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Archive for June, 2012

Field of Dreams…

Ever seen the movie “Field of Dreams?”

It’s now an older movie (released in 1989), but it made an impression on me. It’s a “guy movie,” and it’s really about a relationship between a father and son. The movie was centered around a field…

That’s a picture of the field from the movie. The field was made right in the middle of a corn field. At the end of the movie the father and son play a game of “catch” and they reconcile. I had a lump in my throat watching that. But, it was the field that brought them together.

Well, here’s a picture of another field…

This is a “before” shot…before our team arrived and set-up for the block party at a field adjacent to the housing project in Weslaco, TX. Here’s the “after.”

Now let me tell you why I call it a “field of dreams.” In the case of what was accomplished last night, there were 21 professions of faith made at that field…

Take a look…

Here’s Chantel Brooks and a young lady…

Here’s Cynthia Brame sharing Christ. Cynthia has such a passion to share Christ. If you are around her 3 minutes you’ll discover this fact…

Kaitlyn Mosteller is holding the tents down as the wind whips up so these ladies can listen to Jason Church’s gospel presentation…

Below is a picture of Karen Nichols with some folks she was talking to about Christ. I believe this is the first picture of Karen all week. Want to know why? Because she has been the one taking the pictures!!! 🙂 Thanks Karen!

I want you to see this scene. Take a look at this picture below and if you aren’t careful, you will miss what’s happening…

So what do you see? Kid’s singing songs right? Yes…but there is more. Can you see what’s happening in the background? That’s Randy Nichol’s and Maddie Angarita sharing Christ with a man. Let’s take a closer look…

Here Julie Shepherd is sharing Christ with a boy…

Wayne Shepherd sharing with a group of young adults…

They are really locked in! Wayne has “preacher” in him!

Randy Nichols is at it again…sharing on the front door step of an apartment… He’s another “soul winner!”

Here Jason is sharing the Gospel with a demonstration of salvation…

Jesus taught in parables and I believe “object lessons” really grabs the heart and mind of a person.

Here Renee Bryan is sharing the Gospel…

What a fantastic night at this wonderful field…

Wow! There’s Randy again! He’s a machine!!

Ashton Joines is talking with Maggie (the lady who came to Christ on Tuesday)…

Pastor Hector is sharing with a young man…

What a night at that “field of dreams.”

When the team arrived back to the Mission House, they had a two-hour time of devotion and praise! Weston Lovette is shown here leading the devotion…

And then it was off to “What-a-burger” for a late night snack!

Brother and Sister…Kayla and Weston Lovette having a blast!!!

What a week! 22 professions of faith! Amazing! Team one had 23 professions of faith! Praise the Lord! 55 lives who have been touched. Now the hard part of discipling these “baby Christians.” But, we have Jason and Katie who will do so when we leave.

What a comfort to know that we are just totally pulling out and “leaving” these precious folks.

Today the team will head over to Progreso for a “last supper” with the church and then for a little shopping and then home tomorrow. Praise the Lord for all the blessings of a fantastic week! Thanks to each of you for the prayers!

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God’s Plan…

See this lady…

Her name is Maggie. She is now a professing believer in Jesus Christ. Let me tell you how this came about…

See the picture below…

Jason Church and Cynthia Brame are sharing Christ with Maggie. Karen Nichols (took the picture) helped as well. Ashton Joines is playing with the children. Well, Maggie said she had seen our group working on the corner in the housing project, but it was too far from her apartment to go. However, when we moved the Bible Club (because we were kicked out of the housing project) to the field adjacent to the housing project, Maggie said it was right across from her and she could come. I love it! Satan thought he would deter us, but instead his little chess move has been used to lead another soul to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

What does this tell me? It is simply a reminder that God’s plans want be thwarted. What we often see as problems or difficulties are simply opportunities for God to work in our lives in a different way. So, don’t be discouraged at your present difficulties. God is at work!

By the way, if you are a Facebook user and want to see more pictures, you can send a “friend request” to Sophie Nichols (managed by her mom Karen Nichols) and you can see dozens more pictures.

The work at the field adjacent from the housing project continues in full abandon…

And the preparation beforehand is continuous…

I just have to show you this picture of a couple of our young men who work at the construction site in 100+ degree temps. This is what happens to even the young…

Pretty funny, huh! That’s being worn out…wouldn’t you say? 🙂

Speaking of the construction at the church…the work continues to get the floor poured… More cement-o arrives…

I couldn’t believe this picture… They got the stage completed!!!

