Many years ago a growing apartment church in central Arlington was losing its pastor. He was moving out of town. Tillie asked her husband Bob if he could substitute for a little while until someone else could come lead the church.
Twenty years later, Bob Burgin is still the pastor. He says, “I have seen growth over the years, and the fellowship just gets sweeter and sweeter.”
Bob has lived a life full of service. He has not only served as pastor at South Street/Parkview Church all these years. He also taught, led, and has been honored at Dallas Baptist University. He was a successful principal at both Arlington High School and Nichols Junior High in Arlington, and earlier taught math in public school.
Before that he shared Christ in Korea and served in the military. It was this military service in Korea which led the Burgins to serve as missionaries for more than a decade, and ultimately to the start of Mission Arlington®. Anytime Bob is at Mission Arlington®, he is bringing dinner for the staff, setting up chairs or cleaning up after the weekly workers’ meeting. Service all around.
As far as the congregation at Parkview, they have only good things to say about Pastor Bob. One says, “He is a good pastor and a gentleman.” Another comments on how well he teaches. It obvious by the way the Sunday School teachers love the people under his direction, Bob is leading by example.
It’s a blessing from God that Bob is part of the Mission family. His life is a story of God’s love and service for others.
Tillie and Bob will have been married for 59 years this month. Together, they have lived a life of faithfulness to the Lord, and it has made a difference.
Ceaser came in June 2015 to serve as a summer missionary through the organization Go Now Missions to share the love and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He stayed all summer, worked long days, and, a week later, wrote this about his time here:
“It’s been a week since I came home from Mission Arlington®… This place was unbelievable, and I had never seen anything like it in all my life. Mission Arlington® broke me down physically, mentally, and most importantly, spiritually. It was a humbling experience and a huge blessing for my relationship with Christ.
The people I met over the summer impacted me in many different ways, and I really appreciate all the love they’ve shown me. At Mission Arlington® I had the privilege of serving God in ways that I wasn’t really expecting. I got to do things like organizing and cleaning rooms, consolidating boxes full of things, and making sure things were always where they needed to be. Although, sometimes, I was pulled aside to do projects, like move around 50 lb. bags of rice and beans, or run wire through a blazing hot attic, I spent most of my time working hard at the furniture warehouse. I worked with people like J, Barbara, Noeleen, and Tommy, who have all worked there for years and taught me so much in the little time I was there. Working in the warehouse consisted of moving around donated furniture and giving it to families who needed it. We would constantly load and unload trucks. Mission Arlington® does so much for the people that I can’t really all post here because it’s too much stuff to type. I would just suggest you go and volunteer yourself so you could experience it all.
Each day I would work at the warehouse, then I would leave for about 2 hours and go to two different apartment complexes. I would go on Tuesdays and Thursdays to one apartment complex with Ms. Marla and Mekayla in Fort Worth and do summer program with the kids. Summer Program is a Bible lesson and a snack. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays I would go to an apartment complex in Arlington with and do summer program with there.
Every week we would teach the children something different, and, even though they tested our patience a lot of the time, we loved the kids. In July we took the kids to Camp Thurman where they could swim, play, and zipline. Camp was great because it was a time where we could reach out to the kids, be their friends, and let them know that we weren’t just their teachers. So many young lives were impacted when we shared the gospel and the love of Christ this summer through things like camp, summer programs, Rainbow Express, and carnivals.
I witnessed a few salvations and heard of many more. I was constantly hearing of how God was moving throughout the city of Arlington and the Metroplex because of everything the Mission did. I’m glad I was able to be a part of it, and I really hope I’ll be able to go back one day if God allows.
Mission Arlington® is such a great place. I felt like every week I found out something new about what they do for the community, because they really do so much, and it’s beautiful. They provide people with food, clothes, furniture, at no cost, and it’s all because of the message of the cross and what Christ did for us. It was incredible to see that they truly live out the verse Matthew 10:8 “Freely you have received: Freely give” which also coincidentally happened to be the verse on our Go Now shirts. Along with freely giving out what they have received as donations, they also freely give the gospel to the people, which is much more valuable.
