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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Brownsville In The News

Here is a link to a Yahoo News story about one of the complications of life on the Texas border.

God/Great Part 2

For a readable and thoughtful response to Christopher Hitchen's best-selling rant against God, you should get "God Is....How Christianity Explains Everything". Available from Amazon here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Angel Tree

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matt. 25:37 - 40

Did you know that 1.7 million kids have a parent in prison? Chuck Colson's Angel Tree ministry is doing something about that. Through Angel Tree, the children of incarcerated parents receive Christmas presents with the aid of more than 10,000 churches in the US. This year our church got in on the action, and Saturday was "Christmas" for almost 100 children in south Texas. Parents were invited for a meal, some Christmas music, and a message from our children's pastor to remember the reason for it all. Thanks to Lupita, Trisha, Glenda and Captain for making the holidays a little more bearable this year.

Boths Sides Of The Border

It's been said that there are worse crimes than burning books, such as not reading them. This past Friday I, along with our children's minister Captain, participated in a book giveaway at Russell Elementary school here is Brownsville. We were working in connection with a Baptist ministry in our state called Literacy Connexus, which seeks to instill a love of reading in needy children across Texas. Each child received a small collection of books, and a small bookshelf to put them on.

Friday afternoon I met up with some friends from the Bannockburn Baptist Church (Austin) to attend the ordination service of a pastor they've been sponsoring. We spent a little time with his family at his house in Matamoros before the service. Like so many pastors I've met in Mexico, he is an humble man, without much education or material resources. But he's not lacking in passion. His road hasn't been an easy one, but he continues just the same.

Keep Christ In Christmas?

Every year Americans are admonished to "keep Christ in Christmas". What does this mean? How do we do it? Should we do it? Check out this fine article from Dr. Michael Brown.

Monday, December 19, 2011

God Is Not Great

Over the past dozen years or so atheism has enjoyed a wave of popularity throughout much of the English-speaking world. Through a series of best-selling books, interviews, and debates we have been encouraged to imagine a world free from the shackles of religion. If only we could rid ourselves of these myths and superstitions, we've been told, we would all sit down at the table of brotherhood and, unburdened of all the fanaticism that comes from faith, live together in peace.

The most entertaining of these "new atheists" was Christopher Hitchens. The British-born journalist became an American citizen in 2007. With an encyclopedic knowledge of the world he lived in, Hitchens wrote on a wide variety of subjects, and was never afraid to offend people on either the political left or right.

For the past few years Hitchens spent much of his time attacking religion, and anyone who had one. The title of his recent book, "God Is Not Great; How Religion Poisons Everything", is itself a glimpse into how this man operated: provacative, irreverant, and prone to exaggeration. His fans couldn't get enough; finally someone with his skill was publicly exposing religion for the sham that it is.

You could be forgiven for wondering why he expended so much energy battling a God who doesn't exist. It's because in Hitchen's world, religion is not just false, it is dangerous. Without religion there never would have been an Inquisition, or the terrorist attacks of September 11th. No, someone has to have the courage to say what all thinking people know: the physical world is all there ever was, or ever will be. Only science and reason can lead us out of this dogmatic wilderness.

But Hitchens never understood (though it was often pointed out to him) that by embracing atheism he had given away the store. If atheism is true, there's no way to justify the moral judgments that they make. It is only by "borrowing" morality from Christianity that atheists are then able to pronounce it evil.

I find myself a little conflicted about Hitchen's passing. Here was a man of rare ability; often witty, sometimes blasphemous, always thought-provoking. But his intellectual gifts should have led him beyond the physical world to the Source of all gifts. But they never did. Instead, like the dog who bites his master, he employed those gifts to rail against the One who had made him. And I find that to be very sad indeed.

Christopher Hitchens - dead of cancer at age 62.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Houses For Christ


In August of 2007 I participated in a mission trip with an organization called Casas Por Cristo, based in El Paso, Texas. A staff member from CPC takes mission teams over to Cuidad Juarez, Mexico to build a house for a needy family (since then they have expanded the ministry to work in Acuña, Mexico and Guatemala). In 5 days or less a team can build a 2 room house, complete with a concrete slab, electricity, insulation, and a stucco finish on the outside walls. It even comes with a ceiling fan! The trip was very enjoyable for me, and only served to increase my love for the Spanish language and the Mexican people.

Tomorrow night (December 11th), CNN will be airing a special called "CNN Heroes" at 8 p.m. eastern time. I understand that Casas Por Cristo will be featured briefly in the show. If you're not busy, it might be worth a look.

