We’ve just finished the Christmas season at Mission Arlington®. How beautiful it was to see the outpouring of love as the community gave toys and gifts to make someone else’s Christmas special.
On a Saturday in December, Emily, a Bible Study leader in central Arlington, took a group of volunteers and a truckload of bicycles to deliver in the apartment complex where she minsters. Emily knocked on a few doors so people could come pick put the right sized bikes for their children. It didn’t take long until families were coming to the clubhouse from all around to see the bikes.
One young girl, Brisa, came to the clubhouse to see the bicycles. Brisa has been attending the After School program for years but has recently been more involved and learned all her memory verses this year. Emily encouraged her to pick out whichever bicycle she wanted.
“What about my sister?” she replied.
Emily assured her that her sister could get a bike, too.
The girl insisted that she find a bike for her sister first.
With her sister’s bike safely put away, Emily offered to help Brisa find the right bike for her.
“But, what about my other sister?” Brisa asked.
Emily teared up a bit, and they both searched until she found the perfect bike for her three-year-old sister.
With her younger two siblings taken care of, Brisa finally felt comfortable getting a bike for herself. All the volunteers within earshot helped search and made sure Brisa got the perfect bike.
What a blessing to see God’s love in the selfless actions of a young girl. Thank you to everyone who gave and who continue to give in this new year. Your donations are making a difference across this city, one life at a time
Amy was 13 years old when she moved to Arlington with her parents and two sisters. She lived in an apartment complex in east Arlington where a Mission Arlington® Bible Study met just outside her door. In the cold and heat, Amy and her sisters attended faithfully. Over the years, Mission Arlington® helped with many things, from Christmas presents to rides to school, but most importantly, at that Bible Study Amy learned that God loved her and accepted Christ as her savior.
Amy made it through her teenage years, graduated High School, and now almost 20 years later, has a family of her own. When they first moved into their own apartment, she was pleased to see that Mission Arlington® had a Bible Study there also. She says, “I did that when I was younger. I thought it was really cool my kids could take part, too.” Her children attend a tutoring program during the week, and the whole family goes to Bible Study on Wednesday and Sundays.
It has not been an easy road. Amy lives with diabetes, and has since she was a child. When her parents passed away in 2010 and 2012, it was a real struggle to understand why she lost them at such a young age. Amy’s son has a rare hip disorder that is usually debilitating, ending with the patient in a wheelchair. So far he is still walking on his own, although no one knows what the future holds. After working as a retail manager for 20 years, her husband has found himself unemployed. He’s been interviewing everywhere and dropping off applications and is still waiting to hear back.
In spite of all this, Amy knows God is faithful. This year, in particular, she knows God has been working in her family. Both her children were baptized in 2014, they seem happier than they have ever been, and this Holiday season they plan to give back by volunteering at Mission Arlington®. She wants her kids to learn to help others.
Because when you have God’s love, Amy says “You share it.”
While God calls some to be part of Mission Arlington for a lifetime, some people come just for a season, and then God directs them elsewhere. It’s always bittersweet when someone leaves. Bitter because we want them to stay, but sweet because they are moving in a direction God has ordained.
Ten years ago, Keyla held an important position at BOLSA, the Mexican Stock Exchange. While happy with her job, she knew God wanted her to serve. So when the pastor at her church became ill, Keyla substituted one Sunday. She says as she dug into God’s Word to prepare, she felt his presence and was shocked by the things in the Bible that she had never noticed before. Her passion for God began to grow.
Following God’s lead, she moved to attend seminary in Dallas. They often sang “One Pure and Holy Passion,” and she prayed that God would increase her desire for him. She went on to study education at Dallas Baptist University where God put her in a class with a professor who was also a pastor at Mission Arlington.
Soon after that connection, Keyla visited a Mission Arlington congregation, Grace Street Church, with an invitation to lead the children’s ministry. In the beginning, she could not see how she could relate to the people because she came from such a different life. But one Sunday, as another teacher took her to the children’s department and shared each child’s background, Keyla’s heart broke. She accepted the position. God stretched her and grew her in ways she did not expect.
Five years later, Keyla is married with one child and one on the way. God has provided her and her husband, Stephen, with a new job opportunity in Odessa, and this is their last week serving at Mission Arlington. Last week, Keyla attended her last monthly staff meeting, and the closing song, “One Pure and Holy Passion,” reminded her of the journey that led her here and that God will continue to lead if she will just follow.
One of the most special blessings God has given Mission Arlington® is Anna. Anna started at Mission Arlington® when she was just a few days old. She would sleep in a basket next to her mom’s desk. Anna’s dad, mom, and brother (Tim, Debbie, and Nathanael) all work at Mission Arlington® too.