I just wanted to share a part of what I did this summer in Arlington, and if you want to know more just let me know.”
Around 37 young men and women gave up their summers to be the hands and feet of Jesus this year. Many have similar stories of lives changed. Thanks to God for sending them and for the way he works in this Metroplex.
James and Lauren lost a child last year, and last month they celebrated what would have been her first birthday with a day of service at Mission Arlington®. Their family came with balloons and gave back to
the community in memory of this sweet baby.
They wanted everyone to know that in the midst of difficult times, you can still have a purpose in live. You can still make a difference in this world.
The Bible does not teach that when we follow Christ we will not suffer. In fact, the Bible says we should expect it. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
We should praise God when we suffer. He comforts us and allows us to be a light to others.
We are honored that James and Lauren chose service here to celebrate their child. We pray that people’s lives would be changed through their testimony because of this little one.
For almost a year, a group of teenagers from the north side of Arlington have been leading an apartment Bible Study in east Fort Worth. They travel there weekly so that more people have an opportunity to hear about Christ.
Since they already give up their Saturdays, it might be hard to believe that they would also give up a whole week of their summer vacation to work in the heat and play with children, but that’s just what they did.
The teens, plus a few of their friends, did a mission trip in July. They didn’t go too far, since most of them grew up in Arlington attending Mission Arlington activities®, but their impact was tremendous. Altogether, eleven teenagers immersed themselves in the mission experience. They stayed in a donated space, using sleeping bags on the floor. They ate together for every meal and spent hours training and practicing the songs, stories and puppet shows for Rainbow Express.
Their lives are a witness to the people they are serving, but also to their peers and families. When a parent sees that their teenager is willing to sacrifice comfort and time to help others, it speaks louder than words ever could.
Please pray for these teens as they start back to school that they will continue to be a light in their homes and community.
Daniela’s life began with some difficult moments, but she knows God pursued her throughout her childhood.
Her earliest memories are from “Peach Street,” the area that is now the Cowboys’ Stadium. Daniela and her mother moved there after her father passed away. Daniela remembers going to a few Mission Arlington® events at the storefront church on Collins. And one day when her mom felt sick and wondered how they would get to a doctor, a stranger knocked on the door to say the Mission Arlington® mobile clinic there and that anyone could come for free. Daniela saw God taking care of their family.
Eventually, her family moved to an apartment near UTA. At the new place, Daniela found herself in the unfortunate position of living too close to her school to ride the school bus, but had to cross a busy street to walk to school. The Bible Study leaders at the new complex told her that they gave rides to school in a Mission Arlington® bus. Again, Daniela saw God taking care of her. Every week on the bus, the leader would invite everyone to the apartment church. Finally, Daniela went.
There, she learned to read her Bible, to pray, and that God loved her. She started giving back by volunteering at Mission Arlington®. This laid the groundwork for her to accept Jesus as her Savior. It was difficult to accept God’s love. She had trouble understanding how a loving God could let her father die before she could even have memories of him. But at just the right time, she let go of her doubts and accepted that God did love her.
Now she says, “God has a plan for you.” And when she finds herself struggling, she prays, God shows himself, usually in little ways, and she finds herself asking, “Why did I doubt you in the first place?” Accepting God’s perfect plan and unfailing love has always carried her through and has proved to be the right choice.
One of the first apartment complexes to invite Mission Arlington to start a Bible Study in the late 80’s was Westwood Village near UTA. The message was well received, and the residents quickly began to see the apartment clubhouse as their church building, neighbors as church members, and the bi-vocational leader, Bob, as their pastor. For the first few years, as people moved away, many drove back to the apartment complex each Sunday to continue attending their church.
In fact, so many people were driving back that the clubhouse couldn’t hold them all. There was not enough parking. The church needed a bigger space.
Mission Arlington had acquired one building nearby that was being used for donated furniture. After a little cleaning, the warehouse space became the church’s new meeting place.
The church has moved a couple of times since then for a variety of reasons, and many of the members have changed, but the heart of the church stays the same. They want everyone to know Christ. Every Sunday, before services, the church holds an English as a Second Language class. Throughout the week, groups from out of town stay in their building while serving at Mission Arlington. The church is a light to their community.
