Month: August 2016

Drivers hear the gospel, receive ministry at truck stop chapel

With more than 3 million truck drivers in the U.S., reaching them with the gospel is like hitting a moving target. But forced by either the laws of man or the call of nature, truck drivers have to stop sometime. Those who stop at the Pilot Flying J truck stop in New Caney will meet Don DeSimone, who is quick with a “Hi! How are you? It’s good to see you.”

Just by his presence every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at the Pilot Flying J truck stop at US Hwy 59 and Hwy 242, DeSimone begins the conversations that lead to discussions of eternal significance. Those opportunities have multiplied in the two years The Church at 242 has partnered with Transport for Christ International, a ministry reaching truckers in North America, Russia, Zambia and Brazil with the gospel.

Established in 1951 TFC was as mobile as the people it sought to reach. A converted tractor trailer served as a chapel and truck stops became temporary way stations. Sixty-five years later, TFC has chaplains and permanent chapels at truck stops in 45 U.S. states and around the world.

One of the newest chapels will be delivered in September to the Pilot Flying J truck stop, where it will blend in with the 150-170 tractor-trailers parked in the back lot each night. The Pennsylvania-based ministry transforms a tractor trailer into a meeting space that will seat about 20 people. The New Caney unit will be the first with central air conditioning and heating.

For The Church at 242, the permanent chapel is an answer to years of prayer and a means for advancing the two-year old ministry that has seen at least three people come to faith in Christ. The truck stop’s media room currently serves as a chapel for Sunday morning services.

About 20 years ago, Dennis Parish, pastor of The Church at 242, watched the truck stop being built and prayed God would establish a ministry for the sojourners who stop there. Unbeknownst to him, DeSimone, a retired air freight sales representative owner and member of the church, felt called to minister to the trucking community.

They said the Holy Spirit led them, along with Parish’s son, David, minister of music at Magnolia Baptist Church, to partner with TFC. The creation of TFC@242 marks the first time a church—Parish’s congregation—has partnered with the ministry. The church and a growing network of like-minded churches and individuals took on the challenge of raising the $20,000 necessary to build, transport and set up the chapel.

Once in place, a chaplain will be on duty 24/7 and the chapel will never close.

The ease with which they gained access to the location only confirmed their calling. David Peake, Pilot Flying J general manager, recognized the venture as a win-win situation. As a Christian he heartily welcomed the opportunity to offer Christian ministry to the drivers. As a business manager he recognized the benefit of partnering with an organization that had a vested interest in the safety and well-being of his customers.

Hoping to expedite the weeks-long process of gaining corporate approval for the establishment of an on-site TFC ministry and chapel, Peake wrote to corporate headquarters asking for approval. Within 24 hours it was granted.

From this way station on US 59—a major trucking highway connecting Mexico and Canada—the TFC@242 chaplains have met people from 42 states and five countries.

The TFC mission statement—“Leading truck drivers as well as the trucking community to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith”—is exemplified by the chaplains. Walking through the snack foods aisles and the laundry and shower facilities, DeSimone greets employees by name. He knows their stories. They know he cares. A friend of one of the employees is on the verge of making a profession of faith, he said.

He’s ministered to a variety of people, including a trucker crushed by his infidelity to his wife; a husband and wife whose truck is their livelihood and, sometimes, the source of their marital struggles; and a driver from Buffalo, NY, who feared losing his relationship with his 16-year-old son.

DeSimone prayed with them all and encouraged them with a word from God. He remains in contact—a  key element of the TFC ministry.

The world is stopping at the Pilot Flying J truck stop in New Caney and a growing list of chaplains have enlisted to minister to them. Even as this way station is being equipped for gospel ministry, the TFC@242 ministry team plans to locate four more chapels across the state.

“This is their oasis,” Dennis Parish said. “They’re hungry, tired.”

Faith in Christ, the chaplains said, gives the truckers hope for the road ahead. 

Hispanic women”s conference encourages legacy of faith

RICHARDSON, Texas—The 11th annual Hispanic Christian Women’s Conference was held at the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson on July 29-30, with an attendance of more than 675 ladies. The theme for this year’s conference was “Leaving a Legacy of Faith.”

The ladies were led in song by Nidia Quintanilla, praise and worship leader of Baptist Temple in McAllen, and encouraged in the Word by international speakers Elizabeth Marquez, Lizzie Marquez, and Christian counselor and author Zoricelis Dávila. Breakout sessions were also available that dealt with loving and hearing God; creating, embracing and passing down your legacy; and how to love and teach the word.

Since its inception the women’s conference has always aimed to provide solid biblical teaching that not only challenges but also provides practical teaching methods that can be used to impact a woman’s personal life, family, church and community. This year marked the last statewide women’s conference weekend, as next year it will transition into three regional one-day conferences in Dallas, Longview and Houston. Each of these conferences will continue to focus on developing leaders, strengthening women’s ministries and challenging them with solid biblical teaching.

