A Modern Day Paul in Mexico

His name is Juan Roque.  He pastors a church in Matamoros, travels frequently to evangelize Aztec Villages in the mountains of Southern Mexico, and co-leads Bread of Life Frontier Missions (BLFM), one of Brazos Pointes’ longstanding international mission partners.  And like the Apostle Paul, he has faced death and persecution many times – the most recent was last month.

I want you to know the stories of people God has allowed our church to serve alongside so you can pray for them and pray for those to whom they are bringing the Gospel.  Please read this letter from David Nuckols, our BLFM representative in Brownsville, TX.

Live Bold,

Greg

July 19, 2014

I just returned from having lunch with Pastorcito, Juan Roque.  It was our first face to face meeting since he had been taken hostage on his last trek to the Aztec villages.  There was a calm determination in his demeanor.  Just prior to the food arriving, Juan declared that he was pretty certain that this meeting with cartel members was arranged by God.  And I knew that some nuggets of wisdom were about to come my way.  He said, “Let me back up.”

Two Sunday’s before he left on that mission trip, Juan preached to the Las Palmas church that every encounter we have God is working through us to be a blessing to others or through others to bring a blessing to us.  Here ended the lesson.  Or so he thought.  Juan left that Monday in his daughter’s small car to see how it could make the trip.  The white truck was constantly getting stopped on previous trips so he decided some months ago to travel by small car to stay under the radar.  As he approached the town of Padilla on the highway, the transmission began acting up.  He called a mechanic from Matamoros to bring Arecelia’s car and switch out with.  Juan turned around and began driving north.  The mechanic from Matamoros headed south.  On his way north, Juan was motioned over by armed cartel members.  Having transmission issues, he had no choice but to pull over.  In the past, the preferred method was to put the pedal to the metal.  They put a rifle through the rolled down window and began questioning him. “Where are you from?”  When he answered that he was from Matamoros, an area controlled by a rival cartel group, they began shouting at the others to come over because they had one from Matamoros.  One of the leaders came over and in a loud, stern voice to him that this was the end of the road for him.  With his head down, Juan continued to answer the barrage of questions.  When asked what was in his glove compartment, Juan told them that he had another cell phone.  As he opened up the glove box, a new book that he had purchased in Brownsville the previous week fell out.  It was titled Saldrás de esta: Esperanza y aydua en tiempos difíciles by Max Lucado, a Spanish edition of his book title You Will Get Through This‐Hope & Help for Your Turbulent Times.

When the cartel member saw this he laughed and told Juan that he was going to kill him today.  Juan was taken out of his car and transferred into several cars that took some back roads off of the main highway.  Juan was pretty sure that this was the end of the road for him.  When he was put into the third car, a gruff leader began to question him. Juan shared that he was a pastor from Matamoros.  Juan does not recall the exact exchanged, but the man indicated the he was the one in charge of executing those taken captive.  Juan did notice that the man’s attitude toward him changed.  He shared with Juan that he never intended to be where he was doing what he was doing.  He had tried to find a good job.  He shared that he had no success in finding honest work and that he had a family to support.  The executioner shared with Juan that his mother was a member of a Pentecostal church in Monterrey.  He asked Juan if God listens to him.  Juan replied that indeed He did listen, but not only himself but to the leader as well.  After travelling down the back road for some distance, the leader told Juan that he was going to let him go home.  Juan shared that he was going‐either home to his family in Matamoros or home to Father in Heaven.  And the leader clarified, “No, you are going home to Matamoros.”  Juan shared with me that never pleaded for his life or asked to be released.  Juan was transferred to another vehicle and taken further back.  He remained in the car while one man shouted for a machete.  While another man went to get it, Juan, face downward, could see that the other guard was wrapping his rifle in what appeared to be something to muffle the sound.  And again, Juan was now certain that his life on earth was about to end.  After what must have seemed to be an eternity, the leader that said he was going to help him get back home returned and began shouting orders at the others to release Juan and put him in the leader’s car.  Juan was returned to his car that had been stopped hours earlier.

Near Juan’s car was a truckload of armed men, who by then, had gotten word that Juan was a pastor and was going to be set free.  As the leader handed Juan back the keys to his car, he also put some money in his hand‐“for expenses.”  Juan was grateful for his release and pleaded with the leader to spare the lives of the mother and child that had been stopped about the same time as he had.  As Juan drove off, he could hear the men in the back of the truck shouting, “Pray for me…pray for me.”  As Juan finished sharing with me, he looked up and smiled and said,” I am pretty sure God arranged that meeting for me so that I could be a blessing to them.”

Juan plans to return to that roadside location and post a message of God’s love for all His children….

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and pray for the Peace of Mexico.

Dios les bendiga,

David

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A Snapshot Survey – Part Four

Our survey of almost 900 BPF folks a few weeks was quite informative.  We learned

  • Nearly half our congregation were infrequent attenders before coming to BPF
  • Four out of five folks who call Brazos Pointe home now attend regularly
  • Since moving our campus out on the Brazoria Road our reach has expanded to the north, south and especially the west, with fully 20% of our fellowship driving in from West of the Brazos.
  • A majority of our attenders are married, but one is five adults here are single or single again.
  • We are extremely balanced across the age groups with no one group having a significant majority.

Now for the answer to the really big, big, big, big question you’ve been anxiously awaiting…If you could be any animal, what would you be?

We decided to answer it with a different graphic called a “Wordle.”  It takes the results and makes the size of the answers proportional to the number of responses.  The larger words – like dog, bird, eagle – represent the greater number of common answers.  We also used our cross logo to give it a unique look.

