Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 20, 2022

Austin’s Personal Mission

Last week we celebrated the life of my friend Austin Armstrong. He was only 25 years old when he died peacefully in his sleep after years of battling cancer. He was truly a remarkable young man. Here is why.

Malcolm Muggeridge was a British journalist, an atheist who would later come to faith in Christ. He was the man who introduced Mother Teresa to the world in 1967. When he finally met Mother Teresa, she told him, “I am only a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

There is something deeply profound about what Mother Teresa told Muggeridge. God indeed wants to write a legible message of love to the world through each of us. He can only do so, however, as we make ourselves available to Him.

My dear friend Austin understood the significance of making himself available to God, without regard for any recognition or attention or honor for himself. Like Jesus, he was willing to become a man of no reputation in order to advance the interests of the kingdom.

Austin simply found great joy in living out his faith — in allowing God to use him to write and send a love letter to the world. He faithfully pursued the passions of God and gave himself without reservation to the purposes of God.

From an early age Austin lived his life intentionally — so much so, in fact, that he wrote his own personal mission statement. Who does that? How many people do you know who have a personal mission statement to govern their life? Austin did!

This was Austin’s mission statement: Strive to love, encourage, and help every soul I come in contact with and purposefully seek to further the kingdom of God.

Austin did not just write out a mission statement for the sake of doing so. He lived out that mission statement. It informed his decisions, guided his actions, and advanced the work of the kingdom as he had hoped.

After Austin died, I heard about one individual who said that Austin saved his life. At a time when this individual was contemplating taking his own life God used a little pencil named Austin to write a reassuring message of hope that brought the beauty of life back into focus.

On another occasion, while en route to a memorial service for a friend, he saw a car stuck in the mud by the side of the road. Most if not all of us would have just kept going — but not Austin. He stopped and helped a stranger push their car out of the mud. He got so dirty that he had to hurry and change in order to attend the memorial service.

Once again, God used a little pencil named Austin to write a brief sentence in a stranger’s life about the difference selfless service can make. Austin once again lived out his personal mission statement by helping someone whom God had put in his path.

Austin traveled with me to Jordan to serve Syrian refugees who had fled to Jordan for safety. I watched as Austin loved and served people who had lost all of their possessions and, in many cases, also lost their family and friends. Once again, God used a little pencil named Austin to write the lyrics of unconditional love across hearts ravaged by the ugliness of a civil war.

Even in the hospital, Austin unwittingly fulfilled his purpose statement. He helped others because of his participation in several clinical trials for the treatment of cancer.

These are just a few examples of how Austin lived out his personal mission statement and, by doing so, allowed God to write a love story to the world through his life.

Austin placed his life in the hands of a writing God. And because he made himself available to God, God was able to write more beautiful stories through him in 25 years than through many who cling to selfishness, refuse to regard others as more important than themselves, and live to be a hundred.

There is so much more I could write about Austin, but suffice it to say that the world would be better served if each of us thought deeply about our lives, wrote out a personal mission statement, and then placed ourselves in the hands of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.

I will miss Austin but know that he is healed and is safely at home in the arms of Jesus whom he loved. I am a better person because God used a little pencil named Austin to write a part of His love story in my own heart.

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

The 5511 Initiative

A Christian teenager gave me a paperback copy of the New Testament on February 19, 1973. I was a junior in high school at the time and had never read the Bible. Little did I realize that my friend’s simple act of kindness would change my life.

I took that New Testament home and began to read it that night. As I read through the New Testament I was fascinated by the life and ministry of Jesus, by the commitment of those who courageously shared His message, and by the practical instruction contained throughout the New Testament.

The Psalmist (119:130) declared that the entrance of God’s Word give light. I found this to be true. The light of God’s Word enabled me to see what I otherwise had been unable to see. The more I read, the more convicted I became that something was missing in my life.

Within a matter of weeks I heard a presentation of the gospel message. For the first time in my life I understood my sinful condition and my need for Jesus Christ. The words I had read in my paperback New Testament suddenly became real.

I repented of my sins and placed my faith in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation. God had used the kindness of a Christian teenager to get my attention and eventually lead me to faith in Christ.

My story illustrates the truth of Isaiah 55:11 where God declared that His Word would not return to Him empty or without succeeding in the matter for which He sent it.

Over the next year we are challenging the people of Kingsland as well as our domestic and international partners to distribute more than 150,000 copies of God’s Word to those who have never owned or read a Bible. We trust that by doing so God will open doors for us to have spiritual conversations or to at least encourage others to read the story of Jesus.

