About 11 years ago, Chad found himself in a hard place, but he found help and work at the Arlington Life Shelter and Mission Arlington®. He says he felt love during that time, but God had other plans, and Chad ended up leaving for several years. He had some more growing and changing to do.
While he was away, he completed nursing school and got married. “It never left. Tillie, Bob and Mission Arlington® never left the back of my mind. I knew something had happened here. I’m pretty sure this is where I found the meaning of Christ and love, definitely love.” Although he had not visited Mission Arlington® in many years, he found himself often telling his new wife the ways he had seen God working here. The seeds of love were planted and God was slowly bringing them to the surface. This went on until Chad bumped into Bob Burgin one night picking up chicken nuggets at Wendy’s.
They talked and, even more, Chad could not get the idea of returning to Mission Arlington® out of his head. It took 2 more years, but he did finally visit with Tillie again. Everything fell back into place at the right time. Now he’s working part-time at the Mission Arlington® Medical Clinic and is the full-time youth minister at Parkview Church. He talks about it like it’s the life he’s always wanted.
He says, “When you see Mission Arlington®, you see God. The love that’s expressed, the forgiveness, the grace, the dedication that everyone here shows. I realized that I didn’t have to be everything I thought I had to be. I didn’t have to be the best at this, this fake life, being someone I’m not. I really found myself in ‘not,” – in giving everything up and letting God have control.”
At the clinic, Chad says, apart from the medicine, he enjoys teaching the nursing students about relating to patients and sharing Christ with everyone who comes in. Opportunities abound.
At Parkview, God has grown the youth group from 3 very faithful students to more than 30, many who have no church background at all. They meet up on Saturdays to beautify the church grounds and volunteer at Mission Arlington®. Chad is teaching them the value of hard work and planting more seeds in kids who need it. It’s exciting to think about what God has in store for this next chapter of Chad’s life. He says, “God has had this purpose for for me. It was amazing to see it come to fruition.”
When Logan found himself on his way to spend a semester at Mission Arlington®, he says, “I felt like I had a responsibility to my team (at Go Now Missions). They were counting on me.” But, he wasn’t sure what his role at Mission Arlington® would be exactly or what he would be doing day to day. Reading other people’s testimonies online, Logan found most people said they had done a variety of things, so he came ready for anything.
When Logan arrived, he says he started assisting in several different Bible Studies, sorting donations, and monitoring the parking lots. He drove the Mission golf cart back and forth from the office to the parking lots so that people did not have to walk so far. Golf-cart driver was his favorite role. He says, “I saved that for last, because it was best.” Why? Because “I got to hear people’s stories.” On the way from the parking lot to the office he heard why they had come. On the way back he always asked if they had found what they needed.
Logan is on his way home. He’s applied for a couple of jobs related to his Manufacturing Engineering degree, and he’ll be glad to see his friends and family again. He sums up his plan like this, “I’ll see what God has in store and see where he’s leading me.”
And for anyone considering coming to volunteer for a few months, and wondering what you might be doing here, Logan has this advice, “Just come. Like Jesus says ‘Come and see.’”
Jon followed a friend to Arlington about 5 years ago and quickly fell in with the wrong crowd, making bad decisions which ended in jail time. On release, he says was invited to stay with a friend, but admits “that would have put me back in the life I was trying to leave.” So he wisely found a place to stay at the Arlington Life Shelter.
Jon stopped by Mission Arlington® one Thursday morning to ask Tillie if she knew of any addiction recovery groups. She told him about Celebrate Recovery and mentioned that, if he had time, she needed some help around the Mission that day. Could he help? He stayed all day, working hard, helping around the furniture delivery area. One of the Celebrate Recovery leaders was also volunteering that day, so at closing time, Jon rode with W.C. to his first Celebrate Recovery meeting.
Afterwards, the 3 mile walk back to the Life Shelter gave Jon time to think. He says he couldn’t stop smiling, “I felt a sense of actual purpose. The next day I came back…and I’ve been coming ever since.”