Growing up around Mission Arlington®, participating in nearly every Mission activity year-round, it didn’t take long before Anna wanted to help. One of her first assignments at Mission Arlington® was puppeteer at the summer backyard Bible club, Rainbow Express. She loved being with the other children and soaked up the Bible teaching she heard.
Her most recent role is the one she enjoys the most. Anna participates in a work program with her school. Each day she and her class visit sites around the city gaining experience in a variety of settings. Once per week, the class works in the clothing room at Mission Arlington®, sorting clothes, assisting shoppers, cleaning, and straightening.
The Mission is Anna’s second home, so when her class works, she feels a deep sense of responsibility for the clothing room and the people she serves. When she’s not in school, you can probably find her helping in the clothing room just for fun.
While Anna loves helping “behind the scenes,” she is equally comfortable leading music on Sunday mornings at South Street Church. She picks the songs, stands in front of everyone, and sings. The congregation calls her a blessing.
She has also been known to leave notes with Bible verses in the Mission Arlington® staff’s mailboxes. It’s always encouraging to find a note from Anna
Anna turned 17 this month. We thank God for the day he gave us Anna and for how he has found the perfect matches for her skills and talents.
When Rebecca began attending seminary in Fort Worth, she needed a job and wanted to do something ministry-centered. She found herself on the “Tillie Tour” one Sunday morning. After seeing the different Bible Studies, she spoke with Tillie one-on-one. She knew that the amount of money that Mission Arlington® could offer would not cover her expenses, but that mattered very little.
She showed up to work the next day and has stayed for sixteen years. God had other plans for how to pay for Rebecca’s living expenses, and he did it by freeing her to focus on the ministry.
Rebecca was assigned to a North Arlington apartment complex. Initially, she didn’t see how she fit at that complex as she didn’t speak the same language as most of the residents. She says it was a spiritually dark place. The majority of the teenagers were in gangs and had no interest in church, but Rebecca stayed put.
Slowly, Rebecca built relationships with the people, starting with a Sunday Bible Study and an afterschool tutoring program. Eventually, she began an ESL class for the adults and, when she had picked up at little Spanish, she invited the adults to a mid-week Bible Study in their own language.
Now, through God’s grace, this apartment community is completely different. The mothers stop by to chat with Rebecca during tutoring. The teenagers hang out with Rebecca on Friday nights volunteering at Mission Arlington® and learning about God’s word.
When she is not at the apartments, Rebecca writes curriculum that Mission Arlington® Bible Studies, and churches in other states and countries, use. All the curriculum is available here, and, soon, will be indexed in a new way. It will be easier to find the exact topic or lesson you need. Check back soon to explore this new feature.
If you come by Mission Arlington® enough, you will start to notice some of the staff members look very much like each other. It could be from the years of being together as most of the staff have been working side by side for decades. But in some cases, yes, your hunch is correct: they really are related.
Mariescha and Cassie’s parents began volunteering at Mission Arlington when Cassie was 5 and before Mariescha was even born, so the sisters have a combined 55 years of ministry experience.
When Mariescha and Cassie were old enough to make a choice about where to spend their Sunday mornings, they started teaching in the apartment ministries. Mariescha still teaches where she started, at South Street Church, but she’s added several other ministry points in the past years.
Cassie ministers at an east Arlington apartment complex and makes home visits across the city, trying to connect people to a Bible Study near them. As they finished school, they both took on responsibilities within the Mission office, helping things to run smoothly behind the scenes so that other Bible Study leaders can reach out effectively.
“When you grow up actively ministering in the community, you don’t know what else to do on Sundays, or any weekday for that matter,” Cassie says. Last year, she had to spend a few months away for a medical concern and says it felt odd not teaching a Bible class somewhere.
Why did they stay? Mariescha says it best, “Mission Arlington® is both the safest and most challenging place I’ve ever been. Challenging because we live missionally, and the parts of you that aren’t surrendered to Christ don’t stay that way for long. Safest because you really are surrounded by a family that loves you as Jesus does.”
Every Sunday afternoon at 4:00, Mission Arlington®’s Bible Study workers gather to worship together and encourage each other after their morning services in the community. Barbara did not attend the first 4:00 meeting 29 years ago, but she was there for the second.
Barbara always felt called to missions. She wanted to share Christ with the world. When she shared her feelings with Tillie Burgin, Tillie suggested she come see what God was beginning at Mission Arlington.
Over the past three decades, Barbara has taught Bible Study in several apartment communities. She currently lives in the complex where she ministers which means she is neighbors with all her church members. The church building is the clubhouse of the apartment complex.