Several of our international partners have already started their distribution of Bibles funded by our missions ministry. We are already hearing stories of people coming to faith in Christ as a result. Over the coming months our others partners will distribute copies of the Scripture in locations all over the globe.

Our Kingsland distribution starts this month. We have challenged every member of the Kingsland family to share “Hope for Your Home.” This is a special edition of Luke’s Gospel that we have produced. We are encouraging the recipients to read the story of Jesus throughout the month of December. And we are trusting that God’s Word will lead many to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 28, 2021

Why Hope Matters

Eric Hoffer was a San Francisco dockworker who rose to prominence in the American literary and philosophical scene in 1951 when he published his first book, The True Believer. I read Hoffer’s book in college and have never forgotten what he wrote about hope.

Hoffer observed that in a modern society, people can live without hope only when kept dazed and out of breath by incessant hustling. He was right. Incessant hustling distracts many people from coming face to face with despair.

The coronavirus pandemic interrupted the incessant hustling of billions. Around the globe, people were forced to look despair in the eye. Like the Israelites who had covered their doorposts and lintels with the blood of a lamb, people sheltered in place and prayed the coronavirus would pass over their homes.

The pandemic also exacerbated already difficult situations. For those who struggle daily to survive, food insecurities made life more difficult. Health concerns became more ominous. Job layoffs and school closures created unexpected challenges. These and other difficulties obscured the light of hope for many.

Our missions ministry pivoted to meet pandemic-related needs in our community and among the nations. Chief among those needs was restoring, rekindling, and reviving hope in the lives of desperate people.

We addressed food insecurity, health concerns, and more. Working through our many partners, we looked for ways to strategically meet needs, keep despair at bay, and allow the warm rays of hope to bathe troubled hearts.

Our missions ministry has published and mailed Kingsland families and guests a copy of “Hope for the Nations” - our 2021-2022 report and update. Watch for it in your mailbox.

Every initiative detailed in this report tells a story of why hope matters. We believe that apart from God there is no real hope for troubled souls or troubled nations. That is why we are committed to sharing His story and demonstrating His love around the globe. We remain committed to caring for people in their respective missional contexts.

I am grateful for the generosity of our Kingsland family that enables us to offer the only real hope for the nations — Jesus Christ and His generous offer of eternal life to all who place their faith in Him.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 25, 2021

Releasing the Oppressed

According to Ben Franklin, death and taxes are regarded as the two inescapable certainties in this life. And indeed they are. Debt, however, is a close third. Most people in the world know what it means to be in debt.

Debt is preventable but often unavoidable. Many enter into debt because they lack the discipline to delay gratification. However, others incur debt because they are out of options or find themselves backed into a corner by unexpected hardships.

On September 17, 1955, the late country singer Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded a song entitled “Sixteen Tons” — a single that sold more than one million copies in the month after its release. The song lamented the misery of being in debt and instantly resonated with people all over the country.

My favorite lyric sums up the frustration of trying to get out of debt:

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter don’t you call me, ‘cause I can’t go.
I owe my soul to the company store.

A few weeks ago one of our missions partners asked me to pray for some Christian families in a South Asian country who are living as indentured servants. These families are now into a second generation of servitude, trying to pay off debt incurred by the previous generation because of unexpected emergencies.

Each of the families make a combined income of less than five dollars a day and have spent a lifetime working for the lender, trying to pay off their debt. The children of these families are unable to attend school because they must also work to help their respective families pay off their debt.

The reality is that there is little hope that any of these families will ever know what it means to be free of debt. In the words made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford, the result of their efforts is that they are “another day older and deeper in debt.”

I asked our partner to provide me with profiles of these families and the amount owed by each. To my surprise, the amounts were modest by our standards — anywhere from one to two thousand US dollars, but an insurmountable amount for these debtors.

After discussion and prayer, our missions ministry set aside funds to get these families out of debt — step one. The next step is to help these families to secure self-sustaining employment so that they do not have to go into debt again. One of the ways we are doing this is by buying farm animals that can help these families to support themselves by selling milk and meat.

This month we liberated the first family. The father is now 65 years-old. As a child he worked with his father to try to pay off their family’s debt. After his father died, the debt fell to him and he has spent his lifetime trying to pay it off. We paid the final thousand dollars plus that he owed and set him and his family on a new course to financial freedom.

This week we will provide him with farm animals. His son and daughter were able to find jobs paying a higher wage than they were getting by working for the lender. Together, this family will now make enough and set aside enough to live debt free.