An blog post about the show can be found here. The ministry website is here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

If Joseph and Mary used Facebook


If Joseph and Mary used Facebook, it would look like this.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Casa Blanca

Saturday evening I tore myself away from the SEC championship game to attend a special service with our brothers at the Casa Blanca church in Mexico (it wasn't much of a sacrifice, since UGA got an old-fashioned whooping from LSU). In any case, the occasion was a celebration service for one of our church plants in Matamoros. It is now an official, autonomous church. We have been supporting their pastor, Adolfo Villarreal, for some time now. He has done a wonderful job over there; in fact, that church has now planted 2 churches itself! The service was very warm and lively, and the church was packed to the gills. I trust you will join me in praying for this church, and especially for the 2 church plants. There are many obstacles to planting a New Testament church in Mexico, but it can be done, and Pastor Adolfo is doing it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SBTC

Last week a handful of us from FBC attended the SBTC annual convention. This year it was held in the Dallas area. I spent most of my time in the exhibit area, where our ministry had a display set up. While there wasn't an overwhelming response to the ministry, I must say that our Lifesaver basket was quite popular.

I did manage to make it to a couple of sessions. There was a recurring theme in this year's meeting, which is that there are about 3,800 unreached, unengaged people groups in the world today (which essentially means that they have no meaningful access to the gospel). One of the speakers said that we have already reached all the areas that are easy to reach. If we are to be successful in reaching the rest, it will require a level of sacrifice that so far we have been unwilling to make.

The most enjoyable part of the week was a dinner/dialogue event called "Would Calvin Use An Evangecube?" It was a spirited discussion between 2 first-rate Christian thinkers about the age-old question of the free will of man in salvation. There were no knockout blows, and the interchanges were respectful. Alas, we never learned what Calvin thought about the Evangecube.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This Week Pt. 2


On Sunday my friend Scott Ronyak from To Every Tribe Ministries came over and made an announcement to the church about the Perspectives class. Afterward, we served lunch to the entire church. The lunch was a fundraiser for our upcoming mission trip. I gave them my spiel about the Dominican Republic, and encouraged anyone interested to get on the stick.
An observation: I wonder why I had never had brisket before I moved to Texas? I know, I know, I've lived a sheltered life, but I don't recall ever having it before. Anyway, that's what we served Sunday, and it was GREAT! Humility prevents me from telling you who bought it, but I'm sure glad they did.

This Week In Missions


There were several "missiony" things going on at the church over the past few days. On Saturday a group of about 10 from our church went over to Matamoros to paint the exterior of a church. We were afraid that we might be rained out, but the rain held off, and a good time was had by all. You can see my wife Beverly hard at work in the top picture, and the finished project is seen in the middle one. Our pastor Steve Dorman demonstrates flawless technique in the picture at the bottom.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Painting The Town

If you live in the Brownsville area, there is a ministry opportunity coming your way! Saturday, November 5th we will be crossing the border into Matamoros to help Pastor Adolfo Villarreal with a painting project at his church. If you'd like to help, meet us in the parking lot of FBC at 8:30 (and don't forget your passport!).

Triumph

Apologies to the loyal readers of the Valley Missions blog. All last week our church staff was on its annual retreat, so I wasn't able to post anything. This year we decided to pitch in some of our own money and take a cruise. It was the first for me; we sailed aboard the Carnival Triumph to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico. All the staff wives (except mine) were able to go along. It was a nice time with a wonderful group of people. The staff met from about 1 - 5:30 every afternoon, and the rest of the time was free. Except for when we were watching the Texas Rangers throw away the World Series, it was lots of fun.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

God's Hobby

This morning a pastor/church leader breakfast was held in Los Fresnos to try to get the word out about the upcoming Perspectives course. One of the presenters summed up the whole thing quite nicely, I thought. She said "Missions is not God's hobby". Indeed. And it shouldn't be ours either.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Update from Matamoros

My friend Abraham has posted an update on his blog. He continues his work in Mexico. The vast majority of folks there just want to live their lives unmolested, but the violence has made their situation very difficult, and a lot of innocent people are being affected by it. Please take a moment to read the update, and to pray for our dear Christian brothers in Mexico.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

IMHO

How many times has this happened to you? Christian leader "X" issues a statement saying that Christian movie "Y" is "awesome!" or "incredible!" or even "the best movie of the year!". You rush off to the nearest theater to experience this cinematic marvel, only to be (how shall we put this)....uninspired?

