Our Mission Statement

Tuesday, August 24

The Great Gambini

Once upon a time there was a circus that was traveling through Europe. Among its wonderful and exotic animals (lions and tigers and bears oh my!) and displays were several shows. Although the world's strongest man and the bearded lady were popular, none were as popular as the Great Gambini, the high wire extraordinaire. People came from far and wide (not sure where that is on the map but that is where they came from) to see the circus and to watch the death defying Gambini.

High above the big top (aka large circus tent) stretched the high wire and where Gambini performed. Each night crowds would pack into the seats to watch the clowns, the Human Cannonball, and other acts in order to see Gambini, the grand finale. Cotton candy, peanuts, and funnel cakes flowed freely throughout the evening as the crowd enjoyed the shows. Then, suddenly, the lights would go dim and the announcer (in his very dramatic voice) would direct every one's attention to the landing platform high above the crowd. The spotlight lit up the platform and then slowly followed the pole down to the ground where the Great Gambini was standing. With a wave to the crowd he began the climb to the top.

The crowd cheered when he reached the landing platform. With microphone in hand, Gambini addressed the crowd. "Tonight I will perform my greatest feats for you!" The crowd cheered and Gambini stepped out onto the wire with his long balancing bar. He cautiously and gingerly walked across the wire, step by step, until he reached the other side. He then took the microphone and told the crowd he would walk across the wire without his balancing bar. The crowd cheered him on s he walked across the wire confidently. He then walked across the the wire blindfolded! The crowd got more and more excited as he performed his trade.

Then he announced that he was ordering the safely net below him to be taken down and removed. The crowd fell into a quiet as the workers removed the life net. Gambini asked the crowd if they thought he could walk across the rope without the net below him. They cheered him on as he raced along the wire. The crowd cheered loudly when he reached the other side. He then took a bicycle and asked if the crowd though he could ride the bike across the wire. They again cheered loudly as he proceeded to go across the wire. The crowd was getting his best show ever!

He then pulled a wheelbarrow from the landing area and reached for the microphone. He asked the crowd, "Do you think I can push this wheelbarrow across to the other side?" The crowd cheered! "Do you think I can do it with my eyes blindfolded?" The crowd cheered even louder! "Do you think I could push this wheelbarrow across the wire blindfolded with someone in the wheelbarrow?" The crowd went crazy!!! "Who wants to be my volunteer!" The crowd hushed, to a complete silence. You could have heard a pin drop. Nobody volunteered. No one.

Why? The Great Gambini was the best high wire expert in the land. The crowd had seen his confidence, his skill, his abilities. They had watched with their own eyes as he confidently went across the wire time after time and yet no one volunteered. No one wanted to ride in that wheelbarrow 50 feet off of the ground without a safety net below. Why?

Fear? Lack of faith? You fill in the blank. but the bottom line was it was all fun, great, and exciting when Gambini was up there doing it, but it was totally different when it came time to join him. It is easy to watch the action and something totally different when you become part of the action. That is why their are stands full of people and only a few out there doing.

Want examples? Everyone wants and expects the local church building nice and clean and the grounds trimmed and proper. Everyone enjoys the comforts the building provides. But make an announcement that there will be a work day on Saturday to paint or clean or mow grass and pull weeds... see how many show up. You would think the whole Sunday morning crowd would be there to work, correct? Right. Schedule a gospel meeting. Bring in a "big gun" preacher and watch everyone get excited. Make announcements and pass out invitations and rent out the civic center. Estimate all of the Christians in the area and make sure you have plenty of seats for them and all of the friends that will be coming.... and let me know how it goes. Not very many people jumping in that wheelbarrow is there?

Go on a mission trip to Honduras. Come back filled with passion and compassion. Get excited to hear about future plans and think and dream about all of the great things that could be done. Receive an invitation to make a monthly pledge to reach those goals. Sit back and think of all of the hundreds and hundreds of people that have been on a mission trip and think about the tremendous participation and how much could be accomplished. And wait. Wait for a phone call asking for more information. Wait for a text message asking how to get involved. Wait for that email asking for the form so that they can get started. (here is where you make the assumption that the monthly auto debit campaign has started off slowly!)

Now, this is not to be a Debbie Downer article. It is actually intended to highlight the fact that there are those that show up and do the work at the church building, attend the gospel meetings, and participate in the fund drive. There will always be those that can be counted on when they are needed. Remember, there will always be "spectators" and "participants." That is human nature. I just want you to think a bit harder about being a fellow participant in something that is very important. Every year we come back from Honduras full of ideas and plans. Every year we think of all of the wonderful things that can be done. Every year we come back pumped up and filled to the brim with zeal and excitement. But all it takes is a bit of time and the settling in to our daily routines to knock the wind right out of the sails. And plans are put on hold. Or shelved. Or even forgotten.

