Children are important to Mission Arlington®. One young woman who has been part of the family, almost since birth, is 11-year-old Deshawndra. Her mom, Debra, has been a driver for Mission Arlington® for many years, making sure children in crisis get to school. Often, Deshawndra rides along with her, helping load and unload the bus. Deshawndra says, “It’s fun. I like it because it’s fun helping other people.”
Deshawndra has enough extra-curricular activities to make up another full-time job. She plays tennis, sings, draws, plays the violin, and reads. She’s in many clubs at her school. Recently, Deshawndra won a school-wide award for an essay about the role of fathers in education. Her favorite activity is tennis. She wants to be a teacher someday.
She has a great example of a teacher at her Mission Arlington® Bible Study. On Sundays, Deshawndra and her mother attend church at their apartment complex in north Arlington. Pastor Bob and his team teach the Bible to any residents who want to attend. Deshawndra and Debra both say that Bob makes the Bible relatable, telling the truth about God and also about how it affects their day-to-day lives.
It’s a joy to see Deshawndra is growing up to be a person who loves people and loves God. We are glad that God brought Debra to the Mission all those years ago with Deshawndra at her side.
“It’s a blessing to see God work miracles every day” – Audrey.
Last fall, Audrey was working in Tulsa at a shelter that was soon to close. She was planning to return to family in New York when to someone casually mentioned Texas. And God said, “You are going to Texas.” Audrey says, “It was embedded in my mind. I couldn’t take my thoughts from it.”
Shortly thereafter, Audrey was in Arlington, Texas. She started volunteering at Mission Arlington and wondered if this was the reason God had whispered “Texas.” Tillie confirmed Audrey’s suspicion when she told Audrey she had a place for her. Since then, Audrey has been working in the front room, on the phones, in the food pantry, and doing Bible Study at a central Arlington apartment complex.
Every day, about 500 people come to the front room of Mission Arlington® looking for help with food, clothing, rent, utilities and other assistance. Audrey is glad to pray with the people and see how we can help. She remembers one woman came needing food, furniture, and had a prayer request. Audrey asked about the prayer request and the woman cried, telling about her entire situation. They prayed and talked for a long time. By the time the woman was left, Audrey says although we didn’t have every last physical thing she asked for, she received something else that God prepared for her, and the woman left in better shape than when she had come.
Recently, Audrey was restocking the food pantry and a request came for more vegetables. Audrey knew there were no more vegetables, but she went back to the stockroom to see if anything else had come in. At that moment, a man came in with a box of canned vegetables and asked where to put them. “Oh, great! We need those in the small pantry,” Audrey told him. He answered, “You don’t understand. “My truck is full of vegetables.”
The next day, a similar issue came up with Ramen noodles. Audrey had just given away the last package of noodles, a very popular item in the pantry, so she went to the stockroom to see what else was available. As she was walking by the donation area, a man pulled up and opened his trunk to reveal it was full of Ramen noodles. Audrey laughed, “Not just one pack, no, boxes and boxes of noodles.”
Audrey thinks about God’s provision in terms of Luke 5. The disciples have been fishing with no success, but when Jesus tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat, the nets break because they are so full of fish. Audrey explains, “Mission Arlington is a broken-net place. People come in a hopeless situation, but leave with nets so full, the nets are broken.”
Hang around the Mission for a while and you’ll start to notice the staff and volunteers act like family. In fact, some of the staff members are family and happy to work for God’s kingdom together.
Clark and Steven are brothers who spent several years of their childhood around the Mission. They have been to college and had a few jobs over the years, but now both of them work at Mission Arlington® full time, although in very different roles.
Clark spends his days making sure the facilities and vehicles of Mission Arlington® are functioning well. This “behind the scenes” work means he visits with plumbers, mechanics, and repairmen that do not have contact with Mission Arlington in other ways.
Clark says his favorite thing about working at the Mission is the people. “It’s fun because I get to work with a different set of people. There’s a plumber that was helping us once. He had a lot of questions. We were working on some major plumbing problems. He just kept talking and talking. For about 3 hours we talked about scripture and his problems. We’ve kept up through the years. He’s going to church; he’s saved now. It’s things you wouldn’t expect while you’re fixing a waterline under a building.”
On his brother, Clark says, “Steven has a very different skill set than I have, and he’s vital to what we do. He’s a great guy.”
