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.
Several times over the years, Michelle has come to visit Mission Arlington® for a week at a time with her church. Her group did Rainbow Express® and work projects, and in doing so, made a real difference in the lives of people in Arlington. Michelle, however, desired to make a bigger investment. This fall, she committed to move to Arlington for a semester. It was an important leap of faith.
Everyday, Michelle works in the food pantry, helps sort donations under the car port, and teaches at an After School program each day. In the food pantry, she loves to chat one-on-one with the people. Under the carport, she is blessed when she sees all the donations coming in and the way God uses those donations. She enjoys teaching at the After School programs the most and loves to see the children learn and grow in Christ. One of the reasons she wanted to come back was to see how God changes people over months rather than a week. Because of her availability, she is involved at four different Bible Study sites.
At one site last week, while Michelle was teaching the Bible lesson, one 10-year-old girl raised her hand and asked, “This story is about a fake guy, right?” Michelle assured her that the stories they were telling were true. The girl asked amazed, “So, the stuff about the cross is all real?” What an opportunity to share the truth with a group of children.
Across Arlington, Mission Arlington workers find families who have not heard about Jesus. How wonderful that God would send someone like Michelle, who has a real desire for people to know, so that more people can hear the truth of what God did to save the world.
More Bible Study and After School workers are needed right now. People are asking for someone to come share Christ in their neighborhoods, but the workers are few. If God is calling you to volunteer, please come by or call to see how you can help today.
Originally published in November 2015. Michelle still works with the mission today.
Seventeen years ago, Jerry was attending a small church in Hurst when a group, visiting from another state and volunteering for Mission Arlington®, came to do Rainbow Express at a nearby apartment. He had heard of Mission Arlington® before, but this was his first experience working with it first hand.
Jerry remembered a quote from Henry Blackaby, “Find out where God is at work, and join Him there.” So, when Jerry retired two years later and landed in Arlington, he stopped by the Mission office to see if there was any handy-man or carpentry work to do. Carpentry had always been an occasional hobby, and he says, “If it supports the ministry, I’m happy to do it.”
Tillie put him to work right away, three days per week. Jerry works on almost anything and had learn much in his time here. He says, “Plumbing is the one thing I told Tillie I don’t do, but now I do it.”
Jerry also teaches the “Young at Heart” senior adult class at Grace Street Fellowship. The class grew so large they had to divide. Instead of finding a teacher from an outside source, one of his attendees teaches the other Sunday school class and also leads an apartment Bible study during the week. Jerry loves to see his class stay active about sharing their faith.
Jerry also does a yearly outreach in Peru sharing the gospel with people who are receiving medical care. It’s a blessing to hear about how lives are being changed because of the work in Peru, at Grace Street, and around Arlington because Jerry followed God’s call to go where He is working.
Do you have a special skill you’d like to use to further God’s work? Please contact Mission Arlington® at 817-277-6620 to see how your skills might meet people’s needs.
Originally published March 20th, 2016. Jerry still serves at Grace Street Fellowship, and the Mission. He and his team leave for Peru this week. Please keep them in your prayers.
After retiring from 20 years as a volunteer fireman and 25 years at General Motors, Morgan knew he wanted to keep taking care of the community in a special way. Community involvement has always been key at the GM plant. Morgan remembers the management allowing him to leave his shift early to fight fires, and he knew the employees had generous hearts. The plant already collected toys every Christmas for a national drive, and Morgan wondered if they couldn’t do more and keep it local.
It was time to visit Tillie. “There was no formal introduction,” he says, “Everyone knew Tillie.” He asked if she could use some Christmas toys. Of course she said yes, Mission Arlington® could always use more toys. Back at the plant, the employees started to raise money to do more. A few ladies would make lunch for the staff, and instead of going out, anyone could stop by the break room, eat, and donate their lunch money. Another group of employees made little candy bags to sell to each other to add a little more to the pot. Eventually, the management arranged that, voluntarily, the employees could auto-draft a few dollars from each paycheck go to the toy committee.
Now, Morgan is the liaison between GM and Mission Arlington®. He helps arrange a special day for Mission Arlington® Bible Study children to visit the plant. The children eat lunch, and pass out candy canes to the workers on the line. Then Santa visits and each child from the small group picks a toy. After the last group, everyone helps load the trucks and drives straight to the Mission to unload.
Morgan says his favorite part is seeing people come together to help the less fortunate. He says, “God put us here for a purpose.” Morgan has certainly found a good position to continue serving the Arlington community.
This year, General Motors employees sent many boxes of toys throughout the fall. Then, on the officially delivery day, they filled 2 semi-trucks and 2 box trucks full of brand new toys. The toys went immediately to the store and helped many of the 7,351 families (30,415 children) that visited this Christmas. We are grateful for the way God puts the GM and Mission Arlington® families together each year to bless so many.
Originally published December 27th, 2015. Morgan continues to serve through Mission Arlington®