When Jesus started His ministry, He went to the synagogue in the village of Nazareth, His boyhood home, and read from Isaiah 61:1-2. Isaiah’s prophetic words looked to the time when one would come in “the Spirit of the Lord … anointed to preach good news to the poor … freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

We are grateful for the opportunity to be the hands of Jesus by releasing the oppressed family in South Asia and those to follow. This is just one small way we are making a difference in the lives of families and empowering homes around the globe.

I am grateful for the people of Kingsland whose generosity makes it possible for us to move in the direction of people in need and make a difference.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 13, 2021

Welcoming Afghan Refugees

There is, perhaps, nothing more comforting than home — the geographical context that plays a key role in our growth and development as human beings. We all are shaped by the particular worldview considerations of the people and the place where we are raised. Our lives are also impacted by the respective challenges associated with those places.

For more than 40 years, the people who call Afghanistan home have suffered because of conflicts, natural disasters, chronic poverty, food insecurity, and the pandemic. In that relatively short period of time, approximately 6 million Afghans have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Nearly half of these have fled to other countries while the others remain internally displaced within their own borders.

Afghan refugees are the third-largest displaced people in the world behind Syrians and Venezuelans. Most recently, according to the UNHCR, an estimated 570,000 Afghans have been forced to relocate within the country since January 2021 because of insecurity and violence. The intimidating presence of the Taliban will only make things worse in the months to come.

The recent departure of American troops from Afghanistan precipitated a whole new wave of people fleeing their homes. The news images of desperate people clinging to a military plane departing Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul was heartbreaking. Few people will ever know that kind of desperation or appreciate a longing for a safer future that would cause you to risk it all.

The lives of those leaving Afghanistan will be forever changed as the waves of their diaspora wash them up on other shores, including ours. They will face many challenges as they settle into their new homes in places unfamiliar and strange. They will miss and long for family members they may never again see on this earth.

The greater Houston area will become home for many of the families who have fled Afghanistan. Over the next several months we expect several thousand refugees to arrive in Houston. Working with two of the local organizations that welcome refugees to our area, Kingsland is positioned to help.

At present, our Missions Ministry and our International People Groups Ministry are working together on two initiatives.

First, we are recruiting Welcome Teams who will be assigned to serve refugee families — starting with meeting them at the airport. Each team will walk with their assigned family for several months and assist them with everything from getting their kids enrolled in school to navigating the fourth largest and most ethnically diverse city in the country.

Second, we have asked our church family to assemble four distinctive welcome kits with essentials that each arriving family will need. These include a personal hygiene kit with bath towels, a tablewares kit, a cooking kit, and a household cleaning kit. Each kit will also contain a personal note of welcome and encouragement. We hope to provide several hundred of these kits over the next two weeks.

We are motivated to help because we love Jesus who consistently moved in the direction of people in need. The arrival of Afghan refugees offers yet one more opportunity for our compassion to intersect with desperate need. We look forward to loving and serving our new Afghan neighbors.

You can learn more about Kingsland’s Afghan Refugee Response on our website.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 18, 2021

Serve Brookshire 2021

Something beautiful happened last week in the small community of Brookshire, Texas.

For the past fifteen years in the month of July, Kingsland’s student ministry has mobilized and sent students to serve on mission from Houston’s inner city neighborhoods all the way to the ends of the earth. Every year, hundreds of students move in the direction of people in need to share and show God’s love.

The pandemic, however, changed all that and forced us to pivot and find new ways to engage our students with a hurting world. Our student ministry leaders made the decision to keep our students at home this summer while our world slowly inches its way back to some sense of normalcy.

That’s where Brookshire comes in. Kingsland’s missions ministry has a strategic partnership with The Hangar Unity Center in Brookshire. The Hangar is a ministry of Eyes On Me, an organization that exists to mentor, disciple, and serve at-risk kids and their families. Kingsland invests lots of financial and human resources at The Hangar.

At Kingsland, we value service as a key component of spiritual formation and provide year-round opportunities for our people to serve others. This past week our students served with our friends at The Hangar to love and bless the Brookshire community.

Our students led a Vacation Bible School, painted a dozen homes, delivered food to hundreds of impoverished families, completed several campus improvement projects at The Hangar, mowed and cleaned city lots, refurbished a city park, and completed several projects to beautify the nearby Manna House campus.

All of the activity prompted a local resident to post this on social media:

“I don’t know what’s going on in Brookshire, Texas but I love it! I see the youth on every block working at some of the elders’ homes. I’m not sure who put this together but it’s a great idea. Please let me know if I can be of any service.”

This is just one sample of the great feedback we received from the community. Our students had lots of opportunities to have spiritual conversations and to remind those they served of how much God loves them.

