Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 15, 2021

The Church in the Chihuahuan Desert

In the early 1960s, racing car legend Carroll Shelby and Dallas Witts, an attorney from Dallas, purchased the ghost town of Terlingua. The name of the town is derived from the Spanish words “tres lenguas” meaning “three tongues.” Located in the Big Bend region of Texas, the little town had a population of seven at that time — not including a few goats and wild burros.

Shelby and Witts later hatched a land development scheme and named it Terlingua Ranch Land and Cattle Company. They parceled off the 350,000 acres surrounding the ghost town and marketed its as a relaxing place to get away from it all. Sales did not boom as they expected but eventually Terlingua began to attract a variety of hardy off-gridders.

Today, Terlingua Ranch is home to folks from all over, most of whom came to the area to live off the grid. They were drawn to this wide part of Texas by the solitude, the vast vistas, a night sky overcrowded with stars, and the opportunity to do things their way.

Terlingua Ranch Community Church is the only church on the ranch. The modest southwest styled church building is located at the foot of a rocky hill on Church Road about a mile from the Terlingua Ranch headquarters. The small parking lot can accommodate a few vehicles and the hitching posts a few horses.

Cheryl and I enjoy worshipping at this little church whenever we venture to our off-grid cabin in Big Bend. We have come to know and love the members who care deeply about the welfare of those in the area. The church houses a food pantry and keeps its doors unlocked 24/7 so that folks in need can have access to food.

The desert is a harsh environment and has taken its toll on the little church building. Although the structure is still solid, it was time to address a few things, including updating the bathroom, addressing the front doors that opened only partially, adding a small meeting room, and adding food pantry storage.

I pitched the idea of helping to my Band of Fathers group, part of our Kingsland’s Men’s Ministry. We have been meeting together since March 2015 and are committed to shared study, shared mission, and shared adventure. So, we worked out the details with our friends at the church, got a work plan together, purchased materials, gathered our tools, and headed to Big Bend to do an intensive two-day remodel.

We arrived at the church late Thursday afternoon last week and immediately started on the demo work. The next morning, we divided up into teams and got to work. Allen Griffin, one of our members and a master builder, gave us direction and guidance.

We remodeled the bathroom. This included moving a hot water on demand system, adding a new light, replacing the toilet and vanity, installing new siding, hanging a new door, and wiring a new light above the adjacent kitchen area.

The small meeting room also got a much-needed facelift. We replaced the old paneling, added a horizontal sliding window to provide visual access to the room, reframed the door, and provided a small room air conditioner.

We also added a new wall across the front of the worship area. The room behind this wall will become the new food pantry and provide storage for seasonal items. This wall gave a fresh look to the front interior of the church.

Allen paid special attention to the front doors. One church member commented that these doors had not opened properly for the past 30 years. This task was challenging because the front of the church has settled and the front wall was completely out of plumb. But, Allen made sure that the doors were good as new.

On Sunday we worshiped with the good people of the church. Dennis, one of our team members, even stepped up to play the organ. Afterward we enjoyed dinner on the grounds at the home of Mark and Michelle. Great food and fellowship!

Although we worked very long days, our time in Terlingua was refreshing. Our men developed a stronger bond as a result of this shared service initiative. And the people of the church were happy with the fresh new look of their modest little building.

We breathed new life into the little church building in the Chihuahuan Desert so that the church can continue to do good work for the kingdom for another generation.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 7, 2021

Don’t Let the Old Man In

I turned 65 today — a milestone that once seemed so far away. And now, it’s here!

To be honest, there are a lot of things about getting older that I hate. For example, I hate that so much of my hair has turned loose and that what remains has turned gray. And I hate that the wiring in my metabolism has also worked itself loose. With every passing year it becomes harder than ever to lose a pound.

But there are also things about getting older that I love. I find great comfort in the security of my marriage and that I continue to share life with the woman I fell in love with more than 40 years ago. And I love my kids who are no longer kids. And I am head over heels about being a grandfather to three of the most beautiful granddaughters on the planet.

