[Editor’s Note: Allison Sodek is a college student who volunteered with Mission Arlington® over her Christmas Break. She served with a team of students deployed by Go Now missions. This is her story, originally published here.]
Over Christmas break, I served as a Go Now missionary at Mission Arlington. God used me in miraculous ways on the mission field, which included Him using my spiritual gifts of compassion and evangelism.
On the mission field, I was able to bring three people to faith through sharing God’s word and the Gospel. In the Bible, Jesus always meets their needs before sharing the Gospel with them. And that was my goal the entire time on the mission field. And God taught me how to be more compassionate towards people and how to bring people to faith through the use of the salvation prayer.
Here are the stories of the three people I brought to faith:
A woman came into the mission needing various things. I shared with her the Gospel and she seemed to understand it very well and to be very receptive. She explained to me that she wanted to be baptized again, dive into the Bible more and recommit herself to God. In a sense, she wanted to be reborn. I led her through prayer and connected her with Mrs. Tillie, the executive director of Mission Arlington. It was really exciting to see how other godly people planted that seed in her heart to come to me and confess that she wanted a relationship with God and to be reborn and put me in the place to lead her through it.
A Hispanic woman came into the mission. She spoke fairly good English. She needed various things. After filling out the forms with her to get the things she needed, I asked a question to gauge where she was spiritually. I could tell by the way she answered that she didn’t really know what I was talking about. I then asked her if I could share the Gospel with her. She said “yes!” I shared the Gospel with her through the use of the Three Circles model. She was very intrigued by it and never took her eyes off of me and the paper I was using to explain the Gospel. After I was done, I asked her if she wanted a relationship with God. I asked her a few times to make sure she was genuine about the decision. She kept on saying “Yes!” I then explained to her that I’ll lead you through prayer, but you also have to repeat after me because in the Bible it says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” I led her through prayer and got her connected with an apartment church and gave her a Bible that she could read on her own.
There was an African American man who came into the mission. He was a student at UTA. He came needing clothes, food and furniture. He was very open with me. He told me that he wanted to recommit his life to God. I led him through prayer and got him connected with an apartment church and gave him a Bible.
Allison Sodek is a Go Now missionary who served in Arlington over Christmas break.
Starting over feels good. 2019 has come to a close, and a new year lies before us with all its possibilities.
We are excited about the new year, and we love walking this journey with you. Your faithful support encourages us, and it makes a difference in the lives of real people in need. We love passing along what you provide, and treating people with dignity and respect in the process.
We love knowing that whatever the new year brings, we will walk through it together with one of the most generous and caring communities anywhere. In the middle of our 34th year, we’ve never been more grateful. We are also humbled by the privilege we have of serving the Lord in this community. As we share frequently,
Mission Arlington® belongs to God. This isn’t our story, but His. He had plans in place for this Ministry and for all who work here long before it happened. He started this mission, sustains us moment by moment, and He holds our future in His hands.
Our testimony is that “God has been faithful.” We see his heart at work here in so many ways. Sometimes that brings tears of joy, and at other times, smiles & laughter. We are humbled and honored to serve Him in this place, for His people.
Last week, a Rainbow covered our offices after a full Saturday, and we couldn’t help but stop to praise God for his faithfulness. We know that whatever comes our way in this new year, His promises are true, and His presence will go with us.
We love the promise of a new year. Today is the first day of a new start. We love it, and we love walking this journey with you. From the heart of our family to yours, Happy New Year!
There are so many treasures discovered during the Christmas Season at Mission Arlington®:
The volume of gifts which our community gives is treasure enough, but the specific gifts are, in and of themselves, a kind of treasure. From huge stuffed animals to footballs, to dolls, bikes, and so much more, our “Christmas Store” was filled to overflowing with brand new gifts. Each gift was purchased for the purpose of blessing a child. These gifts brought special joy to children across our community on Christmas morning – a true treasure to see. We are so grateful for each person who made these gifts possible.
People who Provided Gifts
The provision of enough gifts to provide for nearly 33,000 children is an extraordinary thing to experience. Gifts came from individuals, families, civic clubs, schools, small businesses, and corporations. Gifts came as part of a group project, or just from someone with a heart to give. Children were actually a big part of the gift-giving again this year. One young lady made something special, then sold it over the internet and used the proceeds to provide gifts for children in need. Other children participated in school drives, or gave up their birthday celebrations in lieu of gifts. We get to watch all of this happen.
Children who Received the Gifts
Ordinary people need help every now and then, including people from all walks of life. Over the past couple of weeks, more than 7,000 families came through our Christmas Store, and they have been among the most gracious and kind people we have met. What a privilege it has been to be there when they receive the gifts. One lady wrote: “Y’all blessed me soo many times when we were struggling so bad. I am forever grateful. Thank you.”
It took more than 7,000 volunteers over a two week time-span to make the Christmas Store work. Volunteers came from all across North Texas, and from all walks of life. Some were young, and some were “more seasoned.” Some came on their days off, and others came in a group from their place of employment. Volunteers came with energy, and with a heart to care for and to serve others in need – truly a treasure.
