Though we set aside food for Thanksgiving Day deliveries all year long, the efforts to prepare for the holiday truly ramps up in November. If you come by Mission Arlington® anytime this month, you will see a “front room” full of people signing their families up to receive food on Thanksgiving day. Out back you will see people dropping off turkeys and other Thanksgiving food – while other volunteers help unload it and place it in freezers.
If you were to drive by our place this past Saturday, you would have seen an amazing food sorting process in motion. Teams of people from every age group (young to old) were separating food into like kind (boxes of corn, green beans, etc.). You would see another group taking the sorted food and building boxes filled with assortments of that food which will go with a family’s turkey on Thanksgiving day. More than 2,200 boxes were built by these teams this past Saturday.
We are so honored to be a partner with this community in providing food for families in need during an important holiday. On Thanksgiving morning, with the help of so many generous volunteers, we hope to provide food to more than 6,000 families again this year. We love how the Lord brings all of this together, and we are so thankful for each one of you who pray, give, and help during these days.
Please come see us when you can, and join the fun!
Tori grew up at Mission Arlington®. She attended Grace Street Fellowship, a Mission congregation, and her mother has been involved in many capacities for all those years.
Last spring, Tori graduated from Arlington High School, and, after applying for work at a few places, she realized Mission Arlington® was the perfect fit. She started full time this summer doing clerical work and Bible Studies every afternoon in Grand Prairie.
Toni, Tori’s partner in Grand Prairie, has nothing but praise for Tori and the good work God is doing in that city. Toni says, “I prayed for helpers, and God provided a young lady from among our own kids! …She uses her energy, creativity, compassion and servant’s heart to work beside me in Grand Prairie! God exceeded my expectations when He called her to the ‘mission field next door.’”
Tori says, “I love teaching. That’s something I wanted to do regardless of where I was working.” She teaches on Sundays and helps plan crafts and activities for their weekly meetings. Toni is great at listening to Tori’s ideas, and they work together well.
Since coming to Mission Arlington® to work, Tori says she has learned to “put everything in God’s hands. After I did that…everything was much more peaceful.”
When Tillie Burgin returned from Korea, a woman named Doris who she did not know approached her saying, “I’ve been praying for you.” This began a decades-long friendship that continues to this day.
Doris has volunteered at Mission Arlington in countless ways. From clerical work to cleaning the kitchen, she has been a familiar sight around the office for many years. She also serves on the Mission Metroplex Board of Directors.
The position most important to her, though, is the time she spent teaching the ladies’ Bible Study at South Street Church. She guided the women that she taught to follow God. They love her so much, although she no longer teacher that class, the women still love her and ask about her.
Doris loves telling people about the Lord. She once found, while proofreading a Mission Arlington publication, someone had written the phrase, “a chance to tell people about Jesus.” She suggested a word change, explaining it was not by a lucky “chance,” but telling people about Jesus is always an “opportunity.” She takes these opportunities seriously because of her deep love for her Savior. She wants everyone to know him the way she knows him.
We are thankful to God for sending this beautiful woman to teach us all how to love the Lord and serve people. Doris is a blessing.
Originally published Feb 5th, 2015.
Cesar grew up around Mission Arlington as part of Heritage Church. Read more about his early years here.
Around a year and a half ago, Cesar felt God leading him out of the comfort zone of the church family he had always known into East Arlington. He called it his “mission trip to the city” and now it’s just his way of life. He now serves at a house church on Claudia Street and an apartment complex nearby.
The apartment Bible Study meets outdoors twice per week. To reach more people and have more time to teach, Cesar splits the adults and children into different study times. First the children learn while the parents cook dinner or drive home from work. Then the parents meet while the children play at the playground nearby.
As the sun sets, the parents walk from all over, bringing their Bibles, songbooks, tambourines, and some babies in strollers. Cesar finishes passing out snacks to the children, with the help of a few volunteer teenagers from a different Mission Arlington Bible Study, and walks over with his cajon drum to sing with the women. One woman picks up her tambourine and songbook and leads everyone in praise and worship songs. More women gather singing on their way. No doubt friends in the neighboring buildings enjoy the beautiful music floating into their windows.
Then they pray and study the Bible together. Cesar knows the Bible and has much to share.
When church time is over, it’s not really over. These ladies have an ongoing group text that they use throughout the week to remember what they learned, to encourage each other, and to make everyone aware of needs in their community. With nearly constant communication, they are building a church built on Acts 2: sharing their resources and helping each other.
What a blessing to be part of this growing church and to see what can happen when people follow God’s call.
Twenty-three years ago, Marne agreed to substitute for a friend’s Mission Arlington Bible study while the friend was out of town. It only took one week for Marne to fall in love with the people and the ministry.