Oh, so what happens in the story? Gambini waits patiently for a volunteer to step forward. The crowd becomes uneasy at the deafening quiet that has fallen over the big top. Then, quietly, a young teenage girl stands up and walks to the arena. The master of ceremonies walks her to the giant pole and she climbs the rungs to the top. Gambini places her in the wheelbarrow and places the blindfold over his eyes. The crowd is riveted to the scene above. And with great confidence he wheels his volunteer across the wire and to the other side! The crowd erupts in uncontrollable cheers! People are giving each other high fives and pumping their fists in the air. The real question is, who is the next volunteer? You? Something to think about...

Monday, August 9

The long and winding road

Although there are a few holdouts across the country, by in large most schools have now started their new 2010-2011 school year. Summer vacations are over and even though the scorching summer heat lingers, everyone is settling back into schedules and routines once again. For me that is a good thing since I have been running wild this summer. Having a routine will slow the pace down for me a little bit and get me back into some kind of schedule. Soccer players and short course students have returned and the dorm has activity again, including a fire alarm Sunday morning around 7:30 am. Yep, the boys are back. Peace and quiet will return again in about 9 months.

It is hard to believe it has been almost a month since we returned from Honduras. Videos and photos are still bouncing around on Facebook and team members are still yearning to be in a small country where their hearts have placed residence. I have received numerous emails about next year's plans and my mind is swirling with ideas and potential projects for next year. And, living in a university setting, potential trips during school breaks have already been mentioned. It is just amazing. I am amazed at so many things but probably one of the biggest is just realizing that I have been given the opportunity to lead teams to Honduras, Costa Rica, etc, and to be involved in something like TORCH. It is a lot to take in considering everything.

I grew up in what would have to be considered a religiously dysfunctional family. Wonderful family, just not a "go to church every Sunday" family. For me it changed because of a great family that lived right across the street from me growing up in Huntsville. The South's invited me every year to go to VBS with their boys, and they planted the seeds for me. By 8th grade Mark South and I were great friends and I was going to attend Madison Academy for high school where he went to school. From there I was molded some more and I transferred from a state school to Freed-Hardeman with a lot of my church friends from Mastin Lake Road Church of Christ. I went on some short term mission trips while I was there (thank you Paul Lewis) and I guess you could say the rest is history. Such a long journey with a lot of influences along the way. Amazing grace.

I love what I do. Even with the all of the headaches and bumps in the road that have to be endured, organizing and leading short term trips is what I love to do. And a person has to feel blessed to be able to do things that they love doing, because most people do not. And it is a shame, because life is supposed to be a journey filled with memories and challenges and adventure. I mean, Jesus DID say, "I came to give you life and to give it more abundantly (John 10:10)." I believe that with all of my heart and where your heart is that is where your treasure is going to be found (Luke 12:34). And I have a big treasure chest. Moth and rust can't touch my treasure!

So, when you find your love, your passion, you pour yourself into it. You buy into it. You take ownership in it. You share it with others. And that is what I have done for the past 20 years and what I plan on doing for as long as the earthly vessel will carry me. TORCH is my love, my passion, my ministry. And I know it is for some of you as well. Literally thousands of people in the past 20+ years has participated in a TORCH mission trip. Hundreds have been multiple times. Dozens and dozens and dozens have been multiple times. We call ourselves "Lifers." But whether you are a lifer or a 1 time rookie, we have all experienced life changing ministry. Almost everyone who has been on a TORCH trip would say that their lives will never be the same again. Amen?

So, it has come to this point in time. after 20+ years of working in Honduras, and assisting and reaching tens of thousands of Hondurans who have needed physical and spiritual help, TORCH is at a cross roads of sorts. Our teams continue to grow, our areas of ministry continue to expand. Our resources are expanding and the opportunity to serve, not only in Honduras but more and more globally, we must take a good look at ourselves, to look in a mirror as James says. What do we see? What do YOU see? Do you see a small organization, started by a couple of youth ministers and a dream, doing feel good trips to fill a summer schedule? Do you see a summer trip that offers cool experiences and a nifty stamp in your passport? Or do you see more? I see more; much much more.

We have already seen what short term TORCH trips are capable of doing. The list of projects we did this summer by our trip alone is pretty impressive. When you take a look at what ALL of the TORCH teams have done this year it is amazing and unbelievable. I hope to get an email soon from Mark and Tim that will give totals of all of the things done this year to date. Until then I will only be able to tell you that it was a LOT. And we have every plan to continue what we are doing and to crank it up a notch. For example, our mega team of 160 this year has split from 1 team into THREE. Our team alone now has 3 x's the power and resources and abilities to do what 1 team did this year. It also allow 3 teams the ability to stretch and grow again. I have witnessed this time after time. It wasn't that long ago that team leaders (Tim, Mark, Gayle, Tom, etc) were working together on the same teams.

