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Friday, December 24, 2010

The Greatest Mission Trip Of All!

Several times this month I have listened to the special "Holiday Music" channel on my TV, and I have a bone to pick. It seems to me that every year the Christmas music I hear is a little less about the Christ child, and a little more about good times, romance, and "coming home for Christmas". But then, I suppose that is all Christmas means to those who don't know God....how could it mean anything more? But for those of us who believe, Christmas is about Jesus, God Himself, Who came to earth to save sinners. Everything else is gravy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Saint Death Part 2

The other reason I was in Laredo last weekend (see below) was to begin plans for a mission trip next Spring. I met up with Chuy Avila, who works full time there. Chuy has a strategy for reaching his city, and is hoping to help start several churches. To do this he'll need mission teams to come down during spring break to help blanket the area. God willing, we'll be taking a group over to help. Should be fun. If you would like to go on an inexpensive mission trip, where you know your work will matter, get in touch with me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saint Death


If you haven't yet heard of something called Santa Muerte (Saint Death), you will. There are an estimated 2 million followers of the "White Lady" in Mexico alone, with thousands more throughout the southern U.S. It is especially prevalent in border communities like ours. I learned more about it all this weekend in Laredo, at a conference sponsored by the SBTC. If the idea of Death as a "saint" is new to you, then you should realize that her followers are quite serious, and the idea is spreading rapidly.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Flea Market

I spent a good part of today in Donna, Texas at "La Pulga" (flea market). Flea markets are a big deal down here. I went along with some folks who have a regular ministry in such places, giving away copies of the gospel of John/book of Romans. In just a few hours we distributed over 3,000 copies. I hope to be doing more of this soon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Good Will Toward Men


Excited about that new tie you're gonna get for Christmas? Of course not! Why not use that money to make a difference instead? Just suggest to your loved ones, "You know, I'd prefer that you use some of that money you were going to spend on me to help someone else". You'll both feel good, while doing good at the same time.
So, how do we go about it? Here's one idea....several Christian organizations are now publishing Christmas catalogs. For the price of a bottle of cologne or a flannel shirt you can give someone much needed medicine, food, or clean water. Click here, here, or here for ideas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SBTC


From November 14 - 16 I was in Corpus Christi for the annual Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. We took one of our feeding unit trailers to display, and also set up a booth for our missions ministries. We saw some old friends, and made some new ones. Here is a picture of our pastor, Steve Dorman, talking with a couple that we met this week.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just For Us!


Here is where good Christians get their groceries.

I Think I'll Pass


I refused to stay here....

Volcano


Downtown section of a town called La Fortuna, with one of Costa Rica's active volcanoes in the background.

Costa Rica



Here are a couple pictures from my recent trip to Costa Rica. The first picture was taken in San Jose at the Spanish school. Here I am with my grammar class. The picture on the bottom was taken at Playa Jaco, which is on the Pacific side of the country. I spent a couple of days here with a young missionary family.

Friday, November 5, 2010

English as a Second Language

We have a wonderful opportunity coming up next week here at FBC. We will be offering training on how to teach English as a second language. The potential for such a ministry should be obvious. If you live within driving distance of Brownsville, please consider joining us. Call the church office at (956) 542-5334, or e-mail me for more information.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

¡Pura Vida!

I believe I owe the teeming throngs who read this blog an explanation. Why, they all must be wondering, hasn't Tracy updated his blog in over a month? The answer.... I just spent 4 weeks in Costa Rica studying Spanish! More details, and some pics, coming soon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

.....a couple more pictures



Here are two more pictures from our fiesta.

Fiesta - Part 2



Our fiesta on September 12 was big success. It was plenty hot, but at least it didn't rain (which is a minor miracle, considering how much rain we have had here lately). Everything, from the music to the food, turned out great. Here are a couple of pictures (the picture on the bottom is of a Marimba band from the University of Texas - Brownsville).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Border Summit

On Thursday of this past week I traveled to San Antonio for the first ever "Borderlands Summit", sponsored by the SBTC. If you are familiar with the Texas/Mexico border, you know that it is an area like no other......not quite Mexico, not quite the United States. What is more, one area of the border may be quite different from another. The summit was an attempt to dialogue and plan with other leaders from our state. From Brownsville up to El Paso, every region was represented. All in all a good time of disussion and fellowship.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fiesta!!!


September 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of Mexico's independence, and we intend to get in on the fun. On Sunday, September 12th we will sponsor a Bicentennial Fiesta right here at the church. If you live in the Brownsville area, be sure to stop by for lots of good food, fun and fellowship. ¡├índale!

Monday, August 23, 2010

We Hope We Never Need It, But....