I remain committed to the divine work that God called me to almost 50 years ago. Little did I realize at the time what yielding to his call would mean for me. I continue on an incredible kingdom adventure that still excites me and has taken me to 46 countries around the world. I look forward to getting up every morning and going to “work.”

A couple of years ago, I listened to a song entitled “Don’t Let the Old Man In” by country singer and songwriter Toby Keith. This is one of those songs that instantly spoke to me. In many ways it spoke for me.

Keith was inspired by Eastwood to write the song. Keith and Eastwood are friends. While golfing together, Eastwood told Keith that he was going to start filming “The Mule” on his 88th birthday. The movie is based on the true story of a WWII veteran in his 80s who takes a job as a courier for a Mexican drug cartel. 

Keith asked Eastwood how he found the energy to continue working so hard at his age. Eastwood replied, “I just get up every morning and go out. And I don’t let the old man in.” Keith knew he had to write a song about that — and he did. Eastwood was so pleased with the song that he incorporated it into his movie.

For me, the song has become something of a theme song — a message that inspires me to keep living life to the fullest and to keeping the old man at bay. Getting older does not mean that we have to wave the flag of surrender or to stop living life to the fullest. It just means that we adjust the way we adventure. I have learned to adventure my age — to hike my hike. But I keep adventuring, no matter what.

This past week I reflected on my older age adventures, many of which were inspired by my son who reawakened in me a desire to opt outside more and to do hard things outdoors. Here is what I came up with and why I remain committed to always having something hard to look forward to. It’s the best way to keep the old man out.

Age 55
The Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race
The Colorado River 100 Canoe Race
The Texas Winter 100k Canoe Race

Age 56
The Texas River Marathon Canoe Race
The Texas Water Safari | The World’s Toughest Canoe Race (260 miles)
The Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race
The Colorado River 100 Canoe Race

Age 57
The Texas River Marathon Canoe Race
The Texas Water Safari | The World’s Toughest Canoe Race (260 miles)
The Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race
Mountain Biking the Jungles of Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The Lone Star Hiking Trail | 100 mile thru-hike

Age 58
Guadalupe Peak Summit | The Highest Point in Texas | Solo
Mountain Biking the Jungles of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Age 59
The Texas River Marathon Canoe Race
Hiking in Alaska
McKittrick Canyon Hike | Guadalupe Mountains
Chihuahuan Desert Mountain Bike Endurance Ride
Fishing on the Amazon River

Age 60
Paddled the Devils River | The Most Pristine River in Texas
Digging for Topaz in Mason County
The Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race
Guadalupe Peak Summit | The Highest Point in Texas
Hunter Peak Summit | Guadalupe Mountains
Chihuahuan Desert Mountain Bike Endurance Ride

Age 61
Aztec Cave Hike | Franklin Mountains
Planked 7 minutes and 30 seconds
El Capitan Summit | Guadalupe Mountains
Guadalupe Peak Summit | The Highest Point in Texas
Mountain Biking the Jungles of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Age 62
Hiking in Alaska
Chihuahuan Desert Mountain Bike Endurance Ride
Purchased Off-Grid Property in Big Bend | Start of a New Adventure
Guadalupe Peak Summit | The Highest Point in Texas
Mountain Biking the Congo-Nile Trail in Rwanda

Age 63
Hiking in Alaska
Mule Ears Trail Hike | Big Bend
Killed my First Hog
Developing our off-grid property

Age 64
Bartlett Peak Summit | Guadalupe Mountains
Bush Mountain Summit | Guadalupe Mountains
Killed My First Deer
Developing our off-grid property

Age 65
Excited to start year 65 by leading my Band of Fathers group to remodel Terlingua Ranch Community Church in the Chihuahuan Desert

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 31, 2021

A Vicious Attack

The video footage is disturbing.