And the second section…

Dan Parrish and Kelly Nichols are discussing the next step…

With God’s help…they will finish the floor today!

Here’s some shots of last night’s work at the church during the VBS… Kaitlyn Mosteller is working on a new chord with a fellow “guitar-picker.”

Randy Brooks has found a new little friend…

Wayne and Craig continue to disciples Reno. You might remember Reno. He was led to Christ on the first trip…

Kaitlyn and Haley (far left) are teaching with Maddie Angarita (middle) translating. Maddie has done a fantastic job this week being a translator! Thank the Lord for bilingual folks to help us un-lingual folks. 🙂

Steve Walter taught the adults with Caesar translating…

And our young adults (in the yellow shirts), sprinkle in among the children during the lesson time…

Can I show a fantastic picture? Here’s the entire Brooks family on their “family vacation.” They are with a young lady that they felt led as a family to present their Bible.

Each family/person was given a Spanish/English Bible before they left and asked to pray about who they’d give it to on the mission trip. This is the little girl the Brooks family chose. I love the fact that we, as a church, have chosen to do “family” mission trips.

Each family received bags of rice and beans during this last night of the VBS at the church…

But the night is not over. The team returns to the Mission House in Texas for debriefing and a devotion. Notice the time on the clock as Randy Brooks leads the discussion/Bible Study. Yep, it’s 10:30 and many of the folks (particularly the construction workers) have been up since 4:30 am.

Today is the last day of construction…

Pray for our team as they deal with the heat. This was what the temp was last night at 5 pm on the way back into Progreso for the VBS…

Photo: And it keeps going up...

God has a plan and His will is going to be accomplished. Blessings to all! And remember…see those difficulties in your life as opportunities for God to get the glory. Romans 8:28.

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Man, It’s HOT!

HOT is the word of the day! It was 104 degrees in Weslaco and probably closer to 106 in Progreso yesterday. Man, that’s HOT! Today the forecast calls for:

You guessed it… 104 degrees. But, hold the phone it’s supposed to be cooler on Thursday. Just an even 100! But, if you live in NC, we are expecting that kind of heat this weekend. So, team when you land Saturday night and come to church on Sunday morning, you will enjoy a 100 degree day here as well! 🙂

Yesterday much was accomplished!

Let’s review. Take a look at the floor of the church as the day began…

Watch the progress of bringing in dirt, wire and tamping…

And now the mixing…

Isn’t that awesome work!!

And, boy were they whooped!!

What a construction team!

Time for a break and some lunch…

The ladies of the church are fixing up some delicious cactus tacos…

They are so gracious and hospitable. Here’s the finished product…

With the tremendous progress made yesterday…they should be able to finish the floor if all goes well. The stage might not get completed, but with the heat and all the manual work…this will be a tremendous accomplishment.

Continue to pray for them and their stamina.

Meanwhile, back in Weslaco, TX…we were able to find a field adjacent to the housing project that we are using. It’s so hot and there is no shade, so everyone is trying to huddle up under “pop-up” tents. It’s cutting down on the numbers of children. But, we’re going to persevere.

Last night back in Progreso for the VBS there was fantastic! The crafts are a huge hit!!

Here Noel and Ashton are teaching with Miriam assisting…

Jeff Pinkerton is teaching the adults…

Our folks join in…

Let’s get ready for more crafts…

While this is happening…the snack folks are preparing for the onslaught for cool-aid and cookies…

There is no telling what Pastor Oscar and Jonah Brooks are talking about…

The children are precious…

Pastor Oscar can do it all…including sing and play the guitar…

Oh my…who are these two amigos?

Soccer anyone? The most played sport in the world…

What a blast!

Friends for life are being made!

When the team returns…it’s time for evening devotions. Coleman led last night…

The team listening in…

So…all is well in Mexico and Texas. Thanks for following along in the journey. More to come tomorrow. Continue to pray for stamina, strength and for the team to be bold in sharing the Gospel. And pray for a cool breeze! Why? Because… IT’S HOT!!! 🙂

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Do you like chess?

When I was a kid, I learned to play chess. I love chess, even though I seldom play it. To be good at chess you have to think several moves ahead and anticipate what your opponent will do. That scenario basically describes the cosmic battle between the only God of the universe, Yahweh/Jehovah God of the Bible and Satan. Satan has been attempting to overthrow God’s kingdom since he rebelled in heaven. Now on earth…as the “god of this age,” (2 Cor. 4:4), he seeks to thwart God’s plans. Can he do so? Well, he can certainly throw a wrench into things, but ultimately, God’s countermoves will “check mate” Satan.