The Christmas Story
The “reason for the season,” the birth of God’s son, Jesus Christ at Christmas is the greatest treasure of the season. Mission Arlington’s Bible studies and congregations celebrated Advent, Christmas pageants, Christmas dinners, and candlelight services. In our Christmas Store, we shared Luke 2 in multiple languages, and 1225 people made a spiritual decision of some kind. 317 adults became Christ-followers – a treasure indeed.
We treasure walking this journey with you all year long, but especially at Christmas. We are grateful for you.
We hope you enjoy taking a look into our Christmas Store by viewing this short video above, published by our friends at the City of Arlington. Below are some cute stuffed animals on a shelf, provided by the Six Flags family for the children at Mission Arlington®. The Christmas Store stays open every day, excluding Sundays, from 10 to 6 through Saturday, December 21st. The store opens again on Monday, December 23rd, from 10 to noon. Please come see us.
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 60 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, (now Parkview Fellowship), 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. She also works alongside her husband Matt, and her family, at Heritage Church, a Mission Arlington congregation in central Arlington. As Cassie and Mariescha 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. A few years ago, 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.”
Originally Published September 2014.
A Successful Fall Festival
2,000 children (with their families) came to our Fall Festival this past Saturday, October 26th.
The Festival is so much fun. Children come dressed up in so many ways – some as animals, and others as characters from various movies, and so much more.
Volunteers bring such enthusiasm when they come too – whether it is cooking hot dogs, or loading kids onto the hay ride, driving a bus, or making sure the families get the food they need for the day.
The Fall Festival has been a part of the Mission Arlington® tradition for a long time. Various volunteers remember when the festival was located somewhere else, when it was smaller, or when something funny happened in year’s gone by. There is always a lot of laughter and love connected with this event.
Add a dash of cool weather like we had on Saturday, and it forms a perfect day.
As fun as all of this is – with the hay rides, bounce houses, good food, carnival prizes, and fellowship, what delights us most is the sense of God’s presence in and all around the place. Jesus taught his followers to have the heart of children, and to provide them with special care. We are so pleased that the Festival does exactly that.
Thank you so much!
We are so grateful for each of you who supported these efforts with your prayers, your time, and your gifts.
Central Bible Church did something bold and beautiful this past Sunday. Instead of “coming to church,” this beautiful congregation decided to “be the church.” After a sermon series by Pastor David Daniels called “Bridges,” the church “stepped out in faith to build Gospel connections with Mission Arlington Congregations. Central’ services were cancelled on Sunday morning, and over 1,100 people came out to serve with Mission Arlington’s Bible Studies and congregations. Another 300 came to our downtown campus to help sort food, clothes, household items, furniture, and so much more.
In each of Mission Arlington’s Bible study locations, Central volunteers knocked on doors all across the apartment communities. This was quite an effort in itself. They invited children, youth, and adults to join them in an outreach Bible study. People responded in a huge way to these personal invitations. Food, music, crafts, games, & Bible stories formed the core of the morning, plus lots of smiles, hugs, and loving connections. People heard about the Lord, and they saw God’s love up close through these church volunteers. What an incredible day!
Mission Arlington’s Bible study leaders were so excited about the morning when they reported what the Lord had accomplished through these wonderful teams of support from the church. God used these volunteers from Central to encourage the Mission Arlington® leaders who serve in these fields every week. We understand that the volunteers from Central were blessed as well. It was a beautiful day.
We want to express our gratitude to each volunteer who risked, getting outside of their comfort zones this past Sunday. We want to say a word of thanks to Bible study leaders who serve so faithfully week in and week out.
Please keep the Mission Arlington® family in your prayers. As Jesus said in Matthew 9, the fields are “white unto harvest, but the laborers are few.” We are so thankful this incredible day of love from this past Sunday. Please pray that more and more believers all across our community will venture out with us to “take church to the people.” A beautiful bridge indeed!
Mission Arlington® is a God-driven organization. Each volunteer and staff member does their best to see how we can help each life find what they need and draw closer to God. Often, it takes teamwork from many parts of the body to help meet the needs of one life.
This past year, a phone volunteer named Kelly answered the phone to hear a woman in distress. Through tears, the woman asked if someone could pray for her. The volunteer panicked for a moment, looking for a staff member who could pray over the phone, but quickly realized, “It’s me. I need to do this.” Kelly took about 10 minutes praying with this woman and listening to her story.
In the course of conversation, Kelly realized the caller lived in Dallas, not Arlington. But what made her think to call Mission Arlington®? The caller explained, “I used to live in Arlington, and you guys helped me once.”
Just because someone was nice to her, she felt Jesus’ love, and knew she could call for prayer.
After the call, Mission Arlington® staff was able to give the woman’s phone number to the Dallas police department, who arrived within minutes to check on this young woman in person and help her with much needed resources.
We are so grateful for sensitive volunteers and important partnerships across this Metroplex that ensure needs are meet – physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional needs – so that people can be right with God.