On Saturday, August 7th our church hosted disaster relief training. The SBTC has provided us with 2 trailers full of cooking equipment, so we all needed to know how to use it! About 40 people (including some from other churches) attended the training.
If you aren't part of a disaster relief team where you live, you really should consider getting involved. It is a fantastic way to minister in the name of Christ, at a time when people most need help. I have witnessed first-hand how grateful people are when they see a group of Christians, wearing those bright, mustard-colored shirts, show up to serve after a disaster, and expecting nothing in return. So, why do we do it? Because Christ first loved us.
And, did you know? SBC Disaster Relief is the 3rd largest relief organization in the world, behind only the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

Bak To Skool

Our last team of the summer was in town the first weekend of August. These are old friends from Sagemont Church in Houston. They have been doing missions in the valley for several years, and we are delighted to partner with them. Each year they conduct a back-to-school clinic, in cooperation with Iglesia Bautista Horeb (Horeb Baptist Church) and Pastor Carlos Osorio. They give away a ton of school supplies, and provide other valuable services. It's a lot of work, but is always appreciated by the community. Many thanks to Kathy, James, and the whole crew for a wonderful weekend of ministry.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Duck, Duck, Goose


This week we are hosting a team from University Baptist Church in San Antonio. They are conducting a VBS near a local mobile home park (see picture). There are about 45 kids attending. The leader, Jim, told me today that he has around 20 former students from his youth groups that are now involved in full time vocational Christian service. His secret? He deliberately involves his teens in mission trips and service projects. They, in turn, develop a love for the work, and the people they get to meet while doing it. So while some youth groups are all about pizza and amusement parks, Jim is trying to produce committed followers of Christ. I tell you, this warms my heart.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pics - Before and After














Here are a couple of pictures of a widow's house that was painted this week by a team from Village Parkway Baptist Church. Believe me when I say that there was a lot of work to do here. Thanks to this group for a job well done.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Living Water

Last week I, along with several other guys from our church, helped load a truck with bottled water to send to Monterrey, Mexico. There were hit pretty hard by Hurricane Alex down there, and drinkable water is at a premium. Anyway, as a result of the water distribution (and I'm leaving out a lot of details here), over 100 people have made professions of faith. WOOHOO!

Rounding Up Questions - Driving Home Answers


I'm busy as a (insert animal here) this week. We have 3 teams in town, and they're all going in different directions. AND, we're having our VBS at church this week as well. But it's all good.
All of our teams are from Texas. They are canvassing our local neighborhoods, inviting kids to VBS and passing out copies of the gospel of John. 2 of the groups are painting houses, and one is conducting its own VBS in a local park. Yet another is installing some new playground equipment, among other things. Throw in a broken A/C unit, a torn up lawn mower, a leaky toilet, and a little disaster relief work, and you get missionary nirvana. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Disaster That Was




While we only suffered minor damages in Brownsville from Hurricane Alex, our friends to the south weren't so lucky. Here are a couple of photos from Monterrey, Mexico.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Disaster That Wasn't

After giving us all a good scare, Hurricane Alex went south of us. Lots of rain, but not much else. Coverage of the storm can be found here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Train Up A Child....


Another busy week in the valley. This week we once again worked with a team from Christ Community Church in Omaha, Nebraska. For many years this team worked in Ciudad Juarez, but the violence there forced them to look for another area for ministry. Thankfully, they found us.
The team conducted VBS, played sports with the kids, did some one-on-one evangelism, and built 2 houses. They have been doing trips like this for a long time, and the experience showed. All in all a very good week.
One thing that I must point out is that the students were all 9th graders. Isn't it wonderful that these kids have experienced international missions, and learned the importance of serving others, before they have even begun high school?

Friday, June 18, 2010

River Hills

Earlier today I posted a blog about a group from the Corpus Christi area. Most of this team was from River Hills Baptist Church. Here is a good story about them. Check it out!

Haiti in the News

Click here for an article about our recent trip to Haiti.

Body of Christ



This week (see below) was a beautiful display of cooperation among several churches in Texas and Mexico. This is the way the body of Christ (Latin: Corpus Christi) is supposed to work.
Here are a couple more pictures from this week's work.

Old Friends





This week we hosted a team from the Corpus Christi area. They were in town to build houses for 4 families in Matamoros. They also conducted a VBS and held a medical clinic. I've posted some pictures here so you can see some of the work.
An observation: some people mistakenly think that mission work is only for those fortunate souls who possess specialized skills such as carpentry, preaching, or medical care. But this is simply not so. Can you sweep? Set up tables and chairs? Paint? Play with kids? Wash a child's hair? Serve refreshments? Fill out a form? Hand someone a Bible? If so, YOU CAN DO MISSIONS!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Edelstein Park


Here is part of the group from Louisiana leading VBS in one of our downtown parks. Great turnout, and great job by the team.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Official


Well, I suppose it's official now....

Monday, June 7, 2010

Big River


This picture was taken this morning as I was on my way to Matamoros to do a little evangelism with a team from Louisiana. This river serves as the border between Mexico and the USA. It's the Rio Grande, in case you are wondering.