For more information on SBTC’s Hispanic ministries and events, visit their website.

Dale Dozier, West Texas pastor, dies

ABILENE—Dale Dozier, a pastor for 55 years serving mainly in West Texas, died Aug. 1 in Abilene. He was 90.

Born in Dickens, Texas, Dozier attended Decatur Baptist College and Texas Wesleyan College and was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Dozier “ministered on 18 foreign crusades and was an associational missionary in Indiana,” according to his obituary.

Dozier married June Payne in 1950 in Seagraves, Texas. In addition to his wife, Dozier is survived by their children Danny and Lou Dozier of Abilene, Wayne and Rhonda Ausk of West Lafayette, Ind., Julie Dozier of San Antonio, and James and Tammy Dozier of Mooresville, Ind., as well as eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and 13 step-great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Aug. 5 at Potosi Baptist Church in Abilene with burial at Gaines County Cemetery in Seagraves.

Couple leads church in reaching Muslim neighbors

Five years ago, Grant and Kimberly Goodrich were content serving the local church through youth and children’s ministry, but while participating in an apartment ministry, the couple’s eyes were opened to a people group in their own backyard in desperate need of the gospel. 

“We found out we had a large group of Somali refugees that were living in our apartment complex and in the apartment complex next door, probably about 30 families. We didn’t know anything. We didn’t know anything about culture, worldview, traditions, Islam, nothing,” Kimberly said. 

Though the couple had no background working with Muslims, God soon burdened their hearts for their neighbors, and they saw that the need was greater than they ever realized. 

Grant and Kimberly began learning from a church planter with the North American Mission Board, who helped the couple understand and practice how to share their faith with their Muslim neighbors. While making weekly home visits to apartment units in their complex, the Goodriches soon met hundreds of Muslims from all over the world. 

Two short-term trips overseas followed, offering Grant and Kimberly a chance to be immersed in Islamic culture and further softening their hearts for Muslim people. The Goodriches committed their lives to reaching Muslims with the good news of Jesus.

“Everyone has a place in this. … No one is exempt.

—Grant Goodrich

Though they were burdened for the millions of unreached Muslims overseas, Grant and Kimberly saw how God also was bringing the unreached to their own community in Texas, so in 2013 the Goodriches began attending MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, where they began a Muslim outreach program.

Irving is home to thousands of Muslims, Grant said. But despite growing numbers of Muslims, the Goodriches said many in their congregation had never before interacted with someone of the Islamic faith. 

Early in their ministry at MacArthur, Grant and Kimberly learned that Muslim ministry would be a long-term investment. For Muslim hearts to change, the hearts of church members would first have to change, including laying aside any misconceptions or stigmas about Muslims.

“If there’s no transformation of hearts, they will never truly get behind it. They may agree that the church is to pray when we’re called upon in church to pray for (Muslims), but for it to extend to something we’re regularly doing there has to be consistency,” Grant said. 

Their ministry began with only a few church members committing to pray alongside them. They now lead a group of MacArthur church members on a prayer walk around their community twice a month and are seeing God change hearts through the simple act of praying together for their Muslim neighbors.

“Different people have come, and the amazing thing is even though their heart might be still hard toward the Muslim people group, … it has been so powerful to watch as we’re standing there praying together, the Holy Spirit transform people’s hearts, even in the middle of their prayers,” Grant said. 

Grant and Kimberly also lead seven-week training sessions for church members who want to learn more about how to effectively engage their Muslim friends, neighbors and coworkers with the gospel. They host weekly roundtable discussions to help answer questions Christians have when faced with opposition to the gospel by their Muslim friends. 

No matter what steps individuals take, Grant said his desire is that everyone in the church would do something, would take some step toward loving their Muslim neighbors.

“Everyone has a place in this. That’s what we want to communicate. No one is exempt. Not everyone has to be called to do this for their life, … but if they can be lead in their hearts to at least pray, at least be willing to consider these people in Christ,” he said. 

MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church pastor Josh Smith said Grant and Kimberly have been an “invaluable gift” to the church and have equipped the congregation with three major tools—awareness, engagement and training. Prior to the Goodriches arrival, Smith said the congregation had no established ministry geared toward engaging and reaching Muslims in the Irving area. 

“They’ve helped take away, I think, some of the fear I know a lot of people have about Muslim people,” Smith said. “People now, particularly in the metroplex, live around Muslim people but don’t have a clue anything about them, don’t get to know them. One of the things I appreciate about Kimberly and Grant is their consistent goal to say, ‘Go get to know a Muslim person.’”