Let's be honest: just because a movie promotes, say, family values doesn't mean that as a movie it is any good.

With that off my chest, I now turn to the new "Courageous" movie. I saw it Sunday, and can cheerfully report that it is not one of those cringe-inducing, though well-intentioned, movies I am referring to. In my humble opinion it is the Kendrick brothers' best work yet. The acting is better, the production values better, and the theme of the movie is an important one.

"Courageous" is not perfect, but it stands head and shoulders above most in the genre. You should see it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Raising "On Mission" Kids

Every Christian parent is faced with the same dilemma: how do I pass my values on to my kids? And for those of us involved in world missions, how do we get our kids involved? This month there is a good article in On Mission magazine on how to help kids "catch the vision". Worth a look.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Courageous


I usually limit the posts on this blog to things having to do with my work as a missions pastor. From time to time, however, I feel obligated to use my enormous influence to promote other things. On September 30th the movie "Courageous" will be released (visit the movie website here). Courageous is made by the same folks who brought us "Fireproof". I understand that the theme this time is fatherhood. Now, the good Lord knows I've done my share of complaining about the corrosive effects of pop culture, and especially TV/movies. But it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, or so I'm told. So I post the information here with the hope that many people see Courageous, and that much good is done by it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pastors Breakfast

Planning for the upcoming Perspectives course on world missions continues, and we're trying to get the word out. On Wednesday October 19th there will be a free breakfast to introduce pastors and other church leaders to Perspectives. Please let your church staff know. I'll be happy to give you more info if you need it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Friendly Reminder


If you are considering going with us to the Dominican Republic next June, you'd better get on the stick! Several people have told me recently that they are interested in the trip, and space is limited. For more info, contact me at fbcbmissions@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

English Classes


In January we started offering English classes at FBC. It was our first time out of the gate, but it went very well. After a summer break, we resume our English classes Sunday evening at 6 p.m. The classes are free. If you know of someone who may be interested, send 'em our way!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Liderazgo

If you speak Spanish and live in Brownsville (or thereabouts), you may be interested in a good opportunity that is coming our way in November. La Cumbre Global De Liderazgo (The Global Leadership Summit) will be held at the Central Christian Church on Alton Gloor Road. The (video) summit, dubbed into Spanish, features well-known Christian leaders such as Bill Hybels, John Ortberg, and Craig Groeschel talking about (you guessed it) leadership. For more details you can visit the summit website here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Open Doors

While I was in Chiapas I met a young man named Raul. He is the nephew of the couple I was staying with. He is from northern Mexico, but has recently moved south in hopes of starting a church. At the moment he is scouting out the area to see where he would like to work. Raul is a fine young man; I'm sure he will do well. If you would like to keep up with Raul, you can visit his blog, written in Spanish and English.

It Was Ben

For a few words from missionary Benjamin Loera on my recent trip to Mexico, please visit his blog here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Coming In 2012

At least 2 important things are going to happen in 2012. Besides the world ending on December 21st, the Perspectives course will be offered right here in the lower Rio Grande Valley, beginning Tuesday, January 10th (see my post from July 26). I dare say that if you will take this course, you will know more about world missions than 95% of all church members in the US. Plus, you'll be ready for the end! Visit the Perspectives website here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chiapas


Last evening I returned from 12 days in the Mexican state of Chiapas. If you're a little rusty on your geography, Chiapas is in southern Mexico, sharing a border with Guatemala. One of our missionaries, Benjamin Loera, lives there. He and his wife Magvis run a small children's home in the town of Ocosingo, which is a long way, literally and figuratively, from the border towns near here. There's a lot of cattle, much farm land, and beautiful, green mountains. It even rains there occasionally! More importantly, they've been mercifully spared most of the drug violence that we've grown accustomed to hearing about. I have told several folks over the past couple of years that getting to meet people that I would otherwise never meet is one of the best things about learning Spanish. This trip was no different.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Information Please

This coming Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. we will hold an information meeting for anyone interested in our mission trip to the Dominican Republic next June. Both medical professionals and laymen will be needed for this trip. The meeting will be held in The Parlor here at FBC.

Coming Together

A big part of my job is arranging the projects for the visiting mission teams each summer. Last week we had 2 teams working here, and another team (about 65 people) is here this week. All of them chose to work on this side of the border this year, which meant that I had a lot of planning to do. It sure is gratifying to see, at long last, everything come together. The teams have been great and, even though the heat has been stifling, everyone has worked tirelessly and without complaint. And, a lot of things have gotten done.