Our mission team in TX/Mexico have been witnessing some of Satan’s work. Now please hear me (or read me :)), I’m not looking for Satan under every rock or around every corner. I don’t assign to Satan everything that goes wrong in life, but I can tell when he is at work in the spiritual realm.

Let me give you an update from our team. All is well, but there are some hiccups along the way. At the housing project in Weslaco, TX, we were told yesterday that we were no longer welcome there. The associate director of the complex said we’d have to leave (separation of church and state, since they are a government-run entity). Well, I was expecting that, but not so soon. So, we have dropped back and prayed and asked the Lord what to do.

Thus far we believe we have a solution with a field nearby the housing project. We’ll update you on this tomorrow to let you know how it all turns out…but, please be in prayer, won’t you? There is so much work to be done and we believe this is Satan coming against the work of bringing the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Here’s some pictures from yesterday’s first day of the backyard Bible club or VBS at the housing project in Weslaco, TX…

Kids galore…

Jackie Bryan and Jeff Pinkerton leading in a craft project…

Kayla Lovette brought a parachute for “play time” and they love it…

Cynthia Brame is continuing the discipling and teaching of Maria.

You might remember Maria. Kim Anderson led her to Christ on the first trip. Maria is growing!! See Kim in the right-hand side of the picture talking to Maria from trip #1…

Snack time…

They love the “song” time…

How are the men doing at the construction site? Well they are doing well. Here’s a picture of what I call “0-dark-thirty” in the morning. Try 5 am. Getting ready to head out…

The men are bringing in dirt for the floor. It’s going to be an elevated “stepped-down” floor…like stadium seating…

It’s being done in sections…

This will be the stage area…

Can I tell you the truth? The guy in the middle does most of the work. Randy (left) and Ken (right)…well…they’re not much help to Manuel. Manuel misses Steve Bryan! 🙂

See Manuel is laughing…

Randy Brooks and Craig Church are sizing up the task…

So pray for them as they continue the work today! As usual it is HOT!

Oh…by the way…I’m not sure Wayne Shepherd is going to be much use to them today. He said he’d probably have to stay back at the mission house and supervise the HVAC…

Don’t you love it! 🙂

The young adults continue to do a wonderful job with teaching during the devotion time. Here is Bryson Mosteller. Great job Bryson!

Of course everyone wants to hold Oscarito… Here’s Will Shepherd with him…

Here’s the VBS at the church in Progreso last night. Steve Walter is sharing Christ with this young man, while Maddie Angarita translates and Kelly Nichols looks on and interjects…

Here’s Jason with the kids…

Isn’t missions fun!!

Father and son…Thomas (son) and Jeff (dad) Pinkerton. Now that’s a father-son trip they’ll never forget…

Lakyn Parrish is having a blast with Rosa!

Brother Wayne is teaching the kids…

Kaitlyn is sharing the Gospel here…

Well…more updates tomorrow. Keep praying as we watch this chess match play out. Guess who’s going to win!

God!

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He’s already at work…

And indeed that is true! The Lord is already at work. Team #2 arrived safely to Weslaco, TX and they are already seeing the hand of God. There have been a couple of issues where the Lord has handled in His most perfectly timed way. One of the ladies got really “air-sick” on the way down and was vomiting and feeling terrible. Yet on the layover in the Houston, TX airport, the Lord literally brought her back to health. Her husband told me, “Kevin, normally when this kind of thing hits her, it knocks her out and she’s down for the count.” He said, “It’s amazing, she took a short nap in the terminal, woke up and next thing I know she’s witnessing to a man.” Folks…that’s God!

Next, one of the ladies had a medical issue that appeared to be such that would require her to return to North Carolina. However, when the team returned from the church service in Progreso, Mexico this morning, she was all smiles and she said, “I’m staying!” The Lord is truly at work! And I’m telling you from having taken many trips to Ethiopia, China, Israel, Mexico and beyond, that this is how God works on mission trips. He just does the most amazing things.

Ok now for some pictures…

On the plane…

I think Brother Wayne is asleep back there. That looks like me… I get so sleepy on planes.