Jon is grateful for this new job, friendships, and support system. He mentions he has a difficult anniversary coming up: the tenth year since his mother’s death. This will be the first time in many years that he’s planning to cope in a healthy way. Jon says, “I’ve been trying to put my worries up to God and let him take care of it.”
On God placing him at Mission Arlington®, he says, “It’s been amazing…It’s been a blessing to me personally. Everything I’ve needed, from getting my birth certificate, to finding CR, to getting a job, but it’s also help me find my faith again. I’ve been here a couple of months now, and I couldn’t be happier.”
It started ten years ago when Maria and Pedro started sending their children, age 6 and 9, to a Mission Arlington® Bible Study. The parents did not care to attend, but they knew it was good for Yvonne and Eric to learn about God. But when Maria’s vision loss sent them to the emergency room, their lives changed in a dramatic way.
During that ER visit, the doctors found the brain tumor. Maria could not leave the hospital and stayed in intensive care for 3 months. After the swelling in her brain subsided, doctors tried to surgically remove the tumor. During the surgery, Pedro waited in the hospital, not sure if his wife would survive. No one was there to wait with him. He felt angry and alone.
Suddenly, someone he recognized showed up. They still do not know how this person knew when the surgery was nor how he walked in at just the right time, but the pastor from the Bible Study the children attended walked in just as the nurses had taken Maria back. He prayed with Pedro and sat with him for a while. Pedro says he felt so much peace when the pastor came. Maria came through the surgery and starting attending church faithfully the first Sunday she was able.
Maria says, “I felt so happy. I felt like I was part of family.” She knew many people at the church had prayed for her. She started singing on the praise team.
A year later, another tumor had formed – a different type. “The nightmare returned,” Maria says. But, surgery was not an immediate need. They could watch and wait, so that’s what they did for 7 years. Maria says the second surgery was different from the first. “There was pain, and some worry – but nothing like before. Because we were stronger? No. Because God works.”
It’s been a year and a half since the last surgery. Maria still has to have scans to check for any new tumors. Days are not always easy, but their family is united, and they have the love and support of their church, where they still faithfully attend. They all have a deeper relationship with God. Their daughter Yvonne says the experience taught her how to pray. “I didn’t really talk to God until then. And I found out he does listen to you. He has blessed us so much.”
Such beauty and growth from a life-threatening event can only come from God. We are so grateful for this faithful family.
Originally published April 3rd, 2016.
Years ago, God fashioned a friendship that has stayed strong and is now an important part of Mission Arlington®.
Denny met Tillie Burgin when they both worked for the Arlington Independent School District in the early 80’s. A mutual friend suggested that they all meet for breakfast weekly, and that’s what all three of them did for years. Eventually, the meeting moved to Tillie’s office at Mission Arlington®. The friend moved away, but to this day, Denny and Tillie still meet together once per week to pray.
Over time, Denny and his wife Candy joined the Mission Metroplex® board, and about 15 years ago, Denny became the board chairman. Around that time, Denny also left the AISD to work at Dallas Baptist University where he still serves as the provost and is now an honorary alumnus.
Denny wanted to be a part of Mission Arlington® because the gospel is the backbone of everything the ministry does. He says, “The thing that made me want to be involved then, and makes me still want to be involved today, is that this ministry stays focused on Jesus Christ, serving people, helping them, and trying to draw them to Christ. It’s not focused on buildings or getting recognition. It is just focused on the gospel.”
Denny and Candy do far more than attend meetings. They pray for Mission Arlington® daily and volunteer at every special event. You’ll see them directing traffic and guiding families through the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Fall Festival. They dispatch volunteers to deliver turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. They stock and wrap presents at the Christmas Store. We are thankful that God brought them to be an integral part of the work at Mission Arlington®.
[This article was originally published in December of 2015]
Alex was building yachts in Italy when a friend introduced him to a real life in Christ. Alex began studying the Bible, soaking it in, when an acquaintance from his home country of Columbia caught his attention on social media. He sent her a friend request on a whim.