Since then, Marne has worked in many facets of Mission Arlington: child care, community service, transportation, and in many apartment complexes. She now works with a team of volunteers, many of whom she met and taught in Bible Studies over the years, leading many small churches around Arlington: several in East Arlington and two in retirement communities.
Their team is small but makes a big impact. In places where only one person is available to lead a Bible Study, it would be easy to say there is not enough help and stop going. Instead, they find a teenager or another adult within that community to be an assistant. Marne says, “we don’t want to give up anything.”
At one of the retirement centers, there is one 84-year-old woman, Darlene, who Marne calls “our head deacon.” Upon moving to the center four years ago, she came to the Mission Arlington church service and cried every Sunday. The woman later explained she had not been in church or sung in 50 years, and the words “would not come out.” To be home in the Lord’s presence again made her overwhelmed. Marne says it’s been a joy to see her come back, grow, and love the Lord. Now Darlene leads the morning prayer on Sundays and visits with other residents to pray during the week.
One of the greatest joys in the retirement centers is seeing people come back to God. Marne says Mission Arlington being in the community gives the people another opportunity “to reconnect with the Father and have a renewal of their spiritual life, and it’s amazing.”
Marne and her team feel blessed to be allowed to share God’s love with this special group of people.
During many road trips in west Texas, Larry would stop to visit with a good friend’s parents, Mary and Hollis. They would talk and Mary would always cook lunch for her guest. Every time he visited, Larry noticed that, although the only people in the home were Mary, Hollis, and Larry, his host always put out four place settings and cooked enough to generously feed four people. Finally, Larry asked the reason for the extra plate. Mary explained that her father taught her to always make a place at the table for the unexpected guest.
Thirty years later, on another trip through west Texas, God impressed upon Larry’s heart, “I want you to make a place at the table for hungry women…” And Mary’s Table was born.
In conjunction with Larry and his wife, Shawna’s, ministry, Baptist Center for Global Concerns, Mission Arlington® sends a different group of women to Mary’s Table once per quarter. The women experience a morning of food, fellowship, and God’s love.
Shawna demonstrates several healthy recipes that are easy on a budget. Many volunteers help cook and minister to the group. They study the Bible, and the women are encouraged that, even if they only have two cans of beans, they have enough to share with their neighbors. To finish, each woman leaves with a week’s worth of groceries at no cost.
Most of the Mary’s Table volunteers are former participants. They took to heart what the said about sharing and share their time and skills with women in need.
One participant said, “I want to go home, come back and give.” She came back with $300 she had been saving as a tithe. One woman came back, crying, to say thank you for the butter in her grocery bag. Her husband had been asking for butter and they had not had enough money to buy any. The volunteers were crying, too. Larry says, “We literally love what we do. All of us leave thinking, ‘God really helped me to grow today.’
“The point is for Christ to be real, not only in the act of serving, but he serves us through those we are serving. That’s part of the extraordinary gift that Mary’s table is.” There’s room for everyone at Mary’s Table.
Many years ago, when Glenn and Sherri’s daughter moved from Missouri to Texas, God impressed on their hearts that they would end up in Texas someday. Ten years ago, God brought their family to Texas. Glenn says, “It changed our lives. The Mission did. God did.”
They had gone to church all their lives and taught Sunday School. But coming to Texas, Glenn says they “got a different perspective on what God was really doing.” Sherri adds, “We knew about church without the walls, and we appreciated it. But we had never been part of it.”
The couple started at Grace Street Fellowship and since then they have ministered at a number of retirement communities in Arlington, moving as God directed.
Sherri says, “It’s, no doubt, what we love to do.”
For about a year, they have taught on Sunday mornings and Wednesdays at Arlington Plaza, a retirement community in west Arlington. The church is growing. Recently, they had to move out of the chapel into the larger activity room. They strive to make friends with the residents through conversations, hosting activities and then presenting the gospel. Even some people who won’t come into the Bible study will sit at the door and hear the message that way. Sherri says they will do “whatever we have to do for them to hear the Word.”
No matter what, they make sure the people know that salvation comes through grace and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Every time and always they teach the plan of salvation.
Glenn drives the shuttle bus for the center 4 days per week, usually with Sherri riding along, and builds relationships while carrying people to their doctor’s appointments, grocery store, and other places. “It’s the perfect opportunity,” Glenn says, “we know nearly everybody.”
Last month, the team hosted a revival for the residents. Before the revival, they stopped by the dining hall to invite everyone. Because of the van trips, ice cream socials, and just walking the halls, they knew at least one person per table, making it easy to connect and invite everyone.
The revival was a great success with more than half of the residents attending. We are so grateful for the faithfulness of the Phipps family to invest their lives in the Gospel – knowing Him and making Him known.
Peter left France five years ago for the United States to work on a second degree. When he arrived he took an interest in medicine. First, he thought of being a paramedic, but several people encouraged him to pursue medical school.
