why would so many people make their way throughout the city on Thanksgiving day when they could easily stay at home with their own families. The answer is that this generous, giving community has always gone “the whole nine yards.”
Because you give the turkeys and the Thanksgiving food, we can give it away. Because you come throughout the month of November to serve – even on Saturdays – we can have the food ready to go out on Thanksgiving morning (It takes multiple sorting processes to get it ready). Because you come and bring yourself, your family, and/or your team, we have an army in place to deliver the food to people. We are truly thankful for you throughout this season of Thanksgiving.
A commitment to authentic help and hope
Yet, there is one more part to this work. People who receive not just the food, but the hugs and the kind words from you when you deliver it find their physical needs met for the moment. They are able to eat Thanksgiving food with their own families around their own kitchen table, and no one ever has to know that the food came from us. Our hope and prayer, however, is that your hard work to make Thanksgiving work in people’s lives meets more than just a physical need. Our prayer is that it lifts the hearts, treating people with dignity and respect, so that they feel genuinely cared for. Even further, our desire is that through this kind of love and help, that people will see Christ himself among the crowd. We hope this for those of us delivering the food, and we hope this for those who receive it. It’s more than just food on Thanksgiving day. We want to go “the whole nine yards.”
To God be the Glory! We are grateful for you.
Today is veterans day, a day to remember those who served in all branches of the military to defend our country. Since 1776, 48 million Americans have served in the armed forces. Many of us across our community have people close to us who served. Some gave their lives, making the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The University of Texas at Arlington, our neighbor, has a full day of events happening, designed to honor military men and women, starting with a 6:30 a.m. reveille, an 11:00 a.m. dedication of the newly remodeled Vet Lounge, and a 2 p.m. address by UTA’s President Vistasp Krbhari and State Senator Konni Burton at a reception for UTA veteran students. Other events are happening across our community as well.
Veterans day is a special day here at the mission. Many from the family of volunteers and staff here have loved ones who either are serving currently or have served in our military.
On Veterans day, we want you to know that all of our services and ministries will be in operation. We are grateful for all those who will take the day off tomorrow to honor our veterans. Our privilege on this day is to “stand in the gap” for those in need, so that families in our community can receive help.
Many in the community are mobilizing today to help us help others. For example, UTA’s Sigma Gamma Rho’s Sorority is hosting an event at UTA. Admission to the event is “free to all students with a canned good” which the Sorority will in turn donate to Mission Arlington®.
You can help at Mission Arlington® today!
- If you are free to lend a hand today, why not come downtown to spend a few hours serving with us? We’ll be here from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. We could use the help, and it would be a blessing all around to “shoulder the load” together. Plus, working here is just plain fun.
- Or, if you can bring by some Thanksgiving food (or other donations)as you are out running errands, that would be great too.
- If you can’t come down to help in some way, then some might want to give a little to help others.
- Others may just want to take some time on this day to pray, a great gift for our work.
At Mission Arlington® we also honor Jesus Christ on this day who gave his life on the cross more than 2,000 years ago, so that all men could have peace with God. On this special day, we are reminded of Christ’s words in the Gospel of John: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).
Thank you for all you do to make a difference in our community. We are blessed today as we honor veterans by serving alongside you. We are a grateful people.
As the Summer ends and the Fall begins, Mission Arlington® looks towards the start up of after school programs (in 40+ locations), the transportation of children to and from school, and the kickoff our new and growing sports (baseball and wrestling) leagues. Our first big event for the fall was our large, free Fall festival which happens on or around Halloween each year. The festival was a huge success again this year, drawing 3,000 children (with their families), more than ever before.
As the Festival concluded last week, however, the full attention of the Mission Arlington® family pivots to the holiday season – Thanksgiving and Christmas. The truth is that we work on the these two holidays all year long. (For example, we begin collecting, separating, and sorting Thanksgiving food each year on the day after Thanksgiving. In the same way, we begin preparing for Christmas on December 26th.) Having said that, we have now “turned the corner” and “shifted into a higher gear.” It is “full speed ahead” as we head into the holidays. You can sense the excitement all around as we move into this final season of the year. It truly is, as the Andy Williams Christmas song declares: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
We begin this season of Thanksgiving each year by being thankful for you. Because you give, and because you volunteer, and because so many of you pray, we can be here to help, and we can have food to give away on Thanksgiving day and toys for Christmas morning. This week, among many other conversations and encounters, we spoke to a man whose job had downsized the hours he could work. He was trying to make ends meet. He was working hard not to ask for help, and wanting to do things right, yet he had not eaten in three days. He also didn’t have money to buy laundry detergent. What a blessing it was for us – on your behalf – to provide the food and the detergent he needed for that moment. We were also able to pray for him, and we will continue to stay close.