Irina, a lawyer in Columbia, had just ended a serious relationship with a man who had been unkind. She took a short trip with a friend to Europe to clear her head. While visiting Italy, she met Alex in person. Their friendship continued, and they were married shortly thereafter. Alex returned to Columbia, and they started their life together.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, God sent them to America. They moved here with no family, few connections.
Alex says he relates to Abraham being called to travel from the comfort of home and family to a new land. He wasn’t sure why God was asking them to leave, but they followed and found themselves in a new, difficult, blessed journey. He remembered how when Moses questioned God, God replied, “I AM.” This same God was telling them to move, so they moved.
While settling down in Arlington, they found themselves needing a little help. They visited the Mission. A woman named Lucy helped them and noticed they seemed so alone. After listening to their story, she invited them to church. They came the next Sunday and have scarcely missed a Sunday since.
At church, Alex and Irina found a solid place to study the Bible, to break bread with other believers, and to participate in outreach. Irina grew up in church, but says before she moved to America, she didn’t really understand what God and the church were about. But in the last few years, she has seen the church come together to pray for her when she’s in need and to meet physical needs as well. She remembers with a smile, “We needed a bed, and, who was it? Lucy’s son came in a truck and delivered us a bed.” Irina smiles again when she says, “And the dental clinic fixed my teeth. I’m not in pain anymore.”
The whole time, they have continued to give back and volunteer in their community as they are able. They invite people to church and are glad to share God’s word with their neighbors.
The stories of God’s provision and plan are more than will fit in this short space, but it is clear, Alex and Irina have found joy since God sent them here from across the globe.
Sue was living in Michigan, working at Michigan State University, but had one foot in Texas for many years, while her husband was President of UTA. When in Arlington, Sue and her husband would often stop by to visit and pray with Tillie. When in Michigan, Tillie would occasionally write her a note saying how she was praying for Sue and praying for her permanent move to Texas – before Sue had any intention of moving south.
After retiring from 20 years as a volunteer fireman and 25 years at General Motors, Morgan Hogue, Jr. knew he wanted to keep taking care of the community in a special way. Community involvement has always been key at the GM plant. Morgan remembers the management allowing him to leave his shift early to fight fires, and he knew the employees had generous hearts. The plant already collected toys every Christmas for a national drive, and Morgan wondered if they couldn’t do more and keep it local.
It was time to visit Tillie. “There was no formal introduction,” he says, “Everyone knew Tillie.” He asked if she could use some Christmas toys. Of course she said yes, Mission Arlington® could always use more toys. Back at the plant, the employees started to raise money to do more. A few ladies would make lunch for the staff, and instead of going out, anyone could stop by the break room, eat, and donate their lunch money. Another group of employees made little candy bags to sell to each other to add a little more to the pot. Eventually, the management arranged that, voluntarily, the employees could auto-draft a few dollars from each paycheck go to the toy committee.
Now, Morgan is the liaison between GM and Mission Arlington®. He helps arrange a special day for Mission Arlington® Bible Study children to visit the plant. The children eat lunch, and pass out candy canes to the workers on the line. Then Santa visits and each child from the small group picks a toy. After the last group, everyone helps load the trucks and drives straight to the Mission to unload.
Morgan says his favorite part is seeing people come together to help the less fortunate. He says, “God put us here for a purpose.” Morgan has certainly found a good position to continue serving the Arlington community.
This year, General Motors employees sent many boxes of toys throughout the fall. Then, on the officially delivery day, they filled 2 semi-trucks and 2 box trucks full of brand new toys. The toys went immediately to the store and helped many of the 7,351 families (30,415 children) that visited this Christmas. We are grateful for the way God puts the GM and Mission Arlington® families together each year to bless so many.
Originally published December 27th, 2015. Morgan passed away January 8th, 2018. His homegoing celebration was yesterday, January 10th, 2018.
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.
It started when Sam was seven, living at Westwood apartments in central Arlington. He remembers Martha and Earl gathering all the people to study the Bible. For Sam, it started as a place to get juice and cookies, but became so much more. He started learning about the Word. He remembers accepting Christ at that apartment church when he was eight years old.