And then the playing of cards…while waiting for the next flight…

Traveling in large groups is a blast. You get a lot of stares and looks and questions: “What’s the yellow shirts for? What are y’all doing?” Perfect opportunity to share Christ… And yes we do stand out!

I must tell you that there is a lot of fun on these trips. The last team (Team #1) left Brother Wayne a present. They decorated his bunk with a sign that says “Waynetta” and left some cuddly and cute little animals for him to sleep with…

Last night the team got to meet Pastor Hector. He came by the mission house and we had a wonderful service together. Here Coleman Parrish is playing the keyboard as Pastor Hector plays guitar. Ashton Joines and Katie Church are leading in singing.

Hector loves the Lord and he desires to utilize his little flock of 20 or so folks to help us in the housing project to get a Bible Study up and running and to share the Gospel in Weslaco.

The team has a time of sharing each night. Kelly Nichols led last night with the devotion…

The team was up and ready to go to Progreso this morning for service. They were all excited to see what has been accomplished and the job that awaits them this week.

The team will be bringing in dirt and tamping it and then forming up for the pour of the cement. The materials are ready…

Pray for the team as they begin the work tomorrow…bright and early.

Brother Ken shared the Word of God at the church…

Caesar translated for him. Caesar is a man Jason and Katie Church met on the streets of Progreso. He works in one of the tourist shops and is a believer. He said that he’d be glad to help us translate. He did the same for Team #1. He’s a true blessing and the Lord worked this out as well.

One of the greatest things about the work is the time of worship together with our brothers and sisters…

Everyone loves Oscarito. He is Pastor Oscar and Miriam’s little boy… Our miracle baby…

The Nichols’ men found the store across the street from the church…

So did some others…

Here’s a reminder of the poverty in Progeso…

We are so blessed in America. The poor of the poor here in America have more than those in Progreso. This is a great reminder…”to whom much is given, much is required.”

It reminds me of this man who I saw from our van at the Mexican border when I was in Mexico on the first trip.

See the little man cleaning windows? He has a rag and that’s it. No water bottle to spray the windows…just a rag to wipe off the dust. He does it for nothing. I watched him. He hoped for someone in the kindness of their heart to give him a few cents or a dollar for what he was doing. It’s very dusty in Progreso, and so the man was trying to wipe off the dust. He would go from car to car wiping dust and I’d guess one out of five vehicles gave him something. Well…I saw this and it touched my heart. Would we see this in America? Are you kidding? No! We see folks with cardboard signs…

Not in Mexico. There is no Social Security. There are no disability checks. No food stamps. No WIC cards. Nothing! In Mexico, if you don’t work…you don’t eat. In fact that’s Scriptural. Paul said that to Timothy…”if a man doesn’t work…let him not eat.” So, we passed a hat and took up over $20 for the man. I watched him as he came to our van. He was sweating profusely. He was short and thin. He looked to be about 50+ years old. As he came by my window he was whistling. Amazing. We gave him the money. He didn’t know how much it was. He just stuck it in his pocket and went to the next car. I watched him though. He finally stepped to the curb and looked in his pocket at the wadded up money. He smiled and pointed to heaven and stuck the money back in his pocket.

Is the man a believer? I have no idea, but I do know this. He’s a worker! Oh that we Americans could realize this again and move for a nation of people who is satisfied to have their hands out to a nation that once again puts their hand to the plow.

So the team will travel back and forth in the heat across the border many times this week…

And they’ll bond in an amazing way. I’m excited to see what the Lord does.

Stay tuned for more.

By the way…the Browns have had a great weekend. We went to Rendezvous Mountain (about 10 minutes from the house) yesterday evening.

It’s free! The mountain is open till 8 pm on the weekends. It’s got some great trails…

The view is magnificent!!

And Andrew and I just a few minutes ago finished this masterpiece with my 1970’s “Lincoln Logs.”

Until tomorrow… Blessings!!

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They’re off!

Team #2 just headed out for Mexico/TX. I snapped this photo just a while ago…

32 strong! As a pastor/elder, I’m extremely excited to know that we have a church that desires to get out of the “salt shaker” to be salt to the uttermost parts of the earth. Mt. Pleasant started in 1875. Take a look at artwork done by a dear lady, Iva Dean McGee, who’s now with the Lord…

That was the church in 1875 when we started. A handful of men from the community started the church and look at what we are today…

When I was a boy…this is how the church looked in 1974 when I was six years old…

Times sure have changed in the last 137 years. Here’s the total “campus” now…

The building at the top right is the old church, (we now call the Prayer Chapel) and the building attached to it was built in 1960. It’s the administrative office building and houses the old fellowship hall on the ground floor. The building at the back of the Prayer Chapel was completed in 1996. I was the chairman of the building committee for that project. I was named chairman of the committee as a 24-year old man in 1992. And the Reach Center is the multi-purpose facility we built and moved into on July 6, 2006 that’s in the foreground of the picture to the left.

