Years ago, God fashioned a friendship that has stayed strong and is now an important part of Mission Arlington®.
Denny met Tillie Burgin when they both worked for the Arlington Independent School District in the early 80’s. A mutual friend suggested that they all meet for breakfast weekly, and that’s what all three of them did for years. Eventually, the meeting moved to Tillie’s office at Mission Arlington®. The friend moved away, but to this day, Denny and Tillie still meet together once per week to pray.
Over time, Denny and his wife Candy joined the Mission Metroplex® board, and about 15 years ago, Denny became the board chairman. Around that time, Denny also left the AISD to work at Dallas Baptist University where he still serves as the provost and is now an honorary alumnus.
Denny wanted to be a part of Mission Arlington® because the gospel is the backbone of everything the ministry does. He says, “The thing that made me want to be involved then, and makes me still want to be involved today, is that this ministry stays focused on Jesus Christ, serving people, helping them, and trying to draw them to Christ. It’s not focused on buildings or getting recognition. It is just focused on the gospel.”
Denny and Candy do far more than attend meetings. They pray for Mission Arlington® daily and volunteer at every special event. You’ll see them directing traffic and guiding families through the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Fall Festival. They dispatch volunteers to deliver turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. They stock and wrap presents at the Christmas Store. We are thankful that God brought them to be an integral part of the work at Mission Arlington®.
[This article was originally published in December of 2015]
Alex was building yachts in Italy when a friend introduced him to a real life in Christ. Alex began studying the Bible, soaking it in, when an acquaintance from his home country of Columbia caught his attention on social media. He sent her a friend request on a whim.
Irina, a lawyer in Columbia, had just ended a serious relationship with a man who had been unkind. She took a short trip with a friend to Europe to clear her head. While visiting Italy, she met Alex in person. Their friendship continued, and they were married shortly thereafter. Alex returned to Columbia, and they started their life together.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, God sent them to America. They moved here with no family, few connections.
Alex says he relates to Abraham being called to travel from the comfort of home and family to a new land. He wasn’t sure why God was asking them to leave, but they followed and found themselves in a new, difficult, blessed journey. He remembered how when Moses questioned God, God replied, “I AM.” This same God was telling them to move, so they moved.
While settling down in Arlington, they found themselves needing a little help. They visited the Mission. A woman named Lucy helped them and noticed they seemed so alone. After listening to their story, she invited them to church. They came the next Sunday and have scarcely missed a Sunday since.
At church, Alex and Irina found a solid place to study the Bible, to break bread with other believers, and to participate in outreach. Irina grew up in church, but says before she moved to America, she didn’t really understand what God and the church were about. But in the last few years, she has seen the church come together to pray for her when she’s in need and to meet physical needs as well. She remembers with a smile, “We needed a bed, and, who was it? Lucy’s son came in a truck and delivered us a bed.” Irina smiles again when she says, “And the dental clinic fixed my teeth. I’m not in pain anymore.”
The whole time, they have continued to give back and volunteer in their community as they are able. They invite people to church and are glad to share God’s word with their neighbors.
The stories of God’s provision and plan are more than will fit in this short space, but it is clear, Alex and Irina have found joy since God sent them here from across the globe.
Sue was living in Michigan, working at Michigan State University, but had one foot in Texas for many years, while her husband was President of UTA. When in Arlington, Sue and her husband would often stop by to visit and pray with Tillie. When in Michigan, Tillie would occasionally write her a note saying how she was praying for Sue and praying for her permanent move to Texas – before Sue had any intention of moving south.
After retiring from 20 years as a volunteer fireman and 25 years at General Motors, Morgan Hogue, Jr. 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 passed away January 8th, 2018. His homegoing celebration was yesterday, January 10th, 2018.
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.
It started when Sam was seven, living at Westwood apartments in central Arlington. He remembers Martha and Earl gathering all the people to study the Bible. For Sam, it started as a place to get juice and cookies, but became so much more. He started learning about the Word. He remembers accepting Christ at that apartment church when he was eight years old.
Patti began volunteering at Mission Arlington® and attending Celebrate Recovery several years ago. Read part of her story here.
Nowadays, Patti is happy with the changes she has made. As one example, she says she had been able to keep a gentle attitude in every aspect of her life, save one: driving alone in her car. If another car cuts her off, she still had a hard time keeping her anger under control. While no one else would know about this vice, Patti knew it was an issue that needed to be addressed. When she finally gave it up to God, he helped her to change. Now, Patti prays and can forgive drivers who used to upset her, even when no one else is watching.
This week, in particular, was special for Patti. She has lived for many years just a few blocks from Mission Arlington®. Every Thanksgiving, she would look out her window and see the lines and lines of cars being loaded with turkeys. The bustle of activity looked like so much fun, she says, “I longed to be a part of it.” But with the heavy issues she was carrying, she couldn’t bring herself to go volunteer.
Now, Thanksgiving is one of Patti’s favorite days of the year. This week, all the volunteers who drove through to pick up a turkey saw Patti’s smiling face directing traffic and answering questions at the parking lot entrance. The smile was there in the morning, and continued until the last turkey was delivered.
“It brings tears of joy to my eyes,” Patti says. What a reminder of how far she’s come and how God is using her today.
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.