It started ten years ago when Maria and Pedro started sending their children, age 6 and 9, to a Mission Arlington® Bible Study. The parents did not care to attend, but they knew it was good for Yvonne and Eric to learn about God. But when Maria’s vision loss sent them to the emergency room, their lives changed in a dramatic way.
During that ER visit, the doctors found the brain tumor. Maria could not leave the hospital and stayed in intensive care for 3 months. After the swelling in her brain subsided, doctors tried to surgically remove the tumor. During the surgery, Pedro waited in the hospital, not sure if his wife would survive. No one was there to wait with him. He felt angry and alone.
Suddenly, someone he recognized showed up. They still do not know how this person knew when the surgery was nor how he walked in at just the right time, but the pastor from the Bible Study the children attended walked in just as the nurses had taken Maria back. He prayed with Pedro and sat with him for a while. Pedro says he felt so much peace when the pastor came. Maria came through the surgery and starting attending church faithfully the first Sunday she was able.
Maria says, “I felt so happy. I felt like I was part of family.” She knew many people at the church had prayed for her. She started singing on the praise team.
A year later, another tumor had formed – a different type. “The nightmare returned,” Maria says. But, surgery was not an immediate need. They could watch and wait, so that’s what they did for 7 years. Maria says the second surgery was different from the first. “There was pain, and some worry – but nothing like before. Because we were stronger? No. Because God works.”
It’s been a year and a half since the last surgery. Maria still has to have scans to check for any new tumors. Days are not always easy, but their family is united, and they have the love and support of their church, where they still faithfully attend. They all have a deeper relationship with God. Their daughter Yvonne says the experience taught her how to pray. “I didn’t really talk to God until then. And I found out he does listen to you. He has blessed us so much.”
Such beauty and growth from a life-threatening event can only come from God. We are so grateful for this faithful family.
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.
Tamara had never been to a church before she met Linda. As an adult, living on South Collins, she was not doing right, but the neighborhood Bible Study leader, Linda, always responded to her kindly, delivering food each Monday, inviting her to Bible Study. Tamara felt confused, wondering how Linda could be so kind knowing how Tamara was living.
After some time of receiving food from the church, Linda asked Tamara something that still influences her to this day. Tamara remembers, Linda said lovingly, “Why do you always come with your hand out? Why don’t you come and serve? Service is such a blessing.” Tamara was still not 100% committed to God, but she knew Linda was right. The next week, Tamara started helping at the food giveaway.
Linda continued to support Tamara. She helped her find a job at UPS and drove her to work each day until Tamara made a friend at work who could drive her. Linda talked about loving the Lord, and although Tamara says, “Those words fell on deaf ears with me,” she could see that Linda, and other Mission Arlington workers who delivered furniture and visited her, were loving and kind.
Later, when Tamara lost her apartment, a friend allowed her to stay with her for a few weeks, with the understanding that Tamara had to attend church and get a job as soon as possible. One morning, Tamara heard a voice tell her to get dressed and go to a specific office for a job. She did get dressed, went to two other places first, with no results. Finally, she went to the suggested office and was hired on the spot. That night she fell to her knees and said, “Now, I know there is a God.” That night, God changed Tamara’s life.
Remembering those words that Linda said, “Why don’t you come and serve?” Tamara lives a life of service. She knows she was saved because of loving people who gave and volunteered, and she wants others to have an opportunity to know Christ. She sings on the worship team, cleans the church after luncheons, and donates clothes. Another great blessing that she wants to share with others is free haircuts. When she was young, her family paid for her to go cosmetology school, so she “It’s my service back to God.” She keeps her bag of scissors and clippers with her at all times in case someone needs her.
Mostly, Tamara is deeply grateful, “I’m thankful for a loving church that Tillie has formed and brought together out of loving the Lord.”
In 1994, James was pastoring a church 20 minutes away from Mission Arlington®, but he meet Tillie Burgin at a conference far away in south Texas. Tillie was the speaker, and everything she said touched James’ heart so profoundly, he began to respond from the back row, “Amen!” Afterwards, they realized they were practically neighbors. A ministerial connection, and a friendship, was born.
James wanted others to avoid the mistakes he had made when he began preaching and caring for people in the Woodhaven area of Fort Worth. His church gave away food and clothes to the surrounding neighborhood, so he felt at home at Mission Arlington® where he found people with the same heart.
The years have taken James across Fort Worth, into different ministerial roles, through medical issues, and past an amputated foot. For a year he literally had to be off his feet, but during his time of illness, the Lord showed him that he needed to get back to the people, back to serving on the ground. He says, “I do not want to punch my clock out of here and not be significant, not make a difference. Not by numbers but by impact.”
About a year ago, James found himself driving through Arlington, hurting, around 4:00 on a Sunday, which has been the time of the Mission Arlington® Worker’s meeting every week since 1986. He knew where to find his family. James slipped in the back of the meeting, crying, into open arms. After the meeting, Tillie told him to come visit during the week.
Since then, James has been as active as he can at Mission Arlington®. Despite continuing health concerns, he says he has to keep reaching out, ministering directly to the people. “I’m too old just to do church. I’m too old just to preach three points and a poem. I don’t want to leave without fulfilling God’s mission for my life.