Victor, who teaches the adult Spanish class, and his family have been in the congregation for at least 7 years. Victor and his young son, named after his father, make visits in the surrounding neighborhood. The younger Victor remembered a story he had heard about Pastor Bob knocking on the same woman’s door for years until she finally came to church and now is on staff at Mission Arlington. When asked if that’s Victor’s story too, the 12-year-old replied, “Not yet, but it will be!” They are excited about seeing people come to Christ.
What about the apartment complex where it all began? Since then, Westwood Village changed names and has new residents. The manager invited Mission Arlington to start a new Bible Study. Again, it has become a thriving church. And the Word goes on.
SJ Stovall was born in Lufkin, Texas in September of 1925. His parents couldn’t decide on a given name for their son, so they wrote his father’s initials – “SJ” – on his birth certificate as a temporary solution. What was temporary, however, became permanent, when the parents didn’t change the birth certificate, or his name. In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, SJ said that he guessed he was thirteen before he “realized that SJ – my father’s initials – didn’t stand for anything.” When SJ would tell that story to many of us around “Mission Arlington®,” he would always have a “twinkle in his eye,” and a broad smile. He loved to tell that story, especially when people asked him (often repeatedly) what those initials stood for.
While it is true, according to SJ, that his initials “didn’t stand for anything,” nothing could have been further from the truth when it came to the man that he was, and the way that he lived his life. A dedicated public servant, SJ served as both a city councilman, and Mayor of Arlington, investing more than two decades of his life to serve his community effectively. In addition to his work with the City of Arlington, SJ was on the board of trustees for Arlington Memorial hospital, and also, the President of the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
He was also a dedicated man of faith. A long time member of and leader in First Baptist Church, Arlington, the Burgins and Stovalls became friends along the way. Together, they celebrated Christmas Eve, birthdays, and other events through the years. The Burgin brothers, both on staff at Mission Arlington®, and Jean Cagle, Director of the Allan Saxe Dental Clinic, remember those annual gatherings fondly. It was natural, therefore, under God’s leadership, for Mayor Stovall to become the founder and the chair of Mission Metroplex, Inc. which was formed to support and under-gird the work of Mission Arlington® in 1990. He served in that role for close to two decades. Under his leadership, the work of Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex grew significantly.
Because of SJ’s relationship with the Lord, he had a winsome way about him. He always made it a point to provide encouragement to the staff of Mission Arlington®. He especially admired the student interns, called “Summer Missionaries,” young people from 16-23 years of age, who gave their summers free of charge to serve the Lord at the mission. Because of that, SJ, or “the mayor,” as he was often called, created an annual breakfast to honor the missionaries. SJ would purchase the food, and on July 4th each year, the missionaries, staff, and other board members would enjoy the fresh fair provided, the fellowship, and then afterwards, a full-fledged parade. The numbers swelled over time to include many from one of Mission Arlington’s 349 congregations.
SJ Stovall passed away in July of 2010 at the age of 84. He lived his life well, and we continue to find inspiration from his dedication and his relationship with the Lord. Since that time, Mission Arlington® has continued the tradition of providing a treat for Summer Missionaries, and providing honor to these young people who have given of themselves so sacrificially here in our city. As we gather for breakfast this morning, many of us will remember SJ, and the difference he made.
Thank you, Mayor Stovall, and to God be the glory!
Melissa had been in Oklahoma for 14 years when she felt God nudging her back to Texas. Her life up to that point had not been easy, and she was traveling with nothing: no furniture, few clothes, and no rent money. Melissa says, “Some people come on their knees, but I was basically on my belly saying, ‘now what?’” However, a family she knew kindly offered her a place to stay until she could get back on her feet, so she came.
She applied for a job right away, and on the drive home, she saw Grace Street Church. The signs for “Celebrate Recovery” and “Christian Women’s Job Corps” caught her eye. The director of the CWJC, Julie, was there. They talked and prayed about Melissa’s journey and job application.