At the University of Texas at Arlington, Peter says “I’d been hearing ‘Mission Arlington®’ here and there” and about other students volunteering, so in January he visited to donate some of his time.
After several weeks, Peter joined the Americorp VISTA intern program. Since then he has been a regular sight, doing triage, working the front desk, doing data entry or computer work, processing lab work, and calling patients to follow-up. He loves the variety and shadowing the doctors to build experience. Peter graduated in May and hopes to be accepted to a medical school in the coming weeks.
The office manager, Jean, says about Peter, “His service has been invaluable in our clinic. He is giving much care and time to our patients. It is our hope that he will be accepted (to medical school), as we are sure he will make a wonderful and highly competent doctor who really cares for his patients.”
Peter’s favorite thing about working at the clinic is “the hard cases:” the people who refuse to take their medicine, the people who will not change their diets. Peter says, “You get to change their behavior a little bit and get them to understand. When you get them to agree on things and 3 months, 6 months later, the results are getting normal.” Peter has been building relationships with the patients and sees how much the doctors and volunteers care. The clinic is not how he initially envisioned it.
“It’s a great place, Mission Arlington®, I didn’t expect that from it. I just thought ‘Medical clinic. We’ll go do our jobs.’ But it’s much more than that. Much more.”
Whitney first came to Mission Arlington® at age 8 when her mom started working in the childcare. She and her brother grew up going to Mission Arlington® Bible Studies, doing Rainbow Express over the summer, and Whitney started teaching at an east Arlington complex when she was 12 years old.
After she graduated from high school, Whitney married and moved to North Carolina. After a time, Whitney knew the marriage was not healthy. Her husband had left the faith. Whitney felt God telling her to come home to Texas, but, worried about what people might say or think, she stayed in North Carolina. “My mom was telling me, ‘Come home, it doesn’t matter, just come home.’ and all it took was Tillie calling me saying, ‘Come home. We miss you.’” Whitney says she started crying and knew she had a place back in Texas where people would love her unconditionally.
When she came back, Whitney stopped by the Mission to bring her mom lunch, and Tillie chatted with her. Tillie told her that another Bible Study leader had just left and that she really needed Whitney to fill in the gap.
So for two years, Whitney has lived and done church at an apartment community. The first year, she says, was very difficult. Someone broke into the church apartment once per month.
But one day, an older woman came to Bible Study, the first adult that had attended since Whitney arrived. At first, the woman was upset, struggling, and embarrassed to share, until finally the woman blurted out, “I’m going through a really bad divorce and I need prayer…I know you’re so young, you can’t relate.” Whitney said, “I really hadn’t gotten to share that with anyone. That opened the door, and I had to say something.” They set up a regular time to pray together and ministered to each other that way.
From that moment, Whitney told God, “Okay – I know this is all you. This is totally where I need to be.”
Since then, Whitney met her new husband and has a brand new life. She works in the food pantry daily, sorting and preparing food for all the people that come each day. Her daughters are a part of Mission Arlington, too, working alongside their mom. Through a few tears, Whitney says, “For my daughters, I wish this could be a family tradition because of how much it blesses me.”
God brought Whitney home, and Mission Arlington® is stronger, people are coming to Christ, because she followed him.
Originally published October 9th, 2016.
Come by almost any day of the week, and you will find W.C. helping people at Mission Arlington®. It’s not a role he would have chosen; he describes himself as “shy.” But last year, after a bout of depression, his pastor suggested that W.C. try volunteering in Mission Arlington’s “Front Room.”
For three months, W.C. resisted, but laughing, he says, “Jesus pulled me along, little by little.” And he finally came in to volunteer.
The Front Room is a special place where people come when they are in crisis. When a person lives paycheck to paycheck, it only takes one small health problem, or even a week of bad weather, to lose their home and more. The volunteers stand ready to help whether the crisis is a temporary loss of income or the loss of a loved one. Because of donations of clothes, food, furniture, as well as financial donations for rent and other bills, most physical needs are met. And the volunteers pray with each visitor to see that their spiritual needs are met, too. In 2014, 42,739 families came through the Front Room for assistance. It stays busy.
It can be emotionally difficult at times, but so rewarding. W.C. joins the Mission Arlington® staff at 8:00 most mornings for the Bible devotional time and prayer. He says those devotional times have reminded him how important it is to personally connect with God everyday on his own. When he is praying and reading the Bible daily, he is better prepared to help those who come to Mission Arlington®.
Additionally, W.C. says his past struggles with addiction and depression allow him to identify with some of those who visit and he can encourage them because he is living proof that there is hope. Read the previous article about W.C. here.
Originally published March 2, 2015. W.C. still serves at Mission Arlington® today.