Steven recently graduated with a BFA in 2-Dimensional Art. He likes working at the Mission because “not only are we friends, we are family. One big family.” He uses his artistic skill designing t-shirts and brochures, but also coordinates Mission Arlington’s backyard Bible Club, Rainbow Express. During Spring Break, more than 7,000 children attended and 212 people accepted Christ. Read more about Rainbow Express here.
On working with Clark, Steven says, “He’s one of the nicest people I have met. It’s been a joy not only to grow up with him at home, but to work alongside him everyday.”
We are glad God led these brothers to spend their days at Mission Arlington® sharing God’s Word and equipping his people to share love across the city.
In 2008, Jean was enjoying her retirement from the Arlington school district until her mother passed away in March. By that June, she realized she needed to do something to keep herself occupied, so she visited with Tillie. “I knew I needed to get busy. I needed to do something so I would quit feeling sorry for myself.” Tillie introduced her to the medical clinic, and Jean began to work with Andrea, the nurse practitioner and one of Jean’s former students. Jean never left.
Jean does not have a medical background, but her skills as an administrator come in handy with the day-to-day clinic operations. She keeps excellent records, schedules appointments, and countless other necessary duties. Her favorite part of the job, though, is helping patients get reasonably-priced or free medications.
As the cost of prescriptions rise, Jean helps patients navigate pharmaceutical companies’ discount programs. She helps the doctors find the most accessible, most effective way to get patients the medications they need. She often stays late to fill out forms, make phone calls, and communicate with patients, but because she sees how much it helps the clinic’s visitors, she knows it’s worth every minute. “I feel it’s very important that they get their medications. There’s a real obligation in doing that because people need to be cared for in a timely manner.”
Every patient that visits the clinic gets to see God’s love through the time that Jean pours into them. We are grateful for her love and care for the people.
“We don’t need anybody who just sits on the pew like Andrea, so be thinking about what missions opportunities you’d like to be involved in.”
Andrea was 19 when she went along with a friend to a new member class about missions that long-time family friend, Tillie Burgin, was leading. She still remembers hearing the phrase above, and she knew it was true. She could do more, so she started teaching Bible Study at a north Arlington apartment complex the next week and continued throughout college, nursing school, and graduate school.
It took time for Andrea to take the step to volunteer at the Mission Arlington® Medical Clinic, but when she finally did, she knew it was the place she needed to be.
For a time, she had a job as a nurse practitioner and was volunteering at the Mission Arlington Medical Clinic three days and one night per week. Then, as God allowed, she was able to come to Mission Arlington® full time. Now the clinic is opened five days and one night per week. Andrea is there every minute coordinating patient care. She gently guides the volunteer medical students and assist the doctors in finding the most efficient plan of care for each patient using resources across the Metroplex. The clinic has about 9,000 visits yearly, completely free of charge for the patient.
Andrea loves working with the population that comes to the clinic. It reminds her of her first job at Parkland in Dallas. She explains, “You have to meet basic needs before people will be receptive about God.” While receiving care, people are very opened to the Gospel.
Andrea also helps by breaking down barriers to get people to a Bible Study near them. If someone doesn’t have a car, they likely have a Bible Study close by. Also, when patients realize that Andrea personally knows the Bible Study leader in their community, they feel so much more comfortable with their medical care. They know they can trust her and the clinic staff.
Andrea explains, “It’s my dream job. If there was ever a job made for me, it was this one.”
The clinic is always in need of clerical and medical volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please call the Mission Arlington office at 817-277-6620.
Fifteen years ago, Lucy was a stay-at-home mom with four kids, no car, and a husband who was always working or out with his friends. So when a neighbor invited her to a Mission Arlington® Bible Study in her community, she went the same week.
She quickly found that the two workers there, Adrian and Adela, talked about the same Jesus that she had accepted as a child in Mexico. Lucy had heard the couple could help with food, so when her son’s birthday came with nothing in her pantry, she told Adela. Adela said, “I’ll come back with everything you need – just invite me to the party.” And that’s exactly what happened.
After Lucy moved, she found herself at another community with a Mission Arlington® After School program. She sent her children for help with their math. That winter, the worker, Matt, asked if she needed help for Christmas. More than a decade later, Lucy still lights up talking about it. A few days before Christmas, a group of kids showed up with armloads of gifts.“I can’t forget this thing. We had a tree with nothing underneath, and it was like a rain of presents.”