Smith said reaching Muslims in their community is the “God-given assignment” of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church. Currently, an Islamic mosque is being built less than one mile from the church building, serving as a fresh reminder that now, more than ever, Christians in their church need to rise up and engage the thousands of Muslims who share their community. 

“We’re not just trying to be a multi-ethnic church. We’re trying to be a church that reflects our community, and our community is one of the most diverse zip codes in America, so we don’t have an option. If we’re going to achieve our God-given assignment and reach our community, we’ve got to figure out how to reach Muslim people,” Smith said. 

One of the Goodriches’ long-term goals is to have the mosque leaders and attendees know MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church by name and to know its members by the love they show. 

That goal is being accomplished on a smaller scale as believers begin on a personal level, by intentionally seeking relationships with the Muslim people in their own lives, and by investing time into those relationships. Grant said this most often looks like an individual or couple from the church inviting a Muslim friend or couple into their homes to share a meal and get to know one another. 

“Gospel conversations flourish in a setting of security and safety, and that’s usually in a home. What we’ve found is there are so many misconceptions, so many wrong ideas about what Christians stand for, what we believe and what is the gospel,” he said. “To have that opportunity to clarify and begin to introduce the gospel or stories from the Bible and what we stand for, it really happens on a one-on-one level in a home where they can trust.”

As they help lead the MacArthur congregation in obedience to the Great Commission, Grant and Kimberly also continue to learn more and more about what it looks like to accomplish this goal among Muslims. 

“What we’ve learned the most is to be patient, loving people and seeing them as a person and a friend and not a project. In church ministry we talk a lot of programs. Everything is program-based. Muslim ministry has no program,” Kimberly said.  

Though the couple strongly supports international mission work, the Goodriches believe God is providing unique opportunities for the gospel to reach the nations from right here in Texas, and they are committed to remaining here to be part of that work, in hopes of raising up a future generation of believers who will love and share Christ with their Muslim neighbors.

“We’re the first generation of the church that’s having to deal with this changing look of America, the change of Texas, but the youth right now are going to grow up and never know life without children of all these other cultures and faith backgrounds in their classrooms at school,” Kimberly said.

“So we have to be raising up our children and our youth in a church that stands upon the gospel and that loves other people. That’s the only way, long-term, beyond any of us, for this to be successful.” 

Jacksonville College gets facelift

JACKSONVILLE, Texas—With the help of more than 300 volunteers, Jacksonville College underwent a facelift across campus this summer. Renovation projects included work on Buckner Chapel, student housing, the science lab, the cafeteria and numerous other campus updates, as well as new construction projects.

Churches, alumni, and volunteer groups like The Master’s Builders worked throughout the summer on renovations. The Master’s Builders are a group of retired men and their wives who volunteer their time and talents to churches and agencies affiliated with the Baptist Missionary Association of America. They came in their RV’s and used their own tools while they worked.

“God has blessed us with such an incredible participation in our summer plan to prepare our campus for the upcoming school year,” said Jacksonville College President Mike Smith. “Our enrollment continues to increase, we bought another house across from the college, and we transformed the lobby of Memorial Hall (men’s residence hall) into a suite to accommodate more students. Our student housing is maxed out, and we will break our record for housing students on campus. This is a good problem, but we could certainly use another residence hall to accommodate the students who want to attend the only Christian junior college in Texas.”

Jacksonville College is owned and operated by the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas, and has been affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention since 2004. For more information, visit

Criswell education degree approved by TEA, SACS

DALLAS—Criswell College’s new Bachelor of Science in Education degree was approved by the Texas Education Agency State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) this summer and more recently by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Created to train students who desire to teach early childhood through 6th grade in both public and private schools, the 129-hour program is unique in its requirement that each student take 42 hours of theology and biblical studies in order to earn their degree.

Although Criswell has long been known as a school that prepares men and women for vocational ministry, the addition of the education degree is in line with W.A. Criswell’s original vision to provide a biblical education for laypeople who would work outside the church.

Professor Vickie Brown came to Criswell in 2014 to develop and direct the education program, and she presented the proposal and supporting documentation to SBEC in June. The program was approved unanimously.

According to Brown, the program is designed to create virtuous teachers who are capable of bringing wisdom and excellence into the classroom, with the long-term goal of engaging young minds and transforming the culture of the education system.

“Teachers are stealth missionaries,” Brown said. “We get to be sent out into our mission field: the American school system.”

Brown hopes that exposing students to these classes will help clear up misconceptions about having an active life of faith within the sphere of public education.

“Training future leaders is at the core of the mission and vision of Criswell College,” she said. “We believe that infusing the lives of our pre-service teachers with a foundation of truth, through a biblical core, produces individuals with the character and virtue that is an essential requirement for anyone who desires to teach future generations.”

Students who graduate from the program will be certified to teach Kindergarten through 6th grade at both public and private schools in Texas. Fall classes at Criswell College begin Aug. 15.