From Press Reports
Emily Russell said the look on the faces of the children when you said, “Hey, I am with Mission Arlington, I have your new bike!” was completely priceless.
First Baptist Church member Russell was among 14 students from Blue Mountain College Baptist Student Union who traveled to Arlington, Texas, during the week of Dec. 7-12 to help with the Christmas Store as part of Mission Arlington.
Russell said one of the highlights of the week was when the BSU passed out about 27 bicycles to one apartment complex in downtown Arlington. She said the children receiving the bikes lived in poverty and had never received a bike for Christmas.
“The parents were just as, if not more, excited than the children when they got the bikes,” Russell said. “We are so proud of Emily and all of the students that sacrificed a portion of their Christmas break to share the love of Jesus,” said the Rev. Travis Gray of First Baptist Church of Eupora.
Maria Teel, director of admissions and team leader, said, “It was such a joy to have Emily Russell as part of our mission team. She is a hard worker and was willing to do any task that was presented to her. Some very chilly mornings she had parking lot duty but most every day for her ended in the nursery. It’s not easy to calm a crying baby you’ve just met, but Emily was able to do just that and did it with grace.”
Russell said, “Mission Arlington began in 1986 and is a way for ordinary people to serve their community in a big way.”
Russell said Mission Arlington is open year around and serve the towns of Arlington and Grand Prairie, Texas, through the Christmas Store, apartment churches and other mission work throughout the cities. The families they serve are mainly Hispanic families from either Texas or from Mexico.
“We had different jobs that we worked on each day,” Russell said. “I worked in child care, on parking lot duty, and in the Christmas Store itself.”
Russell is the daughter of Paul and Anita Russell.
Mission Arlington brought in more than 400 children and 1,500 adults on their first day of opening. The Christmas store stays open from Dec. 5-21. Mission Arlington has opened the Christmas Store to the Arlington community for 25 years. Each year the Christmas Store offers the opportunity for thousands of people in need to shop for (free) gifts for their children. Before entering the store, parents/ guardians hear the story of the birth of Jesus Christ as told in Luke 2. The Mission Arlington staff makes it clear to visitors that “there’s no store without the Story.”
According to the website, when Mission Arlington began in August of 1986, the idea was to help people find their way back into church … it didn’t take long before they realized “that if people couldn’t come to the church, for whatever reason, we would take the church to them.”
Lauren Musgrave of the Mission Arlington Christmas store, said 8,587 families were served through the store and 33,925 individual lives were touched through shopping for gifts or receiving gifts from the store.
“Most importantly, 362 people made a decision to trust Christ as savior, and another 1,069 made some type of decision such as rededicating their lives to Christ or asking how to join a Bible study in their local community,” Musgrave said.
The Christmas story was told in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic and American Sign Language this year.
“When I see the Blue Mountain BSU on the list to help out for the week, I know ‘the cavalry is coming!’” Musgrave said.
Throughout the week, the Blue Mountain BSU missions team also had an opportunity to work with Amanda Cowart, BMC graduate, at Catholic Charities of Fort Worth wrapping and delivering Christmas gifts to children in nearby communities. Many of the children who were visited are refugees to the United States from countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Democratic Republic of the Congo.