Already, so many of you have been having food drives – as individuals, as families, as different groups from all over the community. Others have come to help sort and separate the food, or the Christmas toys. Pictured with this article are a group of students from the Arlington Collegiate High school. A hundred of them came last week to organize books for the Fall festival, and to get food into position for Thanksgiving morning. Texas Health Resources groups have been coming to help, and student groups, church groups, and teams of all shapes and sizes have been here to make a difference – all so that someone who is less fortunate will have the provisions they need for their family.
We are grateful every day to be part of such a generous, caring community of people. We thank God for you, and for the privilege we have of serving along side of you every day. As we have turned the corner towards the holidays, and year’s end, may God provide the wind beneath our wings. May he use each of us to support those in our community who just need a little extra help to get by.
Seventy-eight (78) year old Josefina, or “Tata” as she is known to her friends, started coming to our medical clinic two years ago. Originally from Columbia, single, never married, and without children, Tata worked with other people’s children as a Nanny. Along the way, she developed beautiful friendships and a sense of family with several people. One of those was Julie who began bringing Tata to our clinic.
Among the normal aches and pains, Tata was treated for blood pressure issues, sinus problems, cat scratches, and pain in her knees, leg, and back. Every medical need was met at no charge through the volunteer doctors at Mission Arlington®, and people began to enjoy her visits. Tata was one of those people whose smile brightened up a room.
The back pain did not go away, however, and so the mission team began to work on other options. Her pain had become unbearable. She couldn’t work, couldn’t sit, walk, or stand without excruciating pain. Something needed to be done, but there was no insurance, no funds, and no options.
The team at Mission Arlington’s clinic referred Tata to Arlington Orthopedic Associates, P.A where she received spinal injections for free, treated by Dr. Eric Wieser. After some time, Tata and her doctors began to feel like she was a good candidate for surgery, so they joined with the good folks at the Baylor Orthopedic Spine Hospital in Arlington, where a surgery which would have cost $120,000 was provided for a minimum charge of $2,000, half of which could be paid out over time. On Monday, October 19th, the medical team performed major medical surgery on Tata’s back and spine, providing her the relief and healing she needed.
Tata’s friend Julie thanked Mission Arlington’s medical clinic staff, Andrea and Jean, for always being so “special and kind” to Ms. Tata, and she is so humbled by the care she received by each and every doctor, nurse and member of the medical teams in each place she received treatment.
The Mission Arlington® family is so grateful today for the kind and generous community in which we serve. Because you give, we are able to have a medical clinic free of charge for the people. More than 700 patients each month come through the clinic’s front doors. We are also grateful for the partnerships with the medical community, and the way they respond to provide health care for the Ms. Tata’s of our world.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
By 7:00 this morning, volunteers are already checking in to serve. They will drive out to grocery stores and bakeries to pick up food ready to be given to people in need. We are amazed as we think about people who would take their time to prepare that food for us, who have the hearts to give out of their own surpluses to help someone else, and for people who would get up so early on a Saturday morning to make a blessing possible for someone else.
Volunteers and staff have been busy getting ready for a huge Fall Festival, one of our favorite events of the year. Huge bouncy houses, a gym full of carnival games, free food, a tractor-driven hay ride are all prepared for children and families. Our heart and hope is that children will have the kind of fun on this day that they remember for ever, and that moms and dads with young children will enjoy this a safe place for their kids to play, have fun, and to be cherished by the Mission Arlington family. One of the greatest blessings for us is to be able to provide this Festival today absolutely free of charge. Even the food is free.
The rain has been steadily falling on Friday, and through the night into Saturday morning. What a blessing the rain has been. As it clears off this morning, we want you to know that the Fall Festival will be fully up and running, ready for the children and their families. The Festival happens from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m., and it is located in the center of the city, near the corner of Fielder Rd. and 303. The physical location is 1514 Cherry Dr., Arlington, 76013. It is going to be a great day.