On Monday, security cameras captured the brutal attack of a 65 year-old Asian woman on her way to church in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan — an area known as the Crossroads of the World. Her attacker was a big man, easily twice her size.

The footage shows the man approaching the woman and then, without warning and without provocation, he kicks her in the stomach. The woman then falls to the ground where her attacker stomps her head and continues to kick her. The attacker yelled, “You don’t belong here” — and then walked away.


However, just as disturbing is the presence of three other individuals who witnessed the attack from the lobby of a luxury apartment building. One of these, believed to be a security guard, walked to the glass entry doors of the apartment building and closed them.

Earlier today, an arrest was made. New York City police identified the suspect as Brandon Elliot, a 38 year-old black man released from prison in 2019. Elliot, it turns out, is on lifetime parole for having fatally stabbed his own mother.

Elliot was charged with two counts of felony assault as a hate crime and one count each of attempted assault as a hate crime plus assault and attempted assault. If convicted, Elliot could face years in prison.

The woman was hospitalized with serious injuries and released the following day. She was identified as Vilma Kari from the Philippines and a legal resident of the United States who has every right to be here.

This story has sparked more dialogue about hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. And so it should. Hate crimes are among the ugliest violations of the sanctity of human life — the failure to recognize the dignity and worth of others created in God’s image.

This story, however, should also spark debate about the ugliness of doing nothing in the face of evil. The bystanders failed to seize a moment that could have made a difference.

Our lives are, essentially, a series of moments that tell our respective stories. As we travel through time each of us leave history in our wake — one moment at a time. Each moment that we live is filled with the potential to do good, to do the right thing, to make a difference.

The potential of each moment, however, is unlocked by our choices. And once a moment has come and gone it forever carries with it the imprint of those choices.

The most important and significant moments of our lives seldom present themselves at a convenient time. We rarely receive any warning that our lives are headed toward a moment that will be unlike any other moment we have ever faced — a moment that will present us with an unprecedented opportunity to make a difference beyond the ordinary.

Sadly, three people stood by and watched an ugly thing unfold. Any one of them could have acted or they could have moved together to confront the threat. Instead, they chose the safer option for themselves. As a result, their moment has come and gone and because they did nothing, an old woman was injured and, even worse, could have lost her life.

There will always be haters who do evil things. May we choose to be champions who courageously confront those who, like Brandon Elliot, do evil. May we always stand ready to move in the direction of need when our lives intersect with the ugliness that one human being can unleash on another.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 30, 2021

In His Own Words

One of the best things about serving others is making new friends. In December of last year, I learned about Mr. Henderson, an elderly man in Brookshire whose home had fallen into horrible disrepair. I had to see things for myself — and that meant closing the distance between myself and Mr. Henderson.

When I moved in Mr. Henderson’s direction and met him, I learned just how challenging his situation was. There was no way I could look the other way. I knew that I had to act — to mobilize volunteers to answer Mr. Henderson’s prayers. Working with our friends at The Hangar Unity Center in Brookshire, a ministry of Eyes On Me, we hammered out a game plan to bless Mr. Henderson.

In the span of one week in January, an army of volunteers blessed Mr. Henderson with a home makeover. For the first time in eleven years, Mr. Henderson had running water, a stable roof over his head, and a secure place to live.

Chad Swiggart, videographer for Eyes On Me, prepared a great video about the week we spent blessing Mr. Henderson. I love what we were able to do for this kind gentleman - but the best part of it all for me was making a new friend in Mr. Henderson. I hope you will take a moment to watch the video and listen to Mr. Henderson tell the story in his own words.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 8, 2021

2021 International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge” because a challenged world is an alert world — and from challenge comes change. This theme also acknowledges the reality that we are most in danger when we are not alert. Bad things can happen to us and to others when we are not alert and fail to understand the times — the historical, political, and spiritual context in which we live.

As the church we must choose to challenge — to call out the many ways in which women in their respective contexts around the world are abused, marginalized, neglected, disrespected, and treated with less than the dignity bestowed on them by God.

