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Ricardo and Jesus

Two brothers, sitting on the steps of the apartment where their Mission Arlington church meets each Sunday.

Two brothers, sitting on the steps of the apartment where their Mission Arlington church meets each Sunday.

As soon as Jesus could walk, he was volunteering for Mission Arlington®.  He would toddle around behind his Bible Study leader, Rebecca, and knock on the apartment doors to invite everyone to church.

Ricardo, Jesus’ older brother, has been attending Bible Study for years and, even though their family moved away from the apartments more than ten years ago, they still drive back every week because that’s their church.  They say they like the environment and love to learn about God.

Some may recognize these boys from previous Mission Arlington® publications. Rebecca always has her camera, so Jesus appeared in many newsletters as he grew up. Ricardo wrote an essay for school a few years ago about the work they do on Fridays, which was published as well. Read the essay here. Last year, Rebecca wrote a piece about Ricardo and his friend that was featured on this website. Find that article here.

Ricardo’s working on his college degree now, and says he uses the things he learns at church in his everyday life. “Everything I’ve learned, I’ve put in into my life.  There are things I’m still working on to change with the help of God.” And while at school, he shares his faith whenever he can.  His goal? He wants “to show people that their life can be full of hope.”

Jesus is in junior high, While this is difficult territory, Jesus says he has a plan. “Always keep going forward and make better choices. There is another way of life.”

Mission Arlington ® is so much more than clothes, food, and Sunday morning Bible Study.  Those things work together towards the overarching goal of investing in lives to further God’s kingdom.  Ricardo and Jesus are just two of many who are following Christ, and we praise God for the work he is doing in their lives today.

Originally published on February 1st, 2015.

Audrey

“It’s a blessing to see God work miracles every day” – Audrey.

Last fall, Audrey was working in Tulsa at a shelter that was soon to close. She was planning to return to family in New York when to someone casually mentioned Texas. And God said, “You are going to Texas.” Audrey says, “It was embedded in my mind. I couldn’t take my thoughts from it.”

Shortly thereafter, Audrey was in Arlington, Texas. She started volunteering at Mission Arlington and wondered if this was the reason God had whispered “Texas.” Tillie confirmed Audrey’s suspicion when she told Audrey she had a place for her. Since then, Audrey has been working in the front room, on the phones, in the food pantry, and doing Bible Study at a central Arlington apartment complex.

Every day, about 500 people come to the front room of Mission Arlington® looking for help with food, clothing, rent, utilities and other assistance. Audrey is glad to pray with the people and see how we can help. She remembers one woman came needing food, furniture, and had a prayer request. Audrey asked about the prayer request and the woman cried, telling about her entire situation. They prayed and talked for a long time. By the time the woman was left, Audrey says although we didn’t have every last physical thing she asked for, she received something else that God prepared for her, and the woman left in better shape than when she had come.

Recently, Audrey was restocking the food pantry and a request came for more vegetables. Audrey knew there were no more vegetables, but she went back to the stockroom to see if anything else had come in. At that moment, a man came in with a box of canned vegetables and asked where to put them. “Oh, great! We need those in the small pantry,” Audrey told him. He answered, “You don’t understand. “My truck is full of vegetables.”

The next day, a similar issue came up with Ramen noodles. Audrey had just given away the last package of noodles, a very popular item in the pantry, so she went to the stockroom to see what else was available. As she was walking by the donation area, a man pulled up and opened his trunk to reveal it was full of Ramen noodles. Audrey laughed, “Not just one pack, no, boxes and boxes of noodles.”

Audrey thinks about God’s provision in terms of Luke 5. The disciples have been fishing with no success, but when Jesus tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat, the nets break because they are so full of fish. Audrey explains, “Mission Arlington is a broken-net place. People come in a hopeless situation, but leave with nets so full, the nets are broken.”

Originally published in May of 2017.

Doris

When Tillie Burgin returned from Korea, a woman named Doris whom she did not know approached her saying, “I’ve been praying for you.” This began a decades-long friendship between the two women and their families.

Doris volunteered at Mission Arlington in countless ways from the beginning. From clerical work to cleaning the kitchen, she was always a familiar sight around the office. She also served on the Mission Metroplex Board of Directors.

The position most important to her, though, was the time she spent teaching the ladies’ Bible Study at South Street Church. She guided the women that she taught to follow God. They loved her so much, even when she was no longer well enough to teach the class, the women still asked about her and checked on her consistently.

Doris loved telling people about the Lord. She once found, while proofreading a Mission Arlington publication, someone had written the phrase, “a chance to tell people about Jesus.” She suggested a word change, explaining it was not by a lucky “chance,” but telling people about Jesus is always an “opportunity.” She took these opportunities seriously because of her deep love for her Savior. She wanted everyone to know him the way she knew him.