At the same time that our huge festival is happening, people going through a moment of crisis will be able to come and receive food, or help with rent and utility bills. When they come in to Mission Arlington, they will be cared for. Our heart here is so much more than about just handing out stuff. Anyone can do that. We want to look people in the eyes, and to help them know that every life matters to God. It has always been important to us to treat people with dignity and respect. What an incredible privilege it is to share with others the very same love we have received from God.
Out back, our trucks will be moving through the community and returning to drop off the very clothing, food, and furniture that each of you provide for people in need. We will pick up from over 100 locations today. We pray that as you give, you will have a real sense about how your gift lifts the life of real people. We never sell anything you give. You give it, and we give it away. By the day’s end, your gifts of love will be in the homes of people who needed the help and the hope that your gift provides.
All in all, our desire is to glorify the Lord in and through this place. We have a song that we sing occasionally around here titled “It’s a great day to serve the Lord.” Somehow, I can’t quite get that song out of my head this morning. Rain or shine, serving God, and loving people going through difficult times truly makes this a great day.
Thank you so much for the privilege we have of serving alongside each of you. Your prayers, your help, and your financial support make the difference here.
To God be the glory!
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
We hope most everyone knows of Mission Arlington®‘s investment in the children of our community. Whether it is “bouncy houses” for the children to enjoy on “National Night Out,” or baseball camps, teaching children the fundamentals of the game, or the transportation of students to and from school, or helping children to discover healthy eating habits, or reading programs, or school supplies, the Mission Arlington® family “loves to love” children.
Add to that, the holiday season coming up – with our Fall Festival, food for Thanksgiving, and Christmas gifts for more than 32,000 children year after year, or the huge Easter experience provided for children, it isn’t hard to see how much love and practical help comes from you, through us, and straight to children in need.
Watching children “light up” when they don’t have to sleep on the floor anymore, or when they have the food they need to eat a meal at home, or when they have the same school supplies to start the school year just like everyone else – is worth so very much to us, and we know it is important to you as well. We also know that this pleases our Lord who encouraged his followers routinely to care for children (Matthew 19:14).
On the other hand, it isn’t just that the children are recipients of your gifts through Mission Arlington®, but they are also the givers. All year long, we are the recipients of the kind-hearted, sincere gifts of children. They collect food from their neighborhoods and families; they ask their friends to give birthday gifts to other children through the mission instead of having a birthday party, and they volunteer in huge numbers, giving of their time and energy to make a difference here. Every week, without exception, children are here lending a hand.
Sometimes they come with their parents; other times they come with a group of some kind, such as their church, scouting organization, or with their school. When they come to serve, we are able to provide activities and tasks which fit their giftedness, age, and ability. We value watching families and various organizations who develop character in their kids, letting them invest in their world, and giving them the opportunity to make a difference too.
On Thanksgiving day every year, for example, several hundred children volunteer with their families. The parents tell us that they want their children 1) to know how to work, and 2) to see that they can make a difference, no matter their age, and finally (3) to see that other children don’t have what they have. These parents tell us after a day of service on Thanksgiving morning, the children go home to have the best Thanksgiving meal of their young lives.
Mission Arlington® loves to work with children. We thank God every day for the privilege we have of serving alongside each of you, perhaps the most generous community anywhere. We appreciate the privilege of caring for and serving with the children here.
Glory be to God!
Columbus day celebrates the anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas on October 12th, 1492. Columbus day became an official federal holiday in the United States in 1937. Since 1970, the holiday has been connected to the second Monday in October.
In our community, while the banks, federal agencies, and other businesses are closed, the schools are open, and Mission Arlington® is open for business as well. People express their support for this day as a “day of service,” using their time and talents to make a difference in people’s lives all across our community.
Before 8 a.m. this morning, students were already waiting at the mission, ready to give their day in service and support. Several student groups, churches, individuals, and families are here today, helping us, and taking care of the people.
We are grateful for the privilege we have of being open today, and of serving our community. The only day Mission Arlington® closes each year is Christmas Day.
Student groups today are helping us organize, sort, and move donated food into position for Thanksgiving, among so many other tasks we needed help with today.
We are grateful for the constant, faithful, support of our community. Together, we can make a difference.