Buck To School

This past Sunday was our second attempt at a back-to-school party/event. This time it was the Rockwell Manor apartments here in Brownsville. We served hot dogs, played with the kids, and served lots of snow cones. We even offered free hair cuts at this one. The school supplies that we gave away were paid for, in large part, by the members of FBC. The previous Sunday was "buck to school" Sunday. Everyone was asked to bring $1 to help pay for said school supplies. The fact that we had already been working in those apartments all summer was a big help to us. We feel like we have made some progress with the kids, and are pretty sure that we'll continue to work over there in the Fall.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More on Japan

Click here for another article from our baptist paper about our team that went to Japan.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Little Perspective

If you live in the Rio Grande Valley, and care about world missions, then I have some wonderful news to share. The Perspectives course will be offered in Los Fresnos starting in January 2012. (Yes, I know that is a long way away, but I couldn't wait to post information about it). For those who need to know, Perspectives On The World Christian Movement is an in-depth study of Christian missions. Over the course of a semester you will study the Biblical basis for missions, the history of missions, and will learn practical strategies for doing missions well. The study meets once a week. I attended this course while I lived in South Carolina; I give it my highest recommendation. While planning for this course continues, you can get a head start by visiting the Perspectives website here.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

A Nagging Question

Readers of this blog know that we haven't hosted as many groups this year as in years past, but this week we're going gangbusters. 2 teams, both from Texas, are in the area doing apartment ministry, construction projects, and one-on-one evangelism. Last night we gave away school supplies at the apartments where one of our teams is working. It was was also our church's third Summer of Serving event(see photo). During the evening a couple of our ladies were able to have a long conversation with a mom who lives there. She is a believer, but has a lot on her plate, as the saying goes. It was worth every snow cone and every hot dog to see her encouraged by these 2 women. But doesn't this beg a question: how many hundreds (thousands?) just like her are there in Brownsville just waiting for someone to care?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Criswell College

For the past several years we have been privileged to host a team from Criswell College each summer. It's a required mission trip for them, and a big blessing to us. They were here last week to help in our VBS. Besides this, they did some painting at our mission center, and some construction work on one of our church buildings. Below is one of the Criswell gang sharing the gospel at our soccer clinic.

Lazy Days of Summer?

Not at FBC! With about 300 people each night (including workers), FBC was "one happening place" during our VBS. I've been attending VBS since I was a wee lad, but it still means now what it meant then: lots of fun and laughter (and heat), with plenty of cookies and kool-aid to go around. The thing I enjoy most about VBS now, though, is that every year we get to meet, and minister to, folks we've never met before. It's very satisfying to know that, for a few days at least, these precious children were given God's eternal truth, by teachers who cared for them. And that is worth celebrating.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Adventure Continues

If you've ever worked in VBS, then you'll understand why I haven't posted anything this week! It was a great week, though. More details soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Big Apple Adventure

Tomorrow night we begin Vacation Bible School at FBC. There is a New York City theme this year, which is a bit of a departure from what we've done in the past. The fun begins at 5:45 each evening. If you live in our area, come on by!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Super Huge Announcement


OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but I do have a little news. For a while now I have wanted our mission center to have its own website. I am hoping more people can find out about our ministry this way. And so I did it. There's not much whiz-bang, but it serves the purpose. You can even "like" us on Facebook! How relevant is that?
So, without further ado (has there been any previous ado?), I present the new Rio Grande Valley Missions website.

Friday, July 1, 2011

3 Months Later

Here is an update from the BGR website on the Southern Baptist response to the disaster in Japan.

Friday Funnies

Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Mission Ministries

A couple of times in this space I have mentioned my friend Abraham Barberi, with whom I have worked in Matamoros. He, along with Paul Bellington, leads a ministry called One Mission Ministries. They recently produced a video about OMM, which can be viewed here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Have You Heard?


It's official! The dates for our medical missions trip to the Dominican Republic are now set. God willing we will leave Thursday, June 7th 2012, and return the following Thursday. This will give us 5 ministry days, a free day, and 2 travel days.
The DR is an enchanting land full of natural beauty, friendly people and, in places, grinding poverty. YOU can do something about that. While we'll certainly be needing medical professionals, we'll need some "common" people also. Space is limited. If you are at all interested, get in touch with me right away.