We are thankful to God for sending this beautiful woman to teach us all how to love the Lord and serve people well. Doris went to be with her Lord this spring. She now knows by sight what we only know by faith.

At her memorial service, one speaker asked everyone to stand who had been taught by Doris. Nearly one-fourth of the congregation stood to be counted as Doris‘ pupils. Almost all of these have gone on to teach their own classes, or lead their families or friends in the way of the Lord.

Doris‘ legacy, taking opportunities to spread the word of God, will make an impact for generations to come.

Dennis

When Dennis was five, he told his parents he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a missionary, someone who “goes around the world and tells people about Jesus.” Rather than just a cute passing phase, Dennis has kept this goal consistently through the last two years.

Recently, Dennis’ parents encouraged him over lunch. “You don’t have to wait to make an impact. You could make an impact now.” Dennis considered his favorite toy, Legos, saying, “Maybe I could be a Lego missionary.”

In Dennis’ own words, “We go around and tell the gospel to kids and help them to do legos and give them a toy to play with.”

And so Building Blocks 4 Kids was born. While Dennis recruited some friends from his church to help, his parents contacted Mission Arlington to see if there were any groups of children that would want to build Legos and hear the Gospel. Of course, that was easy to set up.

Two months later, at an apartment complex in North Arlington, Dennis and friends passed out Legos, sang worship songs, and told how God should be the architect of your life. If you follow God’s instructions, your life will look like what he has planned. They read Jeremiah 29:11, then they all built Legos together, following the Lego diagram.

Since then, Building Blocks 4 Kids has visited two more locations and six more are planned for the summer. The word is out: co-workers and friends are dropping off Lego donations with Dennis’ family. Through a connection with a missionary in Africa, Dennis will send sets of Legos overseas with the Bible Study translated into Swahili.

The mission of Building Blocks 4 Kids is spreading across Arlington and into the world. We’re so glad that God asked us to be a part of this fun gospel project.

There’s no reason to wait if God has put a call on your life to share the Gospel. How can you share Christ today?

Visit Building Blocks 4 Kids on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/buildingblocks4kids.org/

 

Jaborian

Thirteen-year-old Jaborian has been going to church at a Mission Arlington® apartment community since he was about 2 years old. His face lights up when asked about the day he accepted Jesus as his savior.

When was it? Without hesitation, he answers, “It was May 14, 2011 – It was really good, because I just felt like I was clean.” Now, he wants everyone else to know what it feels like to be forgiven. He volunteers often at the Mission Arlington® office and teaches Pre-K at his home Bible Study plus 1st-3rd grade at another location. He doesn’t have a favorite kid – he says he loves them all.

Jaborian likes it when the children get excited about the Bible. “This one kid, Anthony, he hooks on so fast. One time I was teaching him about when God split the water so everyone could walk through. He was asking lots of questions and really engaged in it.” Anthony is a preschooler and blessed to have Jaborian as a teacher.

He runs track, so one of his favorite responsibilities is to knock on doors inviting people to church, because it’s active and a bit of a challenge. He says, “Sometimes they say they don’t want to come, but I continue to knock, continue to knock. And sometimes even if you think they won’t come, they come.” He remembers one man in particular who, after many weeks of invitations, finally did come to church. Jaborian was so pleased to see him there.

His love for Jesus doesn’t stop when he leaves the church walls. Last year, someone at school teased him a little saying, “You just love going to church,” and he answered, “‘I do love going to church.’ They know I follow Jesus Christ for sure.”

Mission Arlington® is better because Jaborian volunteers and shares the gospel wherever he goes. What a blessing he is!

[Originally published in February 2018]

Sonya

We meet so many beautiful people here. When they receive, they don’t forget, and they pay it forward.

Thank you Sonya Boler for sharing this note with us. Gifts like the ones you gave keep on giving even after they leave here.


The following note was published by Ms. Boler on Facebook and is republished here with permission.

“When I moved to Texas back in 2001 I had no furniture or a bed. Mission Arlington® donated to me a bed, kitchen table and chairs and sofa. I was so blessed. My sister, minister Carolyn Boler, came to volunteer sometimes here. When I moved back home to Charlotte, NC, I donated all of my furniture and new stuff that I bought to Mission Arlington® to be a blessing to someone else. Blessings to you and your families.”

 We are so grateful  for people like Ms. Boler who make a difference with others from what they have received through here.  We are so blessed to do what we do every day.  Thank you so much for your constant, faithful support.

Chad

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.”

 

Logan

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

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.”

 

Pedro and Maria

Maria and Pedro small

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.

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