My Worst Christmas
Writer Author Bishop James ‘I Feel God’ Brown
- Fiction No
Arlington Texas is the home of The Texas Rangers baseball team; the original Six Flags, Six Flags Over Texas; and sits 15 miles away from its bigger twin sisters, Dallas to the east and Fort Worth to the west. Less well known in the hustle and bustle of the metroplex is a lady with a mission. She is the Executive Director of Mission Arlington missionarlington.org
Have you ever met someone who, single handedly, made you wonder about your own dedication and spiritual values? A person whose altruism, compassion, and humility overshadowed anything you could have imagined for your life? In my life there have only been a handful that could take me there and fewer still who did.
I would like to take the time to introduce you to one in particular, a woman known simply as “Miss Tillie”. Her name is Tillie Burgin.
Over the last 6 or 7 years, I have had the privilege of working and interacting with “Miss Tillie”, who the media has dubbed "The Mother Theresa of Arlington". Although she has the ability to make grown men lower their heads as she approaches, there is nothing overpowering about her physical stature at 5 foot 5 inches and 85 pounds. The thing that is most distinguishing about this white haired 70 plus year old grandmother is her commitment to prayer and her servants’ heart.
Let me give you an example of the later, three weeks before Christmas I took some pastors over to see the Mission Arlington facilities. It happened to be the first day of the Christmas Store – excuse me I mean STORY - where thousands of children and families are able to shop and get NEW toys and gifts for every child. Parents don’t need to prove their income or troubles here! Just bring proof that the kids really exist and take whatever you need.
On the first day or so the story (store) is opened to the members of over 200 churches and bible studies where Mission Arlington has pioneered urban missions. After that, it is open to the public until Christmas Eve. Every night the store is restocked from semi-trailers in the parking lots. That way each child - first or last - gets "good" stuff.
Anyway, back to my example, after having the volunteers call with radios to find where Miss Tillie was (and getting a batch of hugs from long time friends in the process) we finally found her.
On this fairly cold day Texas day, my group of pastors met this woman of faith, who talks to presidents, senators, governors, and street drunks about Jesus, in the parking lot directing traffic! Yes, that’s right, the leader of this ministry juggernaut was in the parking lot directing traffic and receiving guests!
That is Tillie, always serving. Yet even there she starting talking about souls who last year received gifts and this year brought gifts and how truly good God is for giving us (her and her audience of cold preachers) the Christmas Story (the story
The worst Christmas I remember, happened a couple of years ago. I had asked Tillie on that Christmas week, if she was going to have the kids and grand kids over for dinner on Christmas Day and take a well deserved rest.
"Oh no Brother James", she replied. “Everybody else will be closed tomorrow. There may be some families that need food, so we'll need to be open. We'll get something to eat later on."
Needless to say I was stunned! After all, I love ministry but I was going to be HOME and "resting" after eating my well deserved Christmas meal. Yet my mind would not leave the idea of what she planned for a BIG family Christmas and her selflessness.
The turkey I ate that Christmas was the worst tasting piece of imitation leather I ever ate! I tried to choke down a meal while remembering what she was doing.
The Sugar Hill Gang must have understood my blight when they released the song “A Rappers Delight”. They said “Have you ever been over to a friend's house to eat and the food just ain't no good? I mean the macaroni's soggy, the peas all mushed and the chicken tastes like wood?” That describes the meal I had!
I may be Bishop and I may preach all over, but on that day I wondered if I even knew the same God as Tillie. Before you start emailing me about how God wants us to rest and a defense of my right to leisure, hear my heart.
Here is a woman (older, weaker, and smaller than me) who had every reason to sit down a rest, but the HOLY GHOST in her would not let that happen. I have never heard her speak in tongues or seen her dance in the spirit, but He (The HOLY GHOST) is in there!
How can I be comfortable? How can I ignore the life around me while I "do" church? How can I pray "Lord use me" and go home a wait for another word? No, like Blackaby said in "Experiencing God"; find where God is already busy and get involved. That opens the door to hear more from God about Him using us.
When asked "How do you do all this?" Tillie is quick to respond. "Well we pray, and God shows us a need. We pray some more and he provides the resources. Then we just meet the needs he shows us. We go to an apartment complex and just try to hang around John 3:16... Then we pray and God shows us more needs..."
You get the idea. I hope your turkey tastes good! Merry Christmas!
© Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved James M. Brown
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