I have said a lot to lay the groundwork for what we are about to do. Stepping it up a notch, moving to the next level. TORCH mission is growing in numbers and we need to grow accordingly with facilities and resources to match. Our buses are old and are aging very quickly (Honduran roads can do that ya know). We continue to rent facilities to house our teams. We continue to rent pick up trucks, flat bed trucks, buses, and other equipment. And just like renting a house or apartment, that rent money is going out the window and into someone else's pockets. Team leaders and board members have talked about this for years but the time has come to do something about it. Investing in the future of TORCH is at hand. The time has come to act upon things we all know to be true and logical. And we all must pitch in to make it happen.

In the next few months I will be working with the TORCH board to create a new group, a committee of people, that will dedicate some of their time, skills, resources, and energy to help raise funds to allow TORCH to move to the next level. What level are we talking about? Owning our own property. Building our own "Mission House." Buying newer buses and more of them. Buying our own trucks. Increasing our inventory of tools, chainsaws, and equipment. Hiring full time workers as bus drivers, cooks, care takers, etc. This has only been a pipe dream for us for several years, but the time has come to act upon our dreams and to make them reality. and it is going to take the TORCH community, the alumni, along with many others to make this happen.

The first phase of this concept was introduced by Jenny Lovell the last night of our trip. Jenny is a professional fund raiser for Freed-Hardeman and she raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the school each year. I have asked her to spear head this committee and to get the ball rolling. Her first idea has begun and it is time for us to start. Many of our TORCH team were given forms that will allow individuals to make monthly contributions into a special account that has been set up for TORCH. By filling out this form a person can make a monthly contribution to TORCH that will be used, hopefully in the very near future, to begin the process of doing the very things we just talked about earlier. This account is not a trip work fund, but a fund specifically set up to take us to the next level. Jenny will be contacting all TORCH team leaders to assist with this project. By doing this we hope to reach hundreds, possibly thousands of people to ask for participation in this project.

This one project alone, with the help of a TORCH army of participants, has the potential to generate enough money to pay for land and build our own facility with a FEW years. Tim and Mark have been looking at property and buildings that might be suitable for TORCH to buy. We know where to buy newer buses and trucks. Things are in place and I believe the time has come for us to launch out into a new phase of TORCH Missions. Dreams are the building blocks of tomorrow. Lets begin to build tomorrow today!

Contact me by email if you would like for me to mail (or email) you the bank automatic debit form. Once you have filled out the form you will mail the form to Lowell Haworth, who will be in charge of collecting the forms, entering the data to the bank, and keeping records of those that will be participating. Lowell's mailing address is 428 Amberleaf Trail, Westfield, Indiana, 46074-9500. That is all there is to it. Simple, eh? Just email me to get the ball rolling. Anyone can participate. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends at church, co-workers. This is a simple, but very effective way for anyone to help TORCH Missions in its continued efforts in Honduras and beyond. Are you in?

Terry Reeves
President, Torch Missions board of directors

Wednesday, August 4


Well, it is official. Torch Missions has become a 12 month a year job. Less than 3 weeks after returning home from the 2010 trip the teams are all but set for the summer 2011 trips to Honduras. Just a few years ago it was a given that things did not really start rolling until after Thanksgiving. Then it was the first of October. Last year dates were announced in mid-September. And now, August 5th. Wow, and I still have 1 suitcase left to unpack from this year's trip! Now, to be fair, not all of the team leaders have set their dates yet. However, many have and although the dates are tentative and subject to modifications, here is what we have so far for summer 2011:

June 1-15: Mark Connell / Larry Sawyer (Alabama and Kentucky)
June 1-15: Eric Connell (Oklahoma)
June TBA: Rick and Donna Grose (Ohio)
June 13-26: Gayle Davidson / Tim Hines (Florida and Louisiana)
June 24-July 4: Terry Reeves (all over the place)
July 1-11: Nathan Reeves (all over the placee)
July TBA: Mark Halbert (Mississippi)
July 15-25: Tom Beach (North and South Carolina)
July 30-August 6: Allen Burris (Indiana)

This does not include the Torch teams that Marc Tindall runs since he houses his team out in Santa Ana and does not overlap with the lodging facilities in Tegucigalpa. This also does not include the teams that go throughout the year, especially during spring break and Christmas break. It also does not include the Torch trips to Costa Rica and Recife, Brazil next year. The bottom line is that a lot of people will be doing mission work in 2011 and plans are being made to use our teams and resources as well as we possibly can. God is at work and we have been honored to be one of the conduits for His power, love, compassion, and strength to be shown to the people. Mighty is our God.

So, mark your calendars and start requesting your days off for next year. Remember, the dates are tentative, so try to be as flexible as possible. I will be posting the Costa Rica and Brazil trips VERY soon so keep checking the blog. Feel free to email me if you have any questions! I will be posting new blogs within the next few days. Stay tuned. Enjoy the last few days of summer, the new school year is about to start and 2010 will be roaring to an end before you know it. Trust me, I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.