Francesca grew up in church. She went every week as a child, but always felt confused about who God was. That changed about 5 years ago when a team from Mission Arlington® started a mid-week Bible Study at her apartment complex.
Paty, her teacher, told her about what it means to follow Christ and Francesca accepted him. Paty said it was important for Francesca’s family to be more involved in church, so they started going to church with Paty on Sundays, as well as the weekly Bible Study.
In time, Francesca and her husband saw real changes in their children’s lives. “Before we had many struggles with food, with money. We were in very bad shape. But now, we are better. God gives us everything we need. We ask where it comes from, and the answer is ‘God.’”
Francesca says they have the same jobs and the same amount of money as before, so the difference they feel could be in the attitude they have now. She admits she used to worry all the time, but now says, “I know God is with me. It’s better. We don’t worry about tomorrow.”
Their home is filled with thanks to God. Francesca says. “It’s beautiful to know Christ. Every night I thank him. Every morning, I thank him.” Her kids thanks God, too, for good days at school, at work, for everything. If they ever miss a week at church, the children remind her, and insist that they don’t miss the next week.
Now, the family is all giving back and leading their own Bible Study during the week. This month, they’ve been busy knocking on all the doors in the community, asking who needs a turkey and inviting people to church. They don’t want anyone to miss Thanksgiving or an opportunity to hear about God.
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.
Michelle and her dad, Mark, took a general household donation to Mission Arlington® back in 2011. Michelle was impressed that they needed to give more. They brainstormed and decided baby food would be the best thing to collect. Shortly thereafter, Michelle and Mark returned with 1,000 jars of baby food. This was the start of a year-long relationship of giving.
About a year later, Mark passed away suddenly from an undiagnosed arteriovenous malformation. The family was devastated but found hope in that Mark had accepted Christ 3 days before his death.
Michelle’s mother remarried sometime later, and as a new family, they started looking for a new church. Michelle’s stepfather found Grace Street Fellowship and after the first visit they knew it was the church for them. Michelle says that, while they found people at other churches kind and welcoming, at Grace Street, the members were truly friendly, immediately getting to know them and genuinely interested in their lives. Michelle says, “They love you for who you are.”
In 2013, Michelle really gave her life over to God. Since then, she’s been a light in her school. “I share Christ in every way I can. The students come with me for advice. I share my testimony with them and say, ‘Maybe you should talk to God and then talk to me again.’”
Her youth group leader, Nicole, says it best: “Michelle is both an inspiration and a joy to be around. She has a passion for the Lord and his people that is contagious. I have had the honor of seeing God use Michelle in beautiful ways. Whether it be ministering to her friends at school and church, sharing the love of God with a child at Rainbow Express, or faithfully cleaning a mess when no one else will, Michelle is a wonderful example of being the hands and feet of Christ.”
We thank God for Michelle and are glad that she and her family found their way to live and serve in the Mission Arlington® family.
Four years ago when Marie Lise left her home in Burkina Faso to study finance in East Texas, she had no way of knowing the plans God had. This summer has been a little different for her.
“I wanted to do God’s work and spread the gospel,” she says. So she applied with Go Now Missions. She was assigned to Mission Arlington® as a summer missionary and has been a blessing to everyone she has encountered.
She worked primarily with Ms. Marne, Ms. Bea, and Ms. Tan in East Arlington. Her favorite part has been “working with the kids, getting to know them personally, and giving them a little bit of the love the God gave us, and helping them know God more.”
The population Marie Lise worked with in Arlington includes many Muslim people. She did her best to teach them about Jesus. “They are really sweet, really open to listen.” She says that they didn’t accept Jesus at first because that’s not what they have been taught, but, the more we share, the more they understand.
Unfortunately, Marie Lise is leaving now, off to find a job since she has now graduated. We are sad to see her go. But Marne and her team are still here to continue giving away the love that God gave us. We pray for the children and adults that still need to hear and come to a personal understanding of God’s great love.
Would you like to volunteer at a Mission Arlington® Bible Study? There are communities waiting to hear the gospel, asking someone to come. Please call us at 817-277-6620 and let us know that you’re ready to help.
Vicky had friends who had been to Mission Arlington® before, so she was somewhat familiar when Go Now Missions assigned her to come to work over the summer. The only problem was, her friends couldn’t exactly put into words what Mission Arlington® was like. She thought this was curious, but now she understands. She explains it this way, “There are so many different hands and feet at work here, and there are so many ways God is working them that there’s not one thing that Mission Arlington is.”
The summer has been full of blessings. Vicky says she likes being here “To constantly see God at work. I can not think of a moment I didn’t see God working.”