In order for us to engage we must first understand what is happening. And in order to understand what is happening we must see clearly. In the words of the American essayist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”

The parable of the Good Samaritan recorded in the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37) illustrates the difference between looking at something and actually seeing. In this story, a man on a journey was robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road.

A priest and later a Levite walked down that road and “saw” the poor fellow who had been beaten and left for dead. Sadly, both of them continued on their way. Neither of them stopped to render aid.

However, later in the day a man from Samaria walked by. The Scripture records that he also “saw” the man. However, when he saw him he felt compassion (Lk. 10:33) and that made all the difference. What he saw prompted him to move in the direction of a man in desperate need.

The Samaritan was willing to stop, alter his schedule, and spend his personal resources in order to help another. He displayed what the great American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. called “a dangerous unselfishness.”

King suggested that the priest and the Levite likely thought, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the Good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

And, that’s the question before each of us!

The Gospel of Mark records an account of the only miracle that Jesus performed in two stages (Mark 8:22-26).

A blind man was brought to Jesus at Bethsaida. Jesus took the man aside, put spit on his eyes and laid hands on him, and then asked him if he could see anything. The man replied that he could see men, but they looked like trees walking about — an indication that his sight was blurry.

Jesus laid His hands on the man’s eyes a second time and, as a result, the man could finally see others clearly. Jesus could have healed the blind man with one touch but chose instead to touch the man’s eyes a second time. Perhaps He did so to remind us that insight often comes slowly.

If we are to understand the times and choose to challenge, then we must ask Jesus to touch our eyes a second time so that we too can see clearly.

Hurt and abuse most often happen out of our sight. That’s why we need that second touch that can give us greater vision and insight into the things that happen in the shadows. We must slow down enough to look to our left and to our right in order to develop peripheral compassion — the kind of benevolence that is born out of awareness of what is happening in the periphery of our vision.

Ten years ago I came across a heartbreaking story about a woman named Marie Joseph — a 36-year old mother of five children who went to the community swimming pool to get a little relief from the summer heat.

The swimming pool was packed with people. At some point, a 9 year-old boy saw Marie going down a slide and into the water — but he never saw her resurface. So, the little boy told one of the six life-guards on duty but the life-guards failed to act.

The following day the pool was once again packed with swimmers splashing about and enjoying the water. Then, late Tuesday night after the pool was closed, Marie Joseph’s body floated to the surface at the deep end of the pool.

It’s hard to imagine how a woman could drown in a public swimming pool packed with swimmers and go unnoticed for two days. Six trained life-guards on duty, two teams of pool inspectors, and hundreds of swimmers failed to see Marie Joseph’s lifeless body lying at the bottom of the pool.

Perhaps if the life-guard had acted on the word of the little boy who promptly reported his concern this story might have had a different ending. It appears that a combination of unfortunate factors and distractions converged to keep numerous people from noticing Marie Joseph. She died in plain sight and nobody noticed.

Marie Joseph’s story illustrates the plight of many women today. So many young girls and women are drowning in pools of abuse, in filthy brothels where human traffickers have enslaved them, in cultures where they are victims of violent gang rapes or honor killings, and in marriages where they suffer abuse at the hands of misogynistic husbands.

Girls and women are the most common victims of gendercide which is expressed in three forms: feticide, or sex-selective abortion, infanticide, and gender-based violence.

In countries like India, for example, the three most dangerous words are “It’s a girl.” In 2007, UNICEF estimated that as many as 7,000 girls are aborted in India every single day. Those numbers are likely higher today. And every single day any newspaper in India will include stories of infanticide and gender-based violence against women.

In 2008 while visiting our pregnancy help center in Uganda, I was introduced to the terrible truth about how very young girls are seduced and abused by sex traffickers. What I learned made me angry. How could one human being so abuse another and rob young girls of innocence they would never regain? This was yet another ugly expression of the violation of the sanctity of human life.