Please take a moment to watch this brief video that will give you a sense of the scope of our student ministry’s Serve Brookshire 2021 initiative. You will see that something beautiful not only happened in Brookshire, but in the hearts of our students as well.

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

Men of Courage Devotional Guide

I have long admired the sons of Issachar in the Old Testament. While we don’t know a lot about these guys, the Bible describes them as “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). We can safely conjecture that the sons of Issachar were not passive but instead were men who thought deeply in order to live wisely — in a manner consistent with the teachings of Scripture (Psalm 1:2).

This past year, our missions ministry was scheduled to hold Men of Courage Summits in Nepal, Cambodia, India, and Brazil. The purpose of these summits was to call men to understand the times and to challenge them to embrace God’s design for biblical manhood.

Our initial summit in Uganda was a huge success as three-hundred men assembled to worship, study, and pray together. We addressed how to avoid the dangers of getting caught in dangerous cultural currents that sweep men away from God’s design for manhood. We challenged these men to do life in community because alone is dangerous.

Unfortunately, the pandemic shut down our international travel. Like us, our international partners had to pivot to address the challenges and needs that grew out of the pandemic. We agreed to reschedule our summits when their respective countries once again allowed large gatherings.

One of the most important things about our Men of Courage Summit is calling men to do life in community and to meet with other men on a regular basis. To that end, our Men of Courage teaching team wrote a 26-week devotional guide for men. The guide is structured around five key topics:

The Culture War
A Battle to Fight
A Beauty to Rescue
The Characteristics of a Man of Courage
An Adventure to Live

This study guide has been written with the sons of Issachar in mind. The kingdom of God needs men who understand the times — men who have the requisite courage and audacity to push back on a culture that seeks to redefine manhood. More than ever before, we need men who will embrace God’s vision and design for biblical manhood and who will shine as lights “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Philippians 2:15).

Our Men of Courage Biblical Manhood Devotional Guide will be available this Sunday, Father’s Day, at Kingsland’s Central and North Katy campuses. We encourage every man in attendance to pick up a copy and then to find at least one other man or a group of men to meet with weekly to work through the topics and to pray together.

Let’s determine to be like the sons of Issachar and to live and lead in accordance with the teachings of Scripture in the midst of a hostile culture. In the words of the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 16:13-14):

Be on your guard,
stand firm in faith,
be men of courage,
be strong;
do everything in love.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 4, 2021

Behind the Scenes in Alaska

Anchorage is a long way from Houston. However, like the Bayou City, Anchorage is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the nation. Beyond the diversity of the indigenous population, Alaska is home to peoples from all over the world. They are here along with their respective heart languages and world views.

Alaska is home to some great churches but is the least church-attending state in the Union. And sadly, this beautiful land of the midnight sun has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the country — nearly twice the national average. Suicide is the leading cause of death here for people ages 15 to 24. There is much need here.

To help ensure that both those who move to or already live in Alaska have an opportunity to hear the good news about Jesus, Kingsland’s missions ministry entered into a strategic partnership with GraceWorks Alaska in 2015. Founded by my friend Scott Kirby, this ministry hosts mission volunteers to work directly with non-churched children and their families.

Managing and moving so many volunteers from Point A to Point B is no easy task and one that requires a lot of vehicles. And GraceWorks has a lot of vehicles that get a pretty tough workout on Alaskan roads.

Every year, before the volunteers begin to arrive, GraceWorks must ensure that all of their vehicles are in good repair. That’s where we come in. Our missions ministry and men’s ministry work together to mobilize a team annually to service the GraceWorks fleet — doing tune-ups, oil changes, and some vehicle-specific maintenance.

Servicing vehicles is a behind-the-scenes but necessary part of what it takes to advance God’s purposes in the biggest state in America. What we do helps ensure that those who come to serve with GraceWorks have safe and reliable transportation to make it to and from their respective ministry sites.

With more than 30 vehicles in their fleet, ours is one of two teams who have committed to the important task of caring for the GraceWorks vehicles. We tag team to make sure that every service item is addressed over the span of two weeks. The work has its surprises and challenges but is always fulfilling.

We begin our day with team devotions and then head to the garage after breakfast. We spend long days crawling under vehicles, bent over under hoods, making supply runs to the local auto parts store, and addressing vehicle-specific repairs. It’s always cold in the garage but the thought of making it possible for volunteers to advance God’s purposes in Anchorage and beyond warms our hearts.