Week 2

Last night was our second Summer of Serving evening at FBC (see the post from May 22). In all we had 3 teams going at the same time. One was working at the local Christian radio station, another was preparing Scriptures for distribution (stamping contact information on them and inserting a gospel tract), and another was delivering food to needy families in the community. The "stamping team" completed about 6,000 copies of the Scriptures, while the "food team" gave away 20 bags full of non-perishables. I was on the food team, and I can tell you that it was a lot of fun seeing people light up when we showed up at their house, unannounced, with a tangible expression of God's love.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hogar De Niños

Maybe it's because of my background, but I've always had a tender spot in my heart for small, struggling ministries. If there's one thing that they all have in common it's that there is never enough of anything....money, time, or help. But they keep rolling along anyway, with the conviction that it was God who called them to do it. Well, today I met a woman who, along with a handful of others, operates a small hogar de niños (children's home) about 45 minutes from us in Mexico. They care for 21 children at the moment. The double whammy of border violence and a bad economy has taken its toll. They will be closing their doors soon unless they are able to raise more funds. I post this story here with the hope that someone reading this might feel led to help. If that person is you, please e-mail me and I'll put you in touch.

Monday, June 20, 2011

As Many As We Can

We received an update yesterday from one of our team members who is in Japan. She said that the work is hard and hot, and emotionally taxing as well. She told us that, while working on one of the houses that had been damaged, the men threw away as many idols as they could get away with! Pray for the team; they are scheduled to return at the end of this week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Japan Update

An article appeared in the June 12th edition of our local paper about our team that is in Japan. You can read it online here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer in the Son

Today we began 8 weeks of children's ministry in a local apartment complex. We are calling it "Summer in the Son". What is really gratifying about this, other than the kids we met, is the fact that about 6 kids from our youth group showed up to help. One young lady who was at the apartments told us that she wanted to start attending our church youth group on Wednesday evenings. Woo-hoo!

Land of the Rising Sun


Monday a team of 5 from our church, along with a former staff member from Dallas, flew to Japan for a few days of disaster relief work. While we deeply regret that the earthquake/tsunami happened, we are grateful that we now have a platform to show God's love in a country that has long been resistant to the gospel. Please pray for our team as they minister there.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Our First Team

The first team of summer 2011 has arrived. This is a group of old friends from FBC Blanchard, La. They will be doing some door-to-door evangelism in Mexico on Monday, and then conducting a VBS in a local park the rest of the week. The violence in Mexico has substantially affected our ministry here. All ministries near the border, so far as I know, are having fewer teams to come help this year. So, while the workers are fewer, the needs are not. For this reason we are especially grateful for the teams that are willing to help this summer.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Summer Of Love Serving

This Summer our church will, on select Sunday nights, go into our community to do ministry of some sort. We're calling it "Summer of Serving", and we begin on June 12 with some old-fashioned sangin' in a couple local nursing homes. Each SOS evening will be different. For all you locals, watch the church bulletin for more information.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Doctor Will See You Now


I am happy to announce that our church is planning its own medical missions trip to the Dominican Republic for the summer of 2012. Exact dates will be announced soon, but it will almost certainly be the 2nd week in June. If you are a medical professional of some sort, and would like to know more, please e-mail me.

If We Could Just Think Of A Name For It

This summer I, along with a few other intrepid souls from our church, will be ministering to kids at a local apartment complex on a weekly basis. It will be VBS-ish, though we haven't thought of a proper name for it yet. The idea is to have a presence there all summer, and not just for a few days. We are hoping that this ministry will lead to opportunities to influence the families of these children, which according to Monica who works there, could certainly use it. Pray for us as we iron out the details.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Quick Update


On Saturday I went to our local flea market again to participate in Scripture distribution. I was joined by a couple of folks from our church, and together we got a lot done. On Sunday morning our team that went to the Dominican Republic gave a report to the church. The frustrating thing about these mission trip reports is that one can never adequately describe what happened. The sights, sounds, smells and even feelings that one gets from a trip like this can only be experienced by those who go. But it was fun talking about it nonetheless. Mr. Roberts finished up the service with a challenge to the congregation...."it's not a question of IF I should do something; the question is, WHAT should I be doing?" Well said.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A New Soul

"Learn a new language and get a new soul." ~Czech Proverb

I have been working on my "new soul" for 6 years now. I can now report that learning Spanish has been, by far, the most frustrating thing I have ever tried to do. I have literally been at the point of tears more than once, and have wanted to quit a 1,000 times. But I keep at it, for reasons I'm not sure even I understand. The other side of the coin, though, is that language learning is incredibly rewarding. On April 10, while in the Dominican Republic, I preached twice in Spanish. It was a little rough, to be sure, but I made it through. So I continue to study every day, in pursuit of that holy grail of language that we call "fluency".