After my visit to the aftercare home that cared for young girls rescued from human trafficking in Uganda, I thought about the words of abolitionist William Wilberforce who said, “You may choose to look the other away but you can never say again that you did not know.” I could not look the other way. I knew I had to act.

A friend asked me what I intended to do. “I will challenge the women of my church,” I said. “This injustice against young girls will make them angry and they will become champions for these young girls and others like them.” And that is exactly what happened.

Over the past ten years, Kingsland has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in championing the rights of young girls trapped in the unspeakable hell of being raped daily for the profit of sex traffickers. We mobilize women’s teams to travel internationally to work with our partners in the fight against human trafficking.

Our engagement in this arena began with seeing something horrible that in turn triggered compassion that led to a challenge that resulted in a response that has changed the world for young girls and women in several countries. We are more alert than ever to this horrible reality.

As Christ-followers, our response to what we see reveals much about us and whether we truly embrace the teaching of a biblical worldview that affirms the worth and dignity of others and calls us to move in the direction of people in need in order to make difference.

What are you looking at — or more importantly, what have you seen that has broken your heart?

What will you do to offer the kind of life-saving aid that the Good Samaritan offered?

How is God stirring you to become a champion for those in need?

And when you look back on it all in years to come, what will you be able to say about how you responded when your life intersected with something that broke your heart?

Ask Jesus to touch your eyes a second time and to make you alert to what is happening around you. Determine to act on behalf of the weak. Support initiatives that acknowledge the worth of women and restore dignity to girls and women around the world. Choose to challenge and do your part to change the world.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 7, 2021

Caring for Katy 2021

For the fourteenth year in a row, we closed the doors to the church on a Sunday to go out into the community to be the church. On the last Sunday in February, the people of Kingsland did not come to our campuses to hear a sermon. Instead, they ventured beyond our campuses to be the sermon!

Caring for Katy is one of my favorite days of the year. On this special day we corporately do on a single day what many of our small groups do throughout the year — we move in the direction of people in need.

To add insult to injury, Winter Storm Uri sucker punched folks already hurting from everything pandemic related. There was no better time for us to leave the building to address needs than now.

More than 50 of our small groups engaged in serving others throughout the Katy and Brookshire communities. As a result, needs were met, prayers were answered, and hope was restored to people drowning in desperation.

I am grateful for the Kingsland family for providing both the human and financial resources for us to selflessly serve others in these days of great need. In addition to meeting needs, I love that Caring for Katy provides families with an opportunity to make memories of serving others together. We believe that serving others is a key component in the spiritual formation of the next generation.

Special thanks to every volunteer, young and old, who donned a green shirt and spent the day being the hands and feet of Jesus. Our media team put together a short video that is representative of what Caring for Katy is all about. Enjoy.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 22, 2021

In the Service of Others

As if to add insult to injury, the great state of Texas was slammed by a winter storm that left us all shivering — inside our homes as well as outside.

The snow that covered the greater Houston area transformed our landscapes into winter wonderlands and the unexpected power outages turned our homes into freezers. Families huddled around gas ovens, or gas fireplaces meant more for ambiance than heat, in an effort to stay warm.

In our suburban community, our good friends at Hope Impacts gathered up the homeless and brought them into a warming center hosted by CrossPoint Community Church. So many came to the center that we had to brave the snow covered streets to find more sleeping bags, air mattresses, blankets, and food to deliver to the center.

The cold, we discovered, is no respecter of persons. The power outages and lack of heat put household plumbing under too much stress — so much, in fact, that pipes in homes great and humble broke apart and flooded already frozen homes with cold water. Ceilings gave way under the weight of wet insulation and came crashing down.

Many folks without heat found themselves without water. The cold became even more unbearable and the situation even more miserable. So, our missions ministry sprang into action. This was no time to play it safe or wait until the weather warmed up. Too much was at stake for too many.

All of this brings me to say how grateful I am for the men with whom I serve and for the men of Kingsland who gladly moved in the direction of people in need in spite of the cold.

