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.
Karen grew up attending a Mission Arlington® Bible Study at her apartment complex and now teaches other children about the love of Christ throughout the week. At the end of the school year, her Wednesday night class had about sixty boys each week, but as summer began the boys stopped coming.
“One week we only had five,” Karen remembers. She says she would see her kids walking off into the neighborhood and wanted to follow them to discover where they were going and why they stopped coming. It broke her heart to see them leave.
Instead of packing up and moving to a new neighborhood or “taking the summer off” or any number of other options, Karen felt God calling her to do more to encourage the children to come back – and a soccer team was born.
Karen has plenty going on in her life. She has a job and a son. When God called her to add on the role of “soccer coach,” she didn’t have extra time. She didn’t even have a soccer ball. But while God supplied her with energy, the other staff members at Mission Arlington were on the lookout for donated cleats, cones, and jerseys.
Now on Wednesday nights, the parents and children gather to worship in their small central Arlington church. After breaking into their classes by age group, they teach the Bible, then Karen and another teacher stay extra late to practice and play soccer with dozens of excited children. Many of the boys have come back.
The children are learning the Bible. They are learning that Karen loves them, and, most of all, they are learning that Jesus loves them. Thanks to God that Karen chose to go the extra mile and not let these children slip away.
Summer Missionaries leave their homes to follow God’s call on their life. They are 16-27 years old, and they serve here at Mission Arlington® for part, or for all, of the summer. These incredible young people volunteer their time, working 61/2 days each week, and 10-12 hour days while they are here.
Their love for the Lord inspires us, and they make such a difference here. One of our student missionaries has been blogging about her experience. Here name is Summer.
Recently, Summer felt God calling her to be more mission minded and, through the advice of her pastor, pursued several mission options for summer break until only one door remained open. She now finds herself serving at Mission Arlington®.
Daily she is working side-by-side with a full-time Mission Arlington® missionary, doing everything that missionary does. From leading Bible Studies to delivering food and even meeting with apartment managers to schedule activities, she will experience many sides of multi-housing ministry.
This one paragraph from Summer’s blog tells you what you need to know about this dedicated summer missionary, and about the heart of summer missions work here at Mission Arlington®.
We serve a magnificent God with a strong hand and incredible providence. I cannot even begin to comprehend it or worship Him properly for it. I can’t stop praising Him for sending me to Mission Arlington®.
I can’t stop praising Him for the work that He is doing. Not only in my life, but in the lives of people around me and in the world. His will is perfectly orchestrated, and He is providing so much here in so many ways all for the praise of His name. And His joy brings us strength.
We are pleased to share Summer’s blog which chronicles how God is working in her life during her time here. You can scroll through the several articles she has already published. Enjoy!
The Mississippi College BSM (Baptist Student Ministries) assigned Heather to work at Mission Arlington® the summer after her freshman year. She spent that summer the way all our Summer Missionaries do: working at the office, helping sort donations, and teaching Bible Studies in the community. When the summer was over, she went back home to finish her college career, telling all her friends how much she enjoyed the ministry.
A few years later, with school behind her, Heather considered where she might want to work. Knowing she wanted to serve God and serve people, a friend reminded her how Heather had raved about Mission Arlington® a few years before. God was tugging Heather’s heart back to Arlington.
A short time later, Heather returned to Texas and picked up where she had left off. She now coordinates several Bible Studies on the north side of Arlington. She says, “I am so blessed to have a job where I get to share Jesus with kids like this. It is such a privilege to lead families to the knowledge and love that God has for them.”
Appropriately, Heather is also one of the primary contacts for the new Summer Missionaries that come each year. She helps them feel at home and prepares them to minister during their time here. Most importantly, she prays daily for them to be effective ministers.
This year, 28 missionaries are serving at Mission Arlington® from 11 different states. Please join us in praying for them as God guides their summer.
Cesar began attending a Bible Study in his apartment complex when he was 4 years old. The Mission Arlington pastors would always knock on his door to invite his family and to bring bread. Cesar says he thinks his mom trusted the church leaders because of the bread, so she sent her kids to the services.
Even though the church met in a tiny apartment for many years, that’s the place that the people learned to pray, to love one another, to read and use a Bible, and to live in peace. Cesar says “All my favorite childhood memories are at Heritage Church.”
Cesar accepted Christ at age 8 when his Bible Study took a trip to a Billy Graham Crusade. He was baptized and really chose to follow Christ day-to-day two years ago. About that time, he came to work at Mission Arlington® full time and began leading Heritage Church as the previous leaders moved away. He teaches all different ages throughout the week to pray and love just the way he was taught..
When he’s not at the church, you will find Cesar collecting and sorting your donations behind Mission Arlington®. He and the others in this area work outside in all kinds of weather. But even in the heat or rain, Cesar wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. He uses his day to do so much more than collect donations. Hundreds of people volunteer each week, and Cesar loves to hear their life stories.
While these volunteers might not be visiting the mission for a physical need, just by chatting for an afternoon, Cesar has found many people in the midst of a crisis. He says, “My biggest hope and prayer is that somehow I can be a light for those who are living in darkness.”
We are thankful for the day God brought Cesar to us and for the opportunities to share Jesus’ love each day.
Several years ago, Rick and Linda were living in east Arlington, both professed Christians, but not attending a church, not serving God, and not growing in him.
After their son was invited to a church near his school, he came back saying, “Mom, you’ve got to go to this church.” So Linda attended, and came back saying, “Rick, you’ve got to visit this church.” Since then, they have attended Grace Street Fellowship, a Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex congregation, and have found ways to serve people and grow in Christ.
Linda says she saw her relationship with Jesus become “a flowing river rather than pond scum.”
Rick has a job outside of the church, but at least two days per week, he cleans the community center. They both work in the church clothing room and run the coffee bar on Sundays to help everyone feel welcome. Linda spends the week making hospital visits and checking on people who have called in with needs, like prayer and food. Linda explains, “It’s just that opportunity we have to be there for people.”
These roles are particularly unusual for Linda who was so severely shy in college, it was literally considered a disability. But when you have a story to tell like the Gospel, it’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone. Rick and Linda both want people to know about the love God showed them, and that God has a place for everyone.
But don’t try to thank them for their service. Rick and Linda will turn it back to God. Rick says, “It’s nothing to boast about. We do it for God.”