Originally published January 9th, 2019.
Whitney first came to Mission Arlington® at age 8 when her mom started working in the childcare. She and her brother grew up going to Mission Arlington® Bible Studies, doing Rainbow Express over the summer, and Whitney started teaching at an east Arlington complex when she was 12 years old.
After she graduated from high school, Whitney married and moved to North Carolina. After a time, Whitney knew the marriage was not healthy. Her husband had left the faith. Whitney felt God telling her to come home to Texas, but, worried about what people might say or think, she stayed in North Carolina. “My mom was telling me, ‘Come home, it doesn’t matter, just come home.’ and all it took was Tillie calling me saying, ‘Come home. We miss you.’” Whitney says she started crying and knew she had a place back in Texas where people would love her unconditionally.
When she came back, Whitney stopped by the Mission to bring her mom lunch, and Tillie chatted with her. Tillie told her that another Bible Study leader had just left and that she really needed Whitney to fill in the gap.
So for two years, Whitney has lived and done church at an apartment community. The first year, she says, was very difficult. Someone broke into the church apartment once per month.
But one day, an older woman came to Bible Study, the first adult that had attended since Whitney arrived. At first, the woman was upset, struggling, and embarrassed to share, until finally the woman blurted out, “I’m going through a really bad divorce and I need prayer…I know you’re so young, you can’t relate.” Whitney said, “I really hadn’t gotten to share that with anyone. That opened the door, and I had to say something.” They set up a regular time to pray together and ministered to each other that way.
From that moment, Whitney told God, “Okay – I know this is all you. This is totally where I need to be.”
Since then, Whitney met her new husband and has a brand new life. She works in the food pantry daily, sorting and preparing food for all the people that come each day. Her daughters are a part of Mission Arlington, too, working alongside their mom. Through a few tears, Whitney says, “For my daughters, I wish this could be a family tradition because of how much it blesses me.”
God brought Whitney home, and Mission Arlington® is stronger, people are coming to Christ, because she followed him.
[Originally published October 9th, 2016.]
[Editors Note: The text below was taken directly from the program for Commencement from Dallas Baptist University on the occasion of Graduation Services for DBU on August 9th, 2019. On that day, the University bestowed on Bob Burgin an honorary doctorate.]
“Missionary, educator, administrator, and pastor, Bob Burgin shines as an outstanding example of Christian leadership, faith in God, and service to others. Known for his kind and caring disposition, Bob is beloved by students, colleagues, and congregants. His missionary heart for the lost and needy around the world and for those in his own community of Arlington reflects the character of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Bob Burgin grew up in Jewett, Texas, in Leon County. He met his wife, Tillie, at Arlington State College (now UTA), and the two were married in 1956 at Arlington’s First Baptist Church. They both graduated with degrees in education and went on to complete master’s degrees from North Texas State in Denton (now UNT).
Bob started teaching math at Carter Junior High in 1960, but after he and Tillie had their two sons, Jim and Rick, the Burgins felt called to the mission field to serve as Southern Baptist missionaries at Korea Baptist College and Korea Christian Academy. When they returned to Arlington in the 1970s, Bob became assistant principal of Hutcheson Junior High for one year, Gunn Junior High for four years, and Nichols Junior High for three years before becoming Nichols’ principal in 1982. In 1989, he was appointed as principal of Arlington High until his retirement from AISD.
Bob jointed the Dallas Baptist University faculty in 1999 as Associate Dean, Director of Secondary Education, and Assistant Professor in the College of Education. Professor Burgin is admired by his students for his kind demeanor and his genuine care for their educational success. He was honored as an Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year in 2007-8 and was selected by his colleagues to serve for a term as President of Faculty Council.
When the Burgins returned from Korea, they also felt a burden for their city and started praying for ways to live missionally right where they were. This birthed a long season of prayer, seven years to be exact, that involved several home prayer teams across the city. First Baptist Church of Arlington also joined the Burgins in their call and appointed Tillie as their minister of missions in 1986. From there, the Burgins had a vision to start Bible studies in apartments in the Arlington community, and after only three months they were already serving 300 people.
This ministry later grew and developed into what is now Mission Arlington®. In its 33rd year of service, this Christ-centered, award winning non-profit ministry provides free health and dental care, counseling services, household donations, and a clothing and food bank for the needy of Arlington. It also hosts Bible clubs and summer camps for children, and coordinates over 350 home church Bible studies across the city each week with thousands in attendance, taking the church to the people in obedience to the Great Commission. Bob assists Tillie, who serves as the Directo of Mission Arlington®, and for over 20 years, he has pastored the apartment church that is now Parkview Church. Burgin Elementary School in Arlington was established in honor of the impact the Burgins have made on the city.
Professor Burgin continues to teach education courses at DBU as an adjunct professor while partnering with his wife in the ongoing work of Mission Arlington®. He and Tillie have been married for 63 years. Their two sons, Rick and Jim, are each married with children and have been actively involved in ministry with their parents at Mission Arlington.”