Over a period of four days we addressed the needs of more than 30 families in desperate need. We gave priority to widows and the elderly and then others in need, including several ministry partners.

We repaired broken plumbing, removed wet carpeting, cleaned up fallen ceilings and shoveled out loads of heavy, wet insulation. We crawled into cold attics and under houses to repair leaks. With plumbing supplies running scarce, we scavenged through our personal inventories to find enough parts to continue helping while awaiting a shipment of plumbing supplies from Tennessee arranged by Todd Pendergrass, our Executive Pastor.

We prayed with and encouraged widows and families and ministry partners. Our presence in a time of desperation brought hope to folks feeling the overwhelming weight of despair. We made a difference because we moved in the direction of people in need.

At the start of the pandemic I asked myself, “What do you want to say when you look back on these days? Will you be able to say that you glorified God by loving and serving others?” I asked myself the same question during the winter storm.

The reality is that many needs go unmet if we only help others when it is safe or convenient to do so. Choosing to play it safe often leaves others in danger. Inconvenience and risk are at the heart of making a difference.

The winter storm presented us with an opportunity to heed the words of the old hymn:
Rise Up, O Men of God
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of kings.

As I worked alongside the men on our staff and their sons, my Band of Fathers group, and the men of Kingsland, I thought about my favorite line from the remake of The Magnificent Seven: “To be in the service of others, with men I respect, like you all, I shouldn’t have to ask for more than that.”

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 11, 2021

Lessons From Failed Adventures

I love adventure.

Over the years, I have participated in amazing adventures from the Lone Star State to the ends of the earth. I not only enjoy adventures that make my heart race, I also like everything about researching, planning, making lists, packing gear, and every little thing associated with preparing for a grand adventure.

I also love shared adventure.

For the past several years I have met with a small group of men dedicated to embracing God’s vision for biblical manhood. We call ourselves Band of Fathers. In addition to meeting weekly to study together, we also enjoy serving others together and sharing adventures.

We consume lots of books about fatherhood and manhood written from a biblical worldview. We also read and discuss books about explorers and adventures.

We recently completed a sobering book entitled “Death in Big Bend: True Stories of Death and Rescue in Big Bend National Park.” In reality, only two of the stories are about guys who survived their respective adventures gone awry. The rest were not so fortunate.

Our purpose in reading this particular book was to glean lessons about the things that can get men into trouble — deep and often deadly trouble. The outdoor stories recorded in this book serve as metaphors for how men fail, fumble, or fall in their everyday lives.

What follows are lessons we gleaned from these stories. Heeding these simple lessons can help men survive and even thrive when things take a turn for the worse.

Alone is dangerous.

I confess that I have adventured alone, many times. Adventuring alone, however, can be dangerous. Doing life alone can also be dangerous. An old pilgrim writer cautioned that Satan is a pirate looking for a vessel without a fleet.

Adventuring alone is the most common reason the men in the stories got into trouble. With only a few exceptions, all of those who died ventured out alone. They made decisions without anyone to offer an alternative suggestion or to push back on what they were thinking — and when things subsequently started to unravel, these adventurers were vulnerable because they had no one to help them in their time of trouble.

Pride is deadly.
More than one person in the stories got into trouble because they were too proud to accept that they were in deep weeds. As a result, they made choices that led them deeper into trouble rather than considering options that could have saved their lives.

Don’t overestimate your abilities.
The vast majority of the adventurers who died or had to be rescued were physically fit. Many had a good track record of outdoor accomplishments. However, they put too much confidence in their physical abilities. As a result they failed to adequately prepare for possible factors that might compromise their safety or sap them of physical strength.

Don’t underestimate the environment.
The other side of the overestimating-your-abilities-coin is underestimating the environment. Big Bend National Park is situated in the Chihuahuan Desert — a hard and unforgiving place that can quickly bring the most seasoned adventurers to their knees, or worse. When things turn bad nature most often wins, defeating even the toughest guys.