This living arrangement gives her opportunities to be with her people when they need her most. For example, one night last month she was startled by a phone call and a simultaneous knock on her front door. It was a message that a church member’s mother had suddenly passed away.
Barbara wanted to visit and pray with the family, and all she had to do was put her shoes on and walk across the courtyard. By the time she got there, four other members were already there, comforting the bereaved daughter. “Our church was already being a church to her,” Barbara says.
Barbara not only teaches Bible Study with Mission Arlington®. She is also on staff full-time. You will likely see her “outback” taking donations and helping load trucks with furniture for delivery. She says, “Even on my worst day, I know what God has called me to do. That’s my anchor.” She’s found a place where she can work, minister, and live among the people – all for the glory of God.
Although Mandy grew up in Fort Worth, she did not hear of Mission Arlington® until she was attending Oklahoma Baptist University. She felt called to participate in summer missions and a college friend recommended Mission Arlington® because she had been a Summer Missionary before. So Mandy applied and spent a summer serving here.
By the end of the summer, Mandy had grown to love the Mission. She says it’s the first place she really felt challenged to fully commit to God 100% of the time. Mandy returned to Oklahoma to finish school, but anytime she came back to visit her family in Fort Worth, she would stop by the Mission office to help, even if it was just for a day or a week. And when it was time to graduate, God directed her back to work here full time.
Now she works “outback” collecting donations throughout the day and teaches Bible Study three times per week at an east Arlington apartment complex. She says while she has been teaching in a Sunday School setting since she was a teenager, teaching at the apartment complex has been more fulfilling because she ministers to the whole family.
For example, several parents attend her mid-week Bible Study for teenagers. Plus, being able to meet each family’s needs through the services available at Mission Arlington helps her dig in. When a family needs food, clothes, furniture, counseling, medical or dental care, Mandy can easily connect them with those resources while sharing the love of Jesus.
Thank you for the way you give and pray so that Mandy and other Bible Study leaders like her can minister effectively in this community.
Kayla first came to Mission Arlington® as a Summer Missionary in 2003, her sophomore year of college. She worked each day caring for the community and teaching people about Christ. When August came, she cried because she could not stay. She returned to Mississippi to finish college and see what God had next for her life, which included finishing school, finding a job and getting married.
In 2010, when her husband became a youth minister, they planned their first mission trip. Kayla suggested they bring the youth to Mission Arlington®. The youth didn’t know much about Mission Arlington® and they inundated Kayla with questions about exactly what it would be like. Kayla explained over and over that they just had to come and trust that it would be a life-changing experience
Since then, Kayla and her husband’s youth group has come on week-long trips for four summers and one Christmas to serve the people of Arlington. They lead Rainbow Expresses (backyard Bible clubs) and work at the main office doing “behind the scenes” tasks. Kayla prays that the teenagers will see their time in Arlington as more than just a mission trip but as a springboard to change their lifestyle and be “on mission” for Christ wherever they are Kayla says the teens often have a list of complaints as the work is hard and Texas summers are hot.
But they know sharing Jesus with another life is what’s really important. When they get home, they only have one thing to say: “I can’t wait to go back
Please pray for the groups that are visiting Mission Arlington this summer. Hundreds are being saved because of their witness in this community.
Marla accepted Christ as a child and began attending a Mission Arlington® Bible Study in her apartment community last year. The Bible Study leader saw her walking home, offered her a ride, and invited her to church.
Last spring, Marla started teaching the children at the apartment Bible Study. “They ask great questions. That’s my favorite part.” Marla says. What a joy helping them grow in their faith!
Recently, an apartment manager in Fort Worth called Mission Arlington®. The manager explained that the people in her complex desperately needed a weekly Bible Study. They had a vacant apartment to use as a meeting place. Marla and another worker, Lisa, started a new Bible Study at the Fort Worth location right away.
After a few weeks, when Lisa and Marla stopped by the leasing office of the new complex, they met a new member of the apartment management team. He was interested in hearing what Mission Arlington® does, so they explained sharing the love of Jesus each week with the residents. The new team member loved the idea and asked if Lisa and Marla could also teach at another community down the road.
Now, Marla and Lisa have divided and multiplied themselves. They still teach together on Sunday mornings at Marla’s complex, then, during the week, they take a set of teenager sisters with them and split between the two new properties in Fort Worth.
One Sunday morning Bible Study is now three Bible Studies, and the teenage sisters are learning to lead as they go. More people are being reached for Christ because Marla and the team was willing to answer the call.
There are even more apartment communities that currently need Bible Study teachers. If you would like more information, please contact Tillie Burgin at 817-277-6620.