Monday, April 25, 2011

And You Think Your Job Stinks!

I've already mentioned in earlier posts about the 2 medical clinics that we conducted while in the DR. Both of these took place in sugar cane villages, and the people who live there are, in large part, refugees from Haiti. One of the local missionaries who worked with us told me that 7 Haitians will work in these sugar cane fields for $10 a day. That's $10 divided among seven workers, not $10 each. In fact, much of the world lives like this: scraping by without adequate food, shelter or medical care. Now to be sure, I can't eliminate all human need, but it always feels good trying to make a small dent in it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More On The DR


Here is a brief summary of what we were doing in the DR: our group was actually made up of 2 groups. There were 6 of us from Brownsville, 3 of which were high school students. We were joined by a group of about 15 or so from a Christian school in West Virginia. Our students were there to interpret. On our first ministry day we visited a couple of schools. I can tell you that it is odd for someone from the US to see someone openly present the gospel in a public school! But present they did, and were well received in each classroom.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It Matters To This One!













We did several things on our trip to the DR, including hosting a medical clinic. We did this on 2 different days, actually. This is the first time I have ever done this, so it was fascinating to me. There was a doctor and a couple of nurses to see patients, and it all went over very well. Everything we needed, including medicine, we took with us. I was the gatekeeper, as it were. It was my job to stave off "creeping chaos", and to call the next person who was to be seen. It was at once gratifying and frustrating. Gratifying because we were really doing some good, and frustrating because we couldn't see everyone who needed attention. It reminded me of the old story, often told, about the kid saving starfish on the beach. When told that his efforts didn't really matter in the light of all that needed to be done, he responded, "Well, it matters to this one!" Indeed it does.

"Many Infallible Proofs"


Thursday I was able to teach again in the Bible Institute in Matamoros. The lesson was called "Why I Believe In The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ". It was a thrill to be able to teach this to a group that was so eager to learn. During Holy Week, no less!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dominican Republic


Last Friday morning I got back from my first trip to the Dominican Republic. It likely won't be my last. Over the next couple of days I'll post some details (and pictures) of what we did.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Gift of God

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to find good quotes. Here is one I stumbled across today. "Thinking is an act of worship, because truth is God's gift." (Adolf Schlatter, 1852-1938)

Impact on Laredo


Today I called Chuy Avila from Laredo to get an update. Yesterday they held the Team Impact event. Chuy told me that there were about 5,000 people present, and that there were 727 professions of faith. He was thrilled, to say the least. He is hoping to have 5 churches started by the end of the year. Pray for the work in that city. They are off to a good start, but there is much to be done there.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Miscellaneous

I never quite know what to say when someone asks me, "How was the funeral?" But I can say that Dwight's "celebration service" was a sweet and touching remembrance of a servant who labored long in the Lord's vineyard. On another note, yesterday I taught my Sunday School class for the first time. It was the first time that I have ever given a public speech in Spanish. It was a little rough, but we made it through. Speaking of using Spanish, I leave tomorrow for the Dominican Republic. I will be preaching Sunday at one of the local churches there. Lots more details when I return. Last of all, I will be teaching on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus at the Bible institute in Matamoros on the day before Good Friday. How cool is that?

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Hole In The World


I just found out that Dwight Hendrick, longtime missionary at FBC Brownsville, has died of cancer. He was scheduled to have hip replacement surgery just 2 weeks ago today, but it wasn't to be.

It would be almost impossible to exaggerate the significance of Dwight's work in the valley and in Mexico for the past 45 years. Only in eternity will we know how many people were housed, fed, clothed, inspired, and saved through the ministry of this one man.

This afternoon I read about a man who, describing life after the death of his father, said "The world has a hole in it, and one that will never be filled in this life". If you can understand that, then you can understand how we all feel tonight.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Anniversary To Me

Today is an anniversary of sorts for me. Last March 24th I (and my Toyota Tacoma) left Seneca, SC on my way to Brownsville, Texas. It has been a whirlwind year, to say the least. But God has blessed our feeble efforts, and I know that I am where I am supposed to be.