Lucy’s foundation in the Word of God has seen her through many trials. Her husband has changed. He prays, he’s home at night, and he stopped drinking. Her younger children are still in school, applying for jobs, and doing well. One of her boys had a rough adolescence, but is now married with two beautiful children and a good job. It breaks Lucy’s heart to know one of her children is in jail, but she prays for him and still trusts God to change his life. Lucy smiles, “I have problems, but I’m still happy. Jesus made me strong.”
Recently, Lucy was looking for a church to attend and spotted one on her daily drive down Fielder Road. Under the church name, she read, “Mission Arlington®.” She remembered other churches she had attended taught the Word of God, but Mission Arlington® was there when she had nothing. She knew she belonged, so she joined the church. Now she hears the Word of God, and feels connected to a encouraging group of people.
Looking back, Lucy says, “I understand now that God is using me. I don’t have enough time to say thank you.”
This article was originally published 1 year ago, and it is an encouragement and/or a reminder at the beginning of a new year to be a people of prayer
Jack Longgrear was a man of prayer. His faith was his priority in life, and God used this faith in beautiful ways to provide for his family, to care for his friends, and to touch a community.
Jack passed away just before Thanksgiving, on November 17th, last year. Jack’s wife and kingdom partner for sixty-eight (68) years, Imogene, preceded him in death by just a few months. Just before Jack passed away, many noticed the presence of a smile, as he anticipated going home – to see Imogene, of course, but more importantly, his Lord. It was that kind of peace and joy that touched so many people across the years of Jack’s life. There was a transparency about him, so that one could almost look through him to see Christ.
As Mission Arlington® heads towards its 30th anniversary this August, we recall our beginnings of more than 3 decades ago. Because Jack and Imogene were authentic and practicing people of prayer, God placed them into the life of Bob and Tillie as they prayed about starting what would become Mission Arlington®. There were many prayer meetings in the home of this faithful couple. In the living room of their lovely home, the Longgrears’ would pray for Tillie, and for God’s leadership in this new endeavor. These prayer meetings went on for months, and they formed the path and the language of our work in and our heart for this community.
Ministry was a big part of Jack’s life. He spent time with his family members weekly teaching various ones the Bible, and he took great care to write letters of encouragement to those of us in ministry here at the mission. Jack and Imogene put their faith into practice, becoming the team leaders of an apartment congregation in central Arlington. Jack pastored that congregation for more than two decades. His signature opening declaration each and every Sunday was “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Jack meant it, and everyone felt it.
Jack and Imogene served on the Mission Metroplex® Board of Directors for more than 25 years. This past January, that board (as it always does) started the year with a prayer retreat. Each member of the team read a book entitled “Drawing the Circle,” a book about prayer written by pastor Mark Batterson. Jack shared at that prayer retreat how, even in his 90s, he was intending to grow in his prayer life. He was “drawing circles” in his home around people he cared about and for the mission and ministry of Mission Arlington.®
Everyone who heard his testimony that evening was touched by Jack’s confession. It is possible that we have had no greater prayer warrior on our behalf than this precious man. We treasured his friendship, and we miss him much, but we are grateful for the foundations which were laid early on, and for all of those who are taking Jack’s place in the “circle of love” around this place. May the Lord find each of us as faithful as we serve Him in these days.
Sayaka traveled from Japan to Texas to attend school. She was only planning on getting an engineering degree, but in January 2016, Sayaka found Christ.
She writes, “Last year on the day before school started, I was so afraid, and I did not have any hope. I was so lonely, but now I’m different. God has given me courage and changed me and taught me a lot.”
Sayaka was assigned to Mission Arlington® this past summer. She fell right into place with the Mission family and was a joy to be around. “I don’t have family in America. I feel lonely sometimes. But whenever I come here, I feel so welcome. It’s like my family.”
June through August, Sayaka did Summer Program and Lunch program every day plus field trips with her children from her Bible Study with Ms. Emily. One boy in particular had a difficult home life. There was only one parent at home and many children. The boy was always waiting for Sayaka and Emily when they arrived at the apartments. Sayaka said this child had a hard time behaving, but he actually accepted Christ before the summer ended.
God used Sayaka this summer to reach people for Christ and she grew closer to Christ herself. She recently shared this on her Facebook page, “One of the things I learned this summer is God is always taking care of His children in many different ways. He always prepares people around me. I’m not alone anymore. Whenever I need to start new things, I always remember that God is with me and He is my hope. Thank God!”
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.
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.