Equipping the Saints


Today a crew began installing equipment on our new feeding units. If you aren't familiar with disaster relief work, a feeding unit is basically a traveling kitchen. It allows a team to provide hot meals to hundreds of people a day when they find themselves in a disaster situation. So, while we hope we never have to use these trailers, it is likely that we will, given that we live so near the coast. And when a hurricane (or some other disaster) does strike, we'll have the tools in place to help folks in their time of need.
The picture on the right shows some of the equipment sitting on the parking lot, waiting to be installed.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Co-laborers

Today our church was pleased to host Rev. Dwayne Spearman. Dwayne once served on staff at FBC; in fact, he held the very job that I now hold. Last summer he moved his family to Lima, Peru, where he is now involved in Christian education. Please pray for Dwayne, his wife Jannett, and their 2 sons.
If you are interested in learning more about his ministry, visit www.dwaynespearman.org

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mixed Bag

Missions work isn't all peaches and cream, and sometimes you see things that are just heartbreaking. We try to help as much as we can, but some things just can't be fixed.
Let me mention a lady I met this week while working with the Christian school. We were conducting a VBS in a trailer park, and we met a lady I'll call "C". Her husband just left her with 6 kids. She is trying to work, and has plans to go to law school one day. I took her some Bibles and other materials last night. She was a nice lady, and it seems like she is trying to do the right thing. As you can imagine, things are a little rough for her right now, and I know she would appreciate your prayers.

Scouting Report


Somewhere along the way I realized that one of the benefits of mission work is that you get to meet lots of wonderful people. This week was a prime example, as we hosted a group of 11th graders from Pantego Christian Academy. They worked hard, and got a lot done. Their leader, Michael, was a pleasure to work with. If any Pantego parents happen to read this, please know that your students represented you well. Thanks guys!
I also met a couple of scouting teams this week; that is, team members who came to scout out the area in view of a future trip. One team was from Houston, the other from Corpus Christi, and both groups have been working with us for several years. Between the groups, they will build houses, hold VBS, conduct medical and dental clinics, give free hair cuts, and give away school supplies. And, the fun begins in just over 2 weeks!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Planning Ahead

Got a few vacation days left for this year? Why not use them to make an eternal difference? It's not too late to be a part of our summer missions work at First Baptist Brownsville. E-mail me and we can discuss your options.
Can't make it this summer? No matter.....we can host your team any time of the year!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Honest Abe

Today I spent the afternoon in Mexico with a new friend named Abraham. After lunch Abraham showed my pastor and me the work that he is involved in there. We saw about 6 churches that are in various stages of construction. It was quite impressive. The churches are not large...in fact, he told us that for some services at the church he is now working at, no one shows up but his family. But he continues to serve nonetheless.
You know, the older I get the more I admire people like Abraham. You can have the superstar pastors and the Christian celebrities; just give me folks like Abraham. No pizazz, no fanfare, just loving obedience and faithful service. May his tribe increase.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Haiti


On April 10th, 2010 I, along with 6 others, left for Haiti to do disaster relief work. I won't attempt a moment by moment account of what we did, but I will highlight a few things.

My impressions:
1. It's as bad as you think. The country was in bad shape before all of this happened, and the last thing they needed was a major earthquake. But of course, that's what they got, and many areas were simply devastated. Our team basically tore down, then built back, a church/school building. On the last day our team was split up, and I went to another site to do clean up. There were a few setbacks, and it was hot, hot, hot, but we were pleased with what we were able to accomplish. It helped that we had a good team, and everyone worked hard. It was a pleasure to spend time with these guys.
2. I really enjoyed the Haitian people. We spent most of our time around other believers, and it was a real pleasure to work along side of them. They reminded me of the South African believers I met in 1998....very warm, loving and hospitable, with an intense love for the Lord.
3. This tragedy may be the beginning of something great. Literally tens of thousands of people have professed faith in Jesus Christ since the earthquake, and several of the pastors we met hope this is the beginning of spiritual awakening in that country.
4. It is important that we continue to pray for the Haitian people. Now that most of the TV cameras are gone, and many secular relief agencies have left, the Haitian people need our help as much as ever. There are literally years worth of work to be done there. There is a long history of corruption and spiritual darkness (especially voodoo) in Haiti, so this is spiritual warfare at its most intense.

Welcome to Brownsville!

Welcome to my blog! I thought this would be a good idea, so that friends and family can stay up-to-date on what is going on with our family, especially with the mission work I am involved in.
Most of you who are reading this no doubt already know that in March I moved from South Carolina to Brownsville, Texas to begin a new minstry. I now serve as missions/education pastor at First Baptist Brownsville.
My intentions are to post a new blog whenever I have some "news" to share about our mission work. I hope it will be enjoyable and informative for all of you. God bless!