1 in 6

Here's an eye-opening article for you. New census data reveals that 1 in 6 Americans is Hispanic. One in 4 children is Hispanic. I suppose the takeaway from this is obvious, but I'll mention it anyway......who would be serious about reaching America must be serious about reaching Hispanics.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snow Cones and Kidney Stones

Last week a group of 10 from our church went over to Laredo to help with a mission project (you can get more information from my earlier posts). It all turned out great. A productive trip, with lots of great fellowship to boot. From Wednesday afternoon to lunchtime Friday we left materials at about 4,000 houses (and were barked at by about 10,000 dogs!). Throw in a block party, and a bout with kidney stones, and you get a memorable trip indeed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

If God, Why Evil?


The disaster in Japan once again raises what is often called "the problem of evil". In other words, how do we reconcile the existence of a good, all-powerful Creator with all the suffering that exists in the world? If God does exist, why doesn't He do more to stop it? If you are interested in pursuing this issue further I suggest you watch this debate that features Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. Michael Brown. It is a very lively, engaging discussion from 2 intellectual heavyweights.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan


Whenever there is a natural disaster, such as the one in Japan, Christians often face a dilemma: where should we give our money? The Red Cross? The Salvation Army? Save the Children? While these organizations do great work, I prefer to give to an organization that (1) uses as much of the donation as possible for aid, instead of administrative costs, and (2) is explicitly Christian. For this reason I am giving the link to the website for Baptist Global Response. It's a great way to give if you're looking for a way to help out.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

On Mission

There's a nice story here from On Mission magazine about Chuy Avila and his work in Laredo, Texas. (If this is your first visit to my blog, you may not know that our church is taking a small team to Laredo in a couple of weeks, and Chuy is the missionary we will be working with). Pray for us, and the other teams that will be going to Laredo, as we attempt to blanket the whole town (pop. 300,000) with the gospel.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

So Great Salvation

The movie "POEMA DE SALVACIÓN" will be running for yet another week at Sunrise Mall in Brownsville. This is remarkable for a Christian film (see my other posts for a description). Let's not let this opportunity pass.

Deadline


A couple of updates about our trip to Laredo: first, we are now going to leave Wednesday morning (March 16) instead of Tuesday afternoon. Second, there will be several other groups there the same week we are, so it should be fun. We will likely be involved in a block party on Thursday, besides our door-to-door ministry. If you are interested, you need to act fast! Contact me at fbcbmissions@yahoo.com.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

3 Years Later



In 2008 I was involved in a mission trip to Jamaica. One of the things we did was to help with the construction of a church. We were working on the walls of the church, so it was a long way from finished when we left. Several other teams have gone to work on it since. The pictures that you see were taken inside that church, now completed. I can tell you that it's satisfying to know that this church has a new building, and that our team had a small part in it. Now, isn't that what's great about mission work? To be able to look back on past labor and see buildings built, projects completed, and lives changed? Mission work is usually hard, and often frustrating, but there is nothing else like it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Salvation Poem Update

Just got an e-mail saying that the movie "POEMA DE SALVACIÓN" will be held over for at least one more week at Sunrise Mall. Word is that it has gotten a good reception, and that several folks have made professions of faith after seeing it. If you have Spanish speaking friends in the valley, why not encourage them to give it a shot?

And Then There's This


Valentines Day is coming up Monday. If the whole candy and flowers thing has grown a little stale to you, check out this article that I stumbled across today.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Big Red Button

No matter how noble our motives, or how worthy our cause, it's always a little difficult to ask others for money. But in this case I think the cause really is worthy, so here goes....in April I will be going to the Dominican Republic to do mission work. I'll post more details soon, but for now I'll just mention that, if you feel so inclined, you can contribute to the cause. Any amount (really!) would be appreciated. Just click on the big red button to get started. It's quick and secure (we are using an online payment system called Webconnex, so neither I, nor anyone at the church, ever has access to your financial information).

Let's Pretend


If you'll look closely at this picture you'll notice something rather strange....ice in the Rio Grande Valley. This happy event took place last week, with temperatures dipping down into the 20's. More cold weather is forecast for tonight.
Now, pretend that this weather is happening where you live. And instead of your comfortable home, you live in a shack. There are no floors, and your walls, if we can call them that, are made of tin, plastic, or scraps of wood. Of course, there is no heat in this house of yours, and when the wind blows, you feel the cold right down to your bones. Now, pretend that your spouse, and your small children, live in this house. All you can do is bundle up with all the clothes you can find, and pray that the cold front passes by quickly.
If you can imagine this, then you can imagine what daily life is like for 1,000s of Mexican families every winter. And you'll know why every summer First Baptist Church, and the teams we work with, builds houses for poor Mexican families. For about $3,000 we can build a modest, 2-room house, complete with insulation and electricity. If you would like to help put together a trip to build such a house, send me an e-mail and we'll get started.