Listen to those with more experience.
Some of the saddest stories in the book are about guys who failed to consult or to take the advice of those with far more experience. Whether failing to listen to those with greater experience about gear or the terrain or other factors, the failure to listen cost more than one of these weekend adventurers their lives.

Be prepared.
Many of the men in the stories died because they failed to follow the old Boy Scout adage to be prepared. Several ventured out without adequate provisions or any kind of contingency supplies for emergencies. Something as simple as a ninety-nine cent space blanket could have saved more than one of the guys who met an untimely end.

Think clearly.
Failing to think clearly resulted in the deaths of several in the book. Many who found themselves in trouble made wrong choices that resulted in things unraveling just a bit more — which led them to make another wrong choice until this cycle resulted in their death.

Live to adventure another day.
This should be the mantra of every adventurer. Sometimes you have to make the hard choice to turn around short of your goal and go back home — and then return to try another day.

In 1908, Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackelton made the hard call to turn back when he was within reach of the South Pole. After assessing his situation, he determined that if he pressed on he and his men would run out of food and die on the way back. He later wrote to his wife, “I thought you’d rather have a live donkey than a dead lion.”

Whether your adventures take you to Big Bend or other locations, I recommend reading this book. If nothing else, the stories will cause you to reevaluate your planning and to take a second look at your gear, your route, and your preparedness. I remain committed to careful planning lest I become the next story of death or rescue in Big Bend or elsewhere.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 17, 2021

Blessing Mr. Henderson

A few weeks ago I learned about the plight of Mr. Henderson, an elderly gentleman who lives in Brookshire. My friends Ryan Orbin and Dr. Maria Sobarzo both told me about him within hours of each other.

Mr. Henderson, I learned, was living in an old home that had sustained damage during Hurricane Harvey in addition to heavy wear and tear that had compromised the integrity of the house. He had been living without running water for 11 years — and without hot water.

Mr. Henderson learned to live with inconvenience.

The roof of his house leaked like a sieve every time it rained. Over time, the water damaged and rotted roof rafters, walls, flooring, and floor joists. Over time the plumbing in his home developed so many leaks that he had to turn off the water at the meter.

Once a day, Mr. Henderson turned the water on at the water meter, quickly filled two 5-gallon buckets, and then turned off the water. He boiled water in order to sponge bathe and also used the water in the buckets to flush his toilet — every day for the past 11 years.

When I met Mr. Henderson and looked at his home, my heart sank. The only thing worse than the damage was anyone having to live in those conditions. We had to act.

My initial thought was to mobilize volunteers to repair his home on Saturdays over the span of two months. After more thought, I called Ryan and proposed doing all of the work in one week. This would be a big project, for sure. And everything would have to work perfectly in order to get things done in that time period.

I invited my friends Allen Griffin of Gryphon Builders, and Charles Leftwich, a Kingsland Community Group Leader, to meet me and Ryan at Mr. Griffin’s home. Allen is a master builder and Charles agreed to take a week of vacation to help with the remodeling initiative.

Before we could even start we had to address tree-trimming in order to get dumpsters delivered to the work site. Marcell Hunt and our disaster response chain saw crew took care of the tree trimming. Phil Clausen, also with our disaster response team, did mold remediation in the house prior to our start date of January 11.

Allen assessed all of the damage and put together the work flow for the week plus materials list. Charles helped me with volunteer mobilization and work assignments for volunteers.

Allen’s was the most frequently spoken name through the week. He guided us through the difficult process of rebuilding the home’s infrastructure and raising the damaged side of the house.

Repairing Mr. Henderson’s home was a lot like eating an elephant. This project was certainly a big bite. And the more we got into it the more gristle we found, making it even tougher to chew.

But, thanks to the tireless work of so many volunteers who worked long hours on very cold days, we pressed on. Every work crew took ownership of their slice of the work and little by little things began to take a turn for the better.

