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.
After Dr. Michael McCullough graduated from medical school and began his gynecology and obstetrics practice, he felt as though something was missing. He enjoyed medicine and his work took up plenty of his time, but he knew he should be doing more.
Explaining his feelings to a fellow physician, his friend recommended volunteering at Mission Arlington® to give back. He came to try it out and, this month, celebrated 20 years of volunteering.
Dr. McCullough sees more that 200 gynecological patients each year at no charge. He’s able to give free sample medications, treat many disorders, and even do free surgeries through a partnership with a local hospital.
One former patient wrote this message in honor of Dr. McCullough’s 20th anniversary:
It is wonderful how someone can take his time and volunteer to help others without asking for anything in return. I saw Dr. McCullough once, and that’s all it took to see that he is truly a great doctor. He helped me that day in more ways than one…I can’t thank him enough for all the work and time he puts into help, not just me, but others in the time of need. Thank you so much Dr. McCullough for all your help and for your 20 years of volunteer work to your community. May God bless you.
On his way home one Thursday, after seeing all of his Mission patients, a woman in the waiting room yelled out “Michael, Michael!” The doctor stopped, recognized her face and gave a hug. The woman said a few sentences excitedly in Spanish while Dr. McCullough tried to understand what she needed and how he could help. After a quick translation, he understood that the woman did not have a medical problem. He had helped her with a surgery in the past and she couldn’t let him walk by without a greeting.
We thank God for Dr. McCullough and his commitment to people in need. If you are interested in volunteering at the Bob Mann Medical Clinic, we need you! Please call 817-277-6620 and let us know you want to help.
Grace Street Fellowship, a Mission Arlington® congregation, has taken many shapes. It began in a house church and is now in its own large building at Pioneer and Fielder. Many of the early members have moved away and over the years, the staff has changed and grown.
But one member has always been there: Agatha.
Agatha moved from Oklahoma to Texas many years ago to help one of her daughters. Early on, Agatha visited Mission Arlington® and met Tillie Burgin. Mission Arlington helped get Agatha’s daughter back on her feet. Agatha started volunteering and attended the church when it was in a house on Grace Street.
She was the only member of her family attending for years. Her husband, Leonard, eventually joined her and attended until his death. Agatha has ten children, many grandchildren and many great-grandchildren who have attended or visited the church over the years. Generations of families will know Christ because of Agatha’s faithfulness.
When Agatha moved into an apartment complex near the church, the ladies at Grace Street felt called to start a Bible Study in that complex. Agatha went to work, knocking on doors, inviting neighbors. Since then, she has moved away, but the Bible Study is still going strong because of her faithfulness to invite people.
Agatha currently lives about forty minutes away and depends on a friend to get her to church, but she’s often the first one there. She says the place is so friendly, she wouldn’t miss it. Grace Street, she says, “feels like being at home.”
About ten years ago, Alma and Raul’s older daughter, Giovanna, 5, became very ill. She could not walk without a cane and was constantly weak. Throughout the difficulty, Alma did her best to make sure she and their two children went to church each Sunday. One week, her husband, Raul, who did not normally go to church, agreed to go himself so he could carry Giovanna around the church building.
While they were there, they saw a miracle. The people in the church prayed for Giovanna, and she was suddenly healed. She walked back to the car without assistance and her weakness never returned. From that moment on, Raul decided he ought to attend church.
Since that time, Raul and Alma had a relationship with God, but felt like they still lacked something. They switched churches so they could attend somewhere with a friend, Maria, and landed at a Mission Arlington® congregation, Heritage church.
Since joining Heritage, Raul and Alma have been faithful. Alma sings in the praise team; Raul gives rides to church, reads scripture, and contributes to his Sunday School class. They have three children now, all active and participating every time the church doors are open.
Their faith extends past the church doors as well. Last year, Alma was in a bad car accident. For days she worried about how to repair the car. She called her insurance company daily to see what they had decided, to no avail. Finally, Giovanna told her, “Mom, just put it in God’s hands.” Alma stopped calling and two days later, the insurance company called to assure her that they would pay for the damage to her car.
Last month, Raul had some pain that sent him to the clinic at Mission Arlington®. The preliminary tests suggested some type of cancer, and the family was concerned while the doctors ran more tests. In the end, it was not cancer, but a non-life threatening issue that would resolve with medication. Through the weeks of uncertainty, Raul and his family relied on God.
Throughout the concerns of life, this family has stayed committed to God and put their trust in him. Their heart is that others see God’s goodness, also. Giovanna’s heart aches when she talks about her lost friends at school, and the rest of the family shares their faith with neighbors and co-workers. What a blessing to have this family as part of the Mission Arlington® family.
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.”