Vicky worked at Grace Street Fellowship church and a nearby apartment complex. One family in particular touched her life. The children were living with their grandmother and coming daily to Vicky’s summer program. They were challenging – had trouble sitting still and one of the youngest children pulled Vicky’s hair and refused to let go. Vicky was considering asking them to stay home one day as a consequence, but on the very next day, the grandmother came to study the Bible with the adults, bringing all the children with her. While they all sat together that day, the little girl started singing “Jesus Loves Me.” She knew all the words. Then Vicky knew they were learning – even when it seemed like they were not.
Vicky will be finishing school in south Texas, although she plans to come back to spend Christmas at Mission Arlington® and possibly come in a few years to get her Masters at UTA. We’re so glad that God sent Vicky as one of the missionaries God used this summer to bless so many.
Here’s an update on a young man who has appeared in a few Mission Arlington® stories in the past:
Ricardo grew up in a north Arlington apartment complex, faithfully attending the Bible Study that met there even after he moved away.
Now, Ricardo is studying Biblical Studies at Dallas Baptist University. In his classes there, he met a Youth Minister from Bridgeport, TX. Through that connection, Ricardo got a summer job as an intern at First Baptist Bridgeport.
Ricardo says he likes seeing the inner workings of the church – the way everyone prays and prepares, the behind-the-scenes happenings that he had never thought about before. He’s seeing what it takes to be in ministry.
This week, Ricardo is back at Mission Arlington® with the junior high and high school students from his Bridgeport church. The are doing a variety of work projects and Rainbow Express. “I always did a lot at Mission Arlington®. I got the chance to teach, do a summer program. I volunteered, helping out, so I already knew about that. But being able to do Rainbow Express is different for me. It’s pretty awesome to see the work that goes into it and prepare for that.”
It’s exciting to see him come back as a leader. The teens in his group are hard workers. They are loving people and having a blessed time. Ricardo says, “They are really learning from this experience. It’s helping them grow.”
After Ricardo graduates, he hopes to keep working in ministry, maybe local, maybe overseas, wherever God takes him. Either way, it is certain, he has a heart for people and more people will be reached for Christ because of Ricardo’s life.
By Jim Burgin, staff writer.
Will the circle be unbroken by and by, Lord, by and by? Is there a better home awaitin’ in the sky Lord in the sky?
The lyrics from this old Christian hymn written in 1907, now old enough to be in the public domain, point to a certain reunion with our loved ones who have gone to heaven before us. There in heaven, the family circle will once again be complete.
More than thirty (30) years ago, there was a circle formed here on earth to pray for God’s leadership and blessing before Mission Arlington® began. Tillie and Bob Burgin had returned home from South Korea as missionaries in 1978. Even then, the persistent heaven-sent question filled Tillie’s heart “If you can do missions in Korea, why can’t we do missions at home – in Arlington?” A group of men and women over a period of seven years formed a circle around Tillie and this question. They prayed faithfully for Tillie, and for the Lord to reveal His will. Seven years later, on August 1st, 1986, the Lord launched Mission Arlington®.
Mervin & Genetty Childers and the Burgin family lived in the same neighborhood and became life-long friends in the days after they returned from Korea. Mervin was a deacon at First Baptist Church in Arlington, and the church had prayed for the Burgins through their years of service in Korea. The Childers, along with a crowd of First Baptist friends, had welcomed the Burgins home, meeting the family at the airport. Tillie began her Monday night Bible study for women (which she still leads to this day), and for years they met in the Childers’ home.
Since the Bible study was for ladies only, I was never allowed in, but on several occasions, Mervin would sit and share with me his experiences in the war, and his own journey of faith. I treasured those conversations. One memory stands out in particular. We hadn’t been back in the States long, when I ventured out and asked a First Baptist young lady out on a date. It was 1978. I took our family car, and took my date to see the Musical and Romantic Comedy “Grease” at the Forum 303 Mall out on East Pioneer Pkwy in Arlington. On our way home – in fact – before we exited the Mall parking lot, I had a “fender bender” with another car. I left my date in the car, ran back to a payphone in the movie theatre, and for some reason that I still can’t explain today, called Mervin Childers. Without hesitation, Mervin graciously came out to rescue me – or perhaps my date – I wasn’t sure, but everything was better when he arrived.
Fast forward many years, Mervin (a Mathematics professor at UTA for 36 years) helped me through another panicked moment when I was struggling through advanced math in a summer course there. Interestingly enough, years later, when my oldest son Clark needed tutoring in high school, Mervin came to our aide. I still remember the two of them in the front room of Mission Arlington® going over Math. Mr. Childers never had a need to show what he knew, but he always had a way of helping others with what God had given him. This story is repeated over and over in the lives of so many young people in our community. What he did for us, he did for so many. Couple this with the way Mervin served behind the scenes – through many years, you would find him in our food pantry sorting food – and you see clearly a man who loved his Lord and made a difference in this world.