Sometimes being the hands of Jesus means grabbing a wrench and crawling under a vehicle on a cold garage floor. This is all about more than tune-ups and oil changes. Ultimately it’s about advancing God’s purposes and making Jesus known in a place blessed with breath-taking natural beauty. I am grateful for our team and our partnership with GraceWorks Alaska.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 26, 2021

Questions I Hope God Will Not Ask Me

I often think about heaven - perhaps because I am getting older. And while the Scriptures describe heaven as a remarkable place, I am in no particular hurry to get there. I did, however, make a list of the ten things I don’t want for God to ask me when I finally arrive in my heavenly home and stand before Him.

My list reminds me that if I want to hear God say to me “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21), then I have to live in such a way that will make it possible for Him to say these words to me. So, here is my list of ten tough questions I hope I don’t have to answer in heaven.

10. Why did you make so many excuses? | Making excuses is one thing most of us do best. It’s something we instinctively do to try to get ourselves off the hook when we feel someone is reeling us in on the line of accountability. Excuses release us from obligations, keep us from fulfilling our duty, and ultimately distance us from our potential. I don’t want to go through life making excuses about why I failed to do what I should have done. I need to own my failures, learn from them, and move on. No excuses!

9. Why did you blame others? | Blaming others started in the garden when Adam complained to God, “The woman You gave to be with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12). The woman then blamed the serpent. And, human beings have been blaming others ever since. Blaming others may anesthetize us from the pain of our own foolish choices but blaming others can’t protect us from the consequences of those choices. Regardless of how others have treated me or what they may have done to hurt me, I am ultimately responsible for making wise choices. The buck stops with me!

8. Why didn’t you take more risks? | The dictionary defines “risk” as “exposure to the chance of injury or loss; the possibility of suffering harm.” That’s why most people don’t like to take risks. However, progress always involves risk. Someone noted that a ship in the harbor may be safe, but that’s not what ships were built for. Unless we are willing to lose sight of the shore we will not make any progress nor will we reach the distant shore. And, let’s not fool ourselves — failing to take risks is also risky. As for me, I opt for taking risks!

7. Why did you remain silent? | Silence is not golden when it comes to matters of eternal significance. Christ-followers are obligated to share the story of redemption with the world (Rom. 1:14). And, we are obligated to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves — the destitute, poor, needy, and oppressed (Prov. 31:8-9). Our silence is costly. I am committed to speaking up.

6. Why didn’t you recognize me? | Mother Teresa urged her Missionaries of Charity to go to the dark places to look for Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor, the naked, the hungry, and the sick. These are the people who live in the blurry world of our peripheral vision. How many times have I sped past Jesus in His distressing disguise? I am determined to slow down and to look more carefully at those around me. And, when I find Jesus in His distressing disguise, I want to do for that person what Jesus would do.

5. Why did you rob me? | Everything we have is a gift from God. Rather than seeing ourselves as owners of what we have, we must see ourselves as stewards. When we fail to support the work of God through our tithes and offerings, we are guilty of robbing God (Malachi 3:8). We can’t justify this crime by saying that we give to Him in other ways (like our time and talent). If we can’t trust God to care for us after we have given our tithes and offerings, then why trust Him with our salvation? I refuse to rob God.

4. Why didn’t you lay up more treasures in heaven? | It’s easy to say we believe in eternity and yet live as if there were nothing beyond this world. Jim Elliot, martyred in Ecuador in 1956, said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” We must consider the eternal value of whatever we accomplish or invest in on earth. Since our hearts tend to be wrapped around our treasures, I am determined to treasure God and to give myself to the things that will outlast me and endure for eternity.

3. Why were you unkind to others? | In a world in which people commit hateful, cruel, and violent acts toward others, Christ-followers must set an example of kindness (Prov. 3:3-4). Every time I hear of another terrorist attack, I am reminded that Jesus never took a life but instead gave His life. Nor did He ever command His followers to harm or to use violence against those who reject Him or His claims. I am determined to look for opportunities to be kind to others and to respect them.

2. Why did you try to take so much of the credit? | There is something about us that likes to take the credit for good things. I heard about a woodpecker working hard to peck a hole in a tall pine tree. A bolt of lightning struck the tree, split it in two, and knocked the woodpecker to the ground. When the woodpecker regained consciousness, he surveyed the scene and remarked, “Wow! I didn’t know I had it in me.” May God help me to always remember that He is the One who makes good things happen and deserves the credit.

1. Why didn’t you spend more time with me? | Many of us are addicted to activity and to noise — constantly on the move from morning until night. Taking on too many activities can leave us too dazed and out of breath to spend quality time with God. Ultimately, it is the time we spend with Him that impacts every other thing on this list. When Peter and John were summoned before the religious leaders in Jerusalem, Luke recorded that when the religious leaders “saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). If I want for people to say that about me, then I need to spend more time with Jesus.

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.

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