Now we have vehicles and “tools” to reach people with the gospel… Here’s the bus loaded up with our team…

And these things should be used for reaching people with the Gospel more so than just “entertaining” the flock, don’t you agree? If we aren’t careful, we can get really “inward-focused” in our churches. I pray that is never the case with our flock.

Who’s leading this team? Well…it’s none other than Ken Bryan. I tell Ken that he’s an “elder” without the title (even though titles are worthless and unnecessary in our churches…after all…the senior pastor is non other than Jesus Christ, Himself. :)).

He’s giving last-minute directions and instructions. He’s a great leader!

I praise the Lord for how the church has grown and developed over the years. We are totally family-friendly! You can have your children with you in the service. How Scriptural is that? Well, it’s totally Scriptural. You never see the family separated in Scripture when the meeting of the church took place. Look high and low and you’ll never see the family split out during the meeting. We do this in our culture out of convenience to not be “bothered” by the children. But, Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” Here’s a picture of Pam holding Martin and Marci Moore’s little boy Everette.

Martin and Marci play in our praise team and they were both playing this past Sunday, so Pam said, “I’d love to hold him.” How precious is that! Families taking care of families. That’s a picture of Scripture. Read Paul’s letters to the church and you’ll see. In Ephesians 6:1 when Paul said, “Children obey your parents in the Lord…” those words were read to the church in the hearing of the children. The children were not pulled out to another area to eat Cheetos and watch a video. 🙂 No…the children were with the family.

Speaking of family…

It’s the simple things that can be most enjoyable. Like picking these luscious blackberries…

I don’t know why we think we have to spend a lot of money to go somewhere to entertain ourselves to have “fun” when the great outdoors is there, just waiting for us. Those blackberries are growing in abundance everywhere on my property and my mom’s and dad’s. Pam’s been making jam all week. Yum!!

I’m going to attempt to update the progress of the mission team as the week goes along. So, I’ll keep you posted. If you would like to see a touching video of our first team’s journey from last week, you can check it out here.

I’m going to now do something crazy! I’m going to take the rest of the afternoon off and spend it with my kids!! Since returning from Mexico last Sunday morning…it’s been a break-neck pace this week. I need a vacation! 🙂 I’m getting old!

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Finishing Strong

Have you ever heard of the horse Secretariat?

File:Secretariat in 1973 Kentucky Derby.jpg

Secretariat was arguably the greatest racehorse ever. In 1973 he became the first U.S. Triple Crown champion in 25 years and set new race records in two of the three events in the Series—the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. These are records that still stand today.

Secretariat’s secret? He finished strong. He came out of the gate slow…but finished like a locomotive.

Why do I tell you this? Simply because the team in Weslaco has finished strong. Let me show you some results…

We arrived at the church in Progreso yesterday for lunch (prepared by the ladies of the church)…

We had tamales…

That’s me sharing right before we prayed for Oscar and Miriam inside the newly constructed walls of the church (Temple) in Progreso.

Then we went shopping in Progreso…

Then for a “last supper” at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Progreso called Rene’s.

What a joyful time of celebration and rejoicing together! There were tears as we said “goodbye” to Oscar and Miriam and Manuel and his family.

Next was a baby shower for Katie and Jason and the baby to come…

This was a surprise and boy were they…

It was a great day! And now it’s time to leave and head back to North Carolina. Yep…we finished strong. In fact we have much more to tell. We will be sharing at church tomorrow. We’ll have a 10-minute video and four folks will be sharing as representatives of our team of 35. It will be a fantastic time and will include a story of salvation for a man on the street in Progreso. That’s all I’ll say at this point so as not to steal our thunder as we storm down the track as we finish strong!

It’s time to pack up and clean the mission house. We’ll land in Raleigh tonight at 9:30 am and should arrive in Wilkesboro by 12:30 am tomorrow. Pray for us…

Round two is coming in one week… Team #2 will be here in Weslaco to begin and finish their leg of the race…

I hope you have enjoyed the journey thus far! I sure have!

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