Mervin passed away at the age of 91 just a few days ago, July 10th, 2016. Because of his faith in Jesus Christ, Mervin joined the great circle around the throne, blending in with the heavenly chorus, singing the song which only the redeemed know. His loved ones and faith family will join him in that circle some day, so the circle will be unbroken again. I can almost hear the song now.
What resonates with us in these days, however, as we near our 30th anniversary, was the prayer circle formed by Mervin and Genetty, along with many others, more than thirty (30) years ago. Circled with prayer, the Lord’s work through Mission Arlington® is still going strong today. Many more will join the heavenly circle, because of the faithfulness of so many who pray, help, and give through this place. Thank you Mr. Childers. We’ll join the circle with you again some day.
May the circle be unbroken. To God be the Glory!
In 1993, Denia’s family moved from California to Texas. She was so young, Texas is the only home she has known. Specifically, she remembers the east Arlington apartment complex where she grew up.
The complex did not have a swimming pool or a playground. But there was a Mission Arlington® Bible Study a few doors down from Denia’s home. She remembers coming Sundays to Bible Study, doing homework, going on field trips to the park and pool, Rainbow Express, summer camp. She says, “I remember a lot of nice things. I learned a lot from the Bible Studies we had. When I was little, this was my favorite place to be.”
Now, Denia has a career, and she and her husband own a house in a different neighborhood. Their family is active at their church in Grand Prairie. However, Denia’s parents still live in the same east Arlington apartment community and keep Denia’s two daughters while she works. The older daughter, Emily, comes regularly to the Mission Arlington® activities.
Denia is pleased that her daughter is in the same loving Mission Arlington® community where she grew up. “It’s something that I went through when I was a child and now that my daughter can do it, too, it makes me very happy.”
Denia is glad that Mission Arlington® was part of her childhood. “We are privileged to have Mission Arlington®, because not every complex has it. It’s a big gift.”
There are many communities in Arlington asking Mission Arlington® to come and teach the Bible every week, but the workers are few. If you feel God asking you to do more, please contact us to see how you can help.
Avigayle’s life has been surrounded by Missions. Her mother originally came to Texas to be a Summer Missionary with Mission Arlington, and her father has worked at Mission Arlington for many years.
The past summers, Avigayle has had opportunities to do missions in Guatemala. The leaders of the annual week-long mission trip are family friends, so she has been invited many times. “I’ve always known that missions what something I wanted to do. But it never felt right to be so far away from home.” This year, however, felt different. When the time to sign-up came around again, Avigayle said, “The opportunity is here. Let’s jump on it.” As she prayed and talked with her parents, it became apparent that it was the right choice.
She doesn’t personally know the people that she will be traveling with – they are all in Kentucky and she’s in Texas. Across the miles, her team has been kind and supportive.
In mid-July, the team will board a plane to Central America. Avigayle and her team will be building houses and helping in a orphanage. Where will they stay? What else will they do? Avigayle is not sure, but she’s excited for the opportunity to serve wherever the Lord leads.
The Guatemala trip has already affected people stateside, too. As conversation naturally came up with Avigayle’s school friends, she was able to share her plans for the summer. The response and support has been great. She’s been able to talk with all her friends, believers and non-believers, about her relationship with Christ and the way God is leading her this summer. When God and his goodness naturally comes up in conversation, something is going right.
We are grateful that Avigayle is part of the Mission Arlington family. It has been a joy to see her grow up in the Lord.
For many years, Lucy sent her children to church. She went for Christmas plays and picnics, but did not see a reason to attend weekly herself. For many years, her children, Isdayana, Brandon, and Brayan, went to church and prayed for their mom. Other aunts and cousins also encouraged Lucy to attend.
Last summer, the church youth group went to see the movie War Room. The movie focuses on the power of prayer, and Lucy’s children could not stop thinking about it. Brayan said, “It encouraged me to pray more and pray for my family.”
After weeks of concentrated prayer, Brayan told his mom that he was praying for her, and she knew she had to come. After Lucy started, she didn’t stop. Her family and friends started to tell her they could tell she was different. Her attitude was kinder and her family was more united. Now she attends every week, sings in the praise team, and follows God in a real way.
Very recently, she realized that the work she was doing did not “fill her.” She wanted to do something day to day that would really help people and spread God’s word, so now she is at the Mission office everyday praying with people and helping meet their physical needs as well.
Also, their whole family, including the aunts and cousins, do a Wednesday night Bible Study at an eastside Arlington apartment complex. It’s only been going for two months, but they already have a crowd of adults and children, learning scripture, singing songs, and loving God.
Brandon sums it up, “God brought us together more.” We thank God for the great influence this family is having on their friends and neighbors. Watching them grow and add more people to God’s family is such a blessing.