Within a week, she had a interview and was hired on the spot. On her first day off, she went back to the church to give a few donations and tell Julie her good news.
Next, it was time to move to her own place. Melissa met for breakfast with the leader of Celebrate Recovery, Paulette. They prayed together about an apartment. Within a week, Melissa found a safe place within her budget, but all her money went towards the deposit and rent leaving nothing for furniture or household items.
So off they went to Mission Arlington. Melissa spent three hours there visiting with some of the other Grace Street ministers, getting some food, and kitchenware. When she had the key to her apartment, the Mission delivered a bed, dresser and couch.
Melissa says, “I had grown up thinking the Bible was something really nice that sat on the coffee table.” And church, she says, was standing up, kneeling and sitting at the right time. But now that she has seen the real purpose of the church, she says she knows God in a whole new way.
Now, Melissa is at the church almost every day for a service, Celebrate Recovery, or Bible Study. She encourages everyone who is struggling, “Go spend some time at the Mission. Go visit with people who know the Bible and who want to live a certain way.”
“The more that I’m around the people at Grace Street and the Mission, I know that I’m okay. That I’m safe.”
While Tommy was attending Grace Street Church in Arlington many years ago, he felt the call to minister at Mission Arlington®, but says, “I knew I could not be there like I was.” At the time, Tommy struggled with a serious drinking problem. During this time, he met with his pastors and Tillie Burgin. Tillie challenged him to stop drinking and get his life back together. That night, he went home and did not drink, but he didn’t sleep either.
While the struggle continued, Tommy sought out people from his past and made amends where needed. After visiting with the last person on his list, Tommy says God took the urge to drink away. Although he had tried several 12-step programs, he says he had always joined the program at someone else’s urging and found no long term success. But this time, God truly transformed his life, and Tommy says, “Tillie was instrumental in my sobriety.”
Shortly after, Tommy began dating Noeleen, and they were married within 3 months. Now, 15 years later, Tommy and Noeleen work full-time at Mission Arlington®. At Grace Street Church, he is a maintenance man, audio-visual expert, praise team member, Sunday School teacher, and more. During the day at Mission Arlington®, he is a truck driver, picking up and delivering donations.
The time in the truck is not wasted by any means. Tommy calls his truck the “mobile tabernacle” where he can share his faith with the people who ride along with him. Often, if Tommy finds himself talking with one who has had a similar experience, the rider is more likely to listen because of Tommy’s past problems and how God is obviously at work in his life today.
We thank God for Tommy and for the path that led him here. His life is a true testimony to God’s power.
Noeleen first visited Mission Arlington® in 1999 on a date. Her new boyfriend invited her to his church, Grace Street Fellowship, a ministry of Mission Arlington®, which was meeting in a school at the time. She immediately fell in love with the people, eventually fell in love with and married the boyfriend, and they both still work at the church to this day.
A few years later, driving to her job at an auto parts store, Noeleen heard God say, “I am with you.” She immediately felt the need to go talk with Tillie about working full time at Mission Arlington®. The next weekend, they visited and Tillie explained that there were no positions available, but they would wait and see what God would do. Within 15 minutes, another staff member gave her two week’s notice, and Noeleen had a new job.
If a truck has ever visited your home to pick up a donation, Noeleen prayed for you. In addition to teaching and ministering at Grace Street, she works in dispatch where she lays out the pickups every morning and prays for the donors, drivers, and trucks. She says everyday is a miracle, because at the beginning of the day, there are only two drivers that she is sure will come because they are on the staff. “God has to bring the people, and you don’t know who is going to come” she says. Everyone else that comes is a volunteer, and there is no guarantee that any one person will come.
Even so, by 7:00 every night, the donations have been picked up, furniture has been delivered to people who need it, and it’s all thanks to God.
Noeleen also enjoys the moments she has with the volunteer drivers as they are on their way in and out of her office. There is not always time to talk at length about Christ, but little by little, Noeleen is building trust with the drivers, greeting them with a smile. She says when the volunteers have questions about her faith, she is always ready to with a response. People know her faith is sincere.
We are grateful that the Lord brought Noeleen our way.