“There are other places I could be, other things I could do. But I don’t think there’s any place I would be more significant, any place I would be more loved, any place I would be more appreciated, or any place that I care more about.”
Alma found a new home at Mission Arlington® and new life in Christ. As a child, wherever Alma’s family moved, they were always near a Mission Arlington® Bible study. She attended faithfully with a passel of nieces and nephews. In her teens, when they moved into a house, a Mission Arlington® worker picked up her family weekly so they could still attend Grace Street Fellowship.
Alma was given more responsibilities over the years. She started helping in the nursery. After graduation, Alma’s parents moved to Arkansas, expecting her come. “But I love Arlington.” Alma said. She stayed behind, bouncing back and forth between friends and extended family, still coming to church as often as she could.
Over time, the church members found that she had some medical and physical needs that had to be addressed. They took her to the medical and dental clinic to receive care, started an exercise program with her and taught her healthy eating habits.
But this was not enough. Alma still did not have a permanent home. Eventually, two church members, Tommy and Noeleen felt God saying Alma needed to live with them. Noeleen remembers very clearly, “I couldn’t tell God no.” For five years now, Alma has had her own bedroom in her own house. She is under the care of the doctors at Mission Arlington®‘s free clinic. The staff at Mission Arlington® love her.
Alma says she loves “everything” that she does at Mission Arlington®, but her favorite thing is helping the children. She is often watching babies so parents can look for clothing and housewares. If there is a special activity, like Bible Olympics or the Easter Egg Hunt, Alma is there, working hard.
Alma’s nieces and nephews sometimes visit Mission Arlington® and always asks how Alma is doing. It’s special to see them connect again when they have time to visit. Recently, Alma’s parents moved back to the area and began attending Grace Street Fellowship – learning about the love of God that Alma knows so well.
We thank God for how he brought Alma to Mission Arlington®. The Mission is better because she is here.
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.
Tan came to volunteer at Mission Arlington® earlier this year. Her sister, Bea, had been volunteering for years, and they started to pray together that Tan would find a job. In October, a position opened up for Downtown Litter Patrol. Now, you can see Tan three days per week, cleaning up the streets all around Downtown Arlington, representing Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex®.
Her orange work vest has the Mission Arlington® logo, so she says she gets stopped all the time by people asking where the Mission is, whether it’s a volunteer, donor, or someone in need. The business owners offer her water on warm days. She is an excellent representative for God because she always has a smile and is always willing to help.
Tan also helps at an afterschool program in the afternoons, helping children with homework and sharing God’s love with them. During the two weeks before Christmas, Tan is also in the Christmas Store, helping people shop for free toys for their children.
Tan says, “I love it. I do. I am blessed to be involved.” And she is a blessing to others.
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®.
In the early 90s, a man showed up at Mission Arlington® to help out. He had been living on the streets, and had not been in contact with his family for some time. He kept coming to help and eventually, he was asked to stay. While Mission Arlington® did not and does not have a “shelter,” when Jeff came all those years ago, there was a spare room available, and that became his new house. Mission Arlington® became his new home.
Jeff has had a variety of jobs in the more than 20 years he has been part of Mission Arlington®. He has driven trucks, picked up and delivered donations, locked up the property at night, cut the grass, and had countless other responsibilities.
Several years ago, someone donated a large rectangular container to Mission Arlington®. It had an opened top and a cross on the side. No one was exactly sure what it was made for, but, at the time, there was quite a bit of paint that needed a home. So the container was used to store gallons of paint until a visitor noticed the box and pointed out that it was made to be a portable baptistry.
The staff moved the paint to a cabinet and put the baptistry on a trailer. Now whenever one of the apartment churches has a person to baptize, Jeff is the one who fills the baptistry and drives it to the church. Of all the jobs he’s had, Jeff says, “I like helping people be baptized for the Lord the best.”
In addition to finding a place to stay and a new family when Jeff came to Mission Arlington®, he was also able to reconnect with the family that raised him. They attended the church across the street from the Mission office and were glad to find that Jeff was safe. Jeff was happy to find them again, too, but most of all, Jeff says, “I found God.”
The threat of rain couldn’t stop thousands of volunteers from waking up early on Thanksgiving day to deliver meals. For many, passing out turkeys at Mission Arlington® is a tradition they refuse to miss.
Keith from Compass Church in Colleyville invites his whole family to come volunteer before they head home to watch the Cowboy game and eat their half-time dinner. Any out-of-town family comes along with them, which means this year, people from as far away as California were serving families in Arlington. Keith’s family has been coming for four years, and Keith says they hope to come for 40 more. He says, “It’s good to do a little bit to help everyone else.”
Omar brought his group from Phi Beta Sigma just like he has every year for the past 5 years. He says even in a storm, they still would have come. “We’re committed. We are glad to help and give back to the community. We love to be a part.”
Rachel’s family from the Church on Rush Creek also came to help so their children could see how faith and service go hand-in-hand. She and her husband say, “We want our kids to experience being the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Thank you to all of you who were the hands and feet of Jesus this year. We praise God for bringing together the donations and volunteers to serve the people of the Metroplex.