B.B.I. Part 2

Last night I taught the book of Acts in a New Testament survey course at the Baptist Bible Institute (see the post below). Teaching 28 chapters in 2 hours (including translation) is well nigh impossible, but we gave it the old college try. Abraham has already made some plans for the next series of classes. For starters, he'll be offering Christian Apologetics, and I plan to teach the session on why we believe in the resurrection of Christ. And this will take place just before......Easter.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Baptist Bible Institute

If you know a lot about Mexico then you know that a quality, Biblical education can be hard to come by for many pastors. Some of them don't read well, some don't have the time, and many others don't have the money. The problem is serious, and I have long wanted to do something about it. On Tuesday evening I had the privilege of teaching the Gospel of John at the Instituto Biblico Sola Scriptura in Matamoros, Mexico. You can read about the institute here. It is led by my friend Abraham, who is fulfulling his vision of providing a Bible education to church leaders who could never attend a traditional college or seminary. There were about 40 or so people present, and they were eager to learn. God willing, I will be teaching the Book of Acts next Tuesday evening, and perhaps other subjects in months to come. Please join me in prayer for this important ministry.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More On Laredo

Here is a video that features Chuy Avila, a SBTC church planter from Laredo, Texas. We will be taking a group (which you can be a part of) over to Laredo during spring break in March to help Chuy with an outreach effort. The video is a brief description of what he is trying to accomplish there, and why. The Spanish version of Chuy's presentation can be found here.

Salvation Poem


Today I attended a special preview of a movie that's heading our way. It's called "POEMA DE SALVACIÓN", and tells the true story of a young man who turns his back on his faith, all the while sinking deeper into a life of sin and bondage. It's a heartwarming tale of the power of prayer, and the depths of a mother's love. The film opens February 4th at Sunrise Mall. Great for unchurched friends. Click here for more information.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Calling All Couples


While most of my posts have to do with world missions in one way or another, I must make an exception today. On February 11th and 12th our church will host a video conference called "The Art of Marriage". Guess what it's about?? Come on, guess!! That's right, and you can find out more at this website. The conference will be held simultaneously at hundreds of sites nationwide, so there should be one within driving distance of you no matter where you are. I've seen excerpts of it, and it's pretty impressive. But if you still need a little convincing, check out Chuck Colson's comments about it here.

Haiti, One Year Later

January 12th marked the 1st anniversary of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti last year. Things are still awful there. Just today I received a travel update from the U.S. State Department. It reads, in part:
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Haiti and strongly urges avoiding all but essential travel. This notice replaces the Travel Warning dated December 9, 2010 to reflect the critical crime level, cholera outbreak, frequent and violent disturbances in Port-au-Prince and in provincial cities, lack of adequate medical facilities, and limited police protection.
The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Haiti unless essential and only if travel is fully supported by organizations with solid infrastructure, evacuation options, and medical support systems in place.

There's lots more, but you get the idea. Pray for the Haitians, and for those who are trying to help them.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Saint Death (update)

On December 11th of last year I posted a blog about a workshop I attended in Laredo. The workshop was about the growing popularity of something called "Santa Muerte". There is a fine article about that meeting here. The video of that same workshop has now been posted online here. The video is in Spanish.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

English as a Second Language (update)


After months of planning, we have finally begun our ESL classes here at FBC. Our first night of classes was held Sunday, and we got off to a good start. We've had a lot of inquiries about the classes, even though we only advertised through our school. Pray for these new students as they try to learn. And pray for us, as we befriend them and try to show them the love of Christ.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why I Do What I Do

I have long thought that the opening paragraph of John Piper's book, "Let The Nations Be Glad", is the best that I have ever read. It never fails to move me. Enjoy.
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.

Journey Of A Lifetime

This week we begin a new Bible study on Wednesday nights at FBC Brownsville. It's called "Journey of a Lifetime", and is a one-year survey of the entire Bible. If you live in our area, we'd love to see you there.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Long Live The King!


Do you recognize this man? (Don't feel bad if you don't; he lived 4 centuries ago.) If nothing comes to mind, here's a little help....he was a king, he lived in England, and 2011 marks the 400th anniversary of a very popular version of the Bible that bears his name. Happy Anniversary KJV!