Animal Wordle

Live Bold (and enjoy the journey),

Greg

A Snapshot Survey – Part Three

Last week we saw that our reach is expanding into communities to the north, south and especially the west.  As we continue to study the results of our recent survey, let’s take a closer look at who comes to BPF each weekend.

Survey Question:

What is your Gender?

Survey-GenderThis points out a reality in most churches; women usually outnumber the men.

Survey Question:

What is your Relationship Status?

Survey-Relationship StatusOver a third of our church is single. When you take into account, however, that 16% of that group is 18 and under (see next graph), the number of single adults at BPF is closer to 20%. Still, that means one in five folks at Brazos Pointe are single or single again, a pretty significant number.

Survey Question:

What is your Age Group?

Survey-Age GroupWhen I look at this, the word that comes to mind is balance. The 18 & under and 19-25 groups are smaller, but they also represent six and seven year age spans as opposed to 10 year spans for the rest.  Also keep in mind that over 300 regular attenders at BPF were not included in this survey – our children ages birth to 12, who account for a fourth of our weekly attendance; which is about 1350 people on average.

Next week we’ll wrap this up by revealing the answers to the most intriguing question on the survey: If you could be any animal, what would you be?

Live Bold,

Greg

A Snapshot Survey – Part Two

A few weeks ago almost 900 of you participated in a Snapshot Survey.  Last week we looked at frequency of attendance before and after coming to BPF and discovered that

  • Nearly half our congregation were infrequent attenders before coming to BPF
  • Four out of five folks who call Brazos Pointe home now attend regularly

This week let’s see who comes to BPF.

Survey Question:

How long have you lived in Southern Brazoria?

Survey-How Long have You Lived in S. Brazoria County

This reflects a demographic we already knew. The population of Southern Brazoria County has remained relatively unchanged for years. That could be changing with all the industrial growth in Freeport, Sweeny and Bay City.

Survey Question:

Where do you live?

Survey-Where Do You LiveThis survey represents a significant demographic shift – in several directions.  Until we moved to our new campus on the Brazoria Road most of our congregation has been from the Lake Jackson / Clute / Richwood area; with a fair sized number of folks from West Columbia / Columbia Lakes. Now much of our growth is coming from West of the Brazos.  And the number of people who call Freeport or Angleton home is also increasing.  We’re not just growing numerically.  Our reach is also expanding into communities to the west, north and south.

Next week we’ll take a look at age and relationship status.

Live Bold,

Greg

A Snapshot Survey

A few weeks ago most of you participated in a Snapshot Survey.  There were well over 800 responses so it took a while to log them. Now we’re mining all that data to see what we can learn.  Over the coming weeks I’ll post these findings here in Pick’s Pointe.

Since our Vision for BPF is to be a Church for the Unchurched, let’s see how we’re doing with that.

Survey Question:

Before attending BPF, how frequently
did you attend church services?

Survey.How Often
As you can see, nearly half our congregation were infrequent attenders before coming to BPF. One in four almost never worshipped anywhere. It shows we really are reaching the unchurched and once churched. How’s their attendance now?

Survey Question:

How often do you attend BPF?

Survey-How often BPF
Almost one in four who attended infrequently or never before coming to BPF are now regular attenders. Nearly four out of five folks who call Brazos Pointe home attend regularly. Of course I’d like to see that percentage increase, but’s a healthy indicator now.

Next week we’ll see who comes to BPF.

Live Bold,

Greg

A Record Offering!

Sunday morning I announced our annual World Missions Offering had reached $35,000, surpassing our highest previous offering by nearly ten thousand dollars.  That record number has grown as people continue to express their gratitude to God for all He’s done for them. It now stands at $39,320!

You’ll remember that we give ALL OF IT away.  Three fourths will be sent to our primary mission partners, the International (IMB) and North American (NAMB) Mission Boards. Your gifts will support thousands of missionaries planting new churches across the country and around the world.

The remainder of your offering, nearly ten thousand dollars now, will go directly to Seattle, Washington to spur the growth of new churches in one of the most unreached corners of America.  What a great way to say thanks to God as we begin working with Seattle Church Planting, our newest mission partner.

Thanks for “Giving bold” Brazos Pointe,

Greg

An Offering of Gratitude

Sunday morning we will collect our annual World Missions Offering.  We do this each year to express our gratitude to God for all He’s done in and through us as we seek to be a church for the unchurched.  This past year God blessed us in so many ways – the move into our new home, more folks in Small Groups than ever, a budget surplus, the launch of our Galveston campus into an independent church, the commissioning of our first career missionaries, and a host of unchurched folks stepping over the line of faith.  That’s something to be thankful for.

Let’s show our gratitude with our greatest World Missions Offering ever.  Here’s what it will accomplish.  Three fourths will go to our primary missions’ partners, the International (IMB) and North American (NAMB) Mission Boards to support thousands of missionaries planting new churches around the world – like our own Kevin & Lauren Glenn serving in Southeast Asia.

The other 25% goes to a special project each year. Our 2014 designee is the Seattle Church Planting initiative, a partnership dedicated to starting new churches in one of the most unreached corners of America. The Northwest has fewer Christians per capita than some of the developing countries where we send missions teams each year.

Last Sunday I asked you to pray about what you can give to support the spread of the Gospel around the world. Last year we had 182 BPF homes give just over $22,000 to our World Missions Offering.  We have more than 600 households in our church family.  If the rest of our fellowship joined in this offering with a gift of just $25 each we could see our World Missions Offering climb to a new level of generosity.  That’s a challenge we can meet!

Give Bold,

Greg