The roof was a major concern. Ian Norman of Gryphon Builders led a crew to replace the damaged rafters and the rotted roof decking. On Thursday, a team of professional roofers arrived and completed the roof in one day. In addition, electricians, plumbers, and window guys all arrived on schedule to do their work.

Of course, an army of volunteers needs fuel in order to keep working. Gene Garrison and our disaster response cooking crew took care of providing the fuel. We enjoyed delicious meals every day of the project.

While our crews were working at the site, my friends and Kingsland members Kara Potts and Kelly McCurry worked together to arrange for furniture donations and all of the things Mr. Henderson would need in his kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. They recruited additional volunteers to help with the task of furnishing the house.

Mr. Henderson was especially excited about his new shower and flushing toilet. On Saturday, he took his first hot shower in 11 years. No more boiling water to sponge bathe. And no more buckets of water to flush his toilet.

The best part of the week was becoming friends with Mr. Henderson. He is an absolutely nice gentleman who overflowed with gratitude every day of the remodel. He told me more than once how long he had been praying for help. “God heard your prayers,” I told Him, “and He sent us to bless you.”

In a way, we were all sad to see the project come to an end because we enjoyed our time with Mr. Henderson every day. But, we are all sleeping better knowing that our new friend has a safer and more comfortable home to live out the rest of his days.

I am deeply grateful for every volunteer who spent so many hours to make this home makeover a reality. They modeled what Jesus did best — moving in the direction of people in need and making a difference. And we all made a new friend who deeply touched our hearts. Thank you all for blessing Mr. Henderson.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 7, 2020

Missions Beyond the Pandemic

Our missions ministry welcomed the year 2020 with great expectations. The first two months of the year were busy as Kingsland teams served in Cambodia, Guatemala, India, and Egypt. Beyond these trips we had a full and busy year of travel scheduled.

I was especially excited to lead a team of men to Nepal in March to conduct the first of four global Men of Courage Summits designed to call men to embrace God’s vision for biblical manhood. Our partners were hard at work enlisting hundreds of men to participate in each of these strategic summits.

And then a novel coronavirus came along and changed everything. As the pandemic swept across the globe leaving devastation in its wake, it became apparent that we would have to cancel all international travel for the foreseeable future.

Our missions ministry immediately pivoted to begin meeting pandemic-related needs in our community and among the nations. As I often remind those who travel with us — you must be more than flexible because flexibility is still too stiff. You must instead be fluid and ready to adapt to whatever challenges come across our path.

One of the most significant initiatives we engaged in on the local front was to work with local partners to address food insecurity in the community of Brookshire. From March to November we helped to underwrite and staff 19 food distributions that blessed more than 450 families per distribution.

On the international front, we worked with our partners in India, Bangladesh, Guatemala, and Egypt to underwrite food distributions and provide personal protective equipment for the poor. And, we never missed a beat in regard to caring for those with whom we partner to engage with our sixteen adopted unreached people groups.

I could write much more about many other meaningful initiatives that we engaged in to care for people in need through this incredibly challenging year. Suffice it to say that I am thankful for the generosity of our Kingsland family whose gifts have enabled us to consistently move in the direction of people in need throughout 2020.

As we look to 2021, we are hopeful. We know that the coronavirus cannot infect our prayers for our international and domestic partnerships. Nor can it stop us from underwriting initiatives that enable our partners to care for people in need in their respective missional contexts. The coronavirus cannot kept the Word of God from bringing the spiritual healing and hope that many long for.

This week, Kingsland members will receive a copy of our 2021 missions ministry update in the mail. In the past this update has focused on our international work. This year we have included an overview of the domestic partnerships that enable us to move in the direction of people in need throughout the greater Houston area.

I encourage you to read and to use this report to fuel your prayers, inspire greater generosity, and spur you to love and serve others. Determine to live in such a way that when you look back on this difficult chapter of history you will rejoice that God used you to glorify Him by moving in the direction of people in need.

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