Our Mission Statement

Tuesday, January 31


This past weekend Freed-Hardeman showed the movie "Courageous" at the campus theater. The movie packed both theaters during the 2 showings and it caused quite a buzz in my dorm afterwards. Just about everyone I saw last weekend were talking about it. And I am here to tell you it was one of the best movies I have ever seen. Not because of the acting, lighting, camera angles, special effects, stars, or computer graphics. Quite the opposite. I loved it without all of the things I just mentioned.

This film was produced by Sherwood Pictures, a ministry of the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. This is their 4th film to be released. The other 3 are Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. Those following these movies will quickly point out that each movie gets progressively better in film quality, acting, writing, and story line and Courageous is the best so far. Over half of the actors are members of the congregation and all actors are volunteers. In an era were movie film budgets can well exceed $500 million in production costs it is a breath of fresh air to see a movie with such a wholesome message being shot and produced under a reported $2 million. The movie opened in over 1.000 theaters nationwide and grossed nearly $10 mission dollars. To date the movie has grossed nearly $35 million with the DVD release just now taking place.

There is great humor throughout the movie, good action scenes, and many a Kleenex moments in the movie. Focusing on the lives of 4 police officers and their families, the movie hammers home the theme of the movie which is fathers taking up the responsibility of being a Christian father and doing everything it takes to be the man God wants us to be. It is such a powerful movie and it approaches life from so many different angles that nearly anyone can relate to it in some way. The predominately student body crowd at the theater was totally into the movie with roars of laughter and audible crying during several scenes. The movie certainly took everyone on an emotional roller coaster ride.

My favorite character by far was Javier Martinez. Anyone who saw the movie knows who he is and are probably laughing right now at just the mention of his name. My favorite funny scene was Javier riding in the back of the police car as the leader of the infamous "Snake Kings." My favorite "tear jerker" scene was when Adam Mitchell returned to the place where he completed a dance that he did not do with his daughter prior to her sudden death in a car accident. My most inspirational scene was when Nathan Hayes took his daughter out to a fancy dinner and challenged her by giving her a purity ring. Best action scene was the shootout and arrest of the drug dealers and the best line was during Adam's sermon, "I will!"

If you have not yet seen this movie you need to get a copy and pick a movie night to watch it. Be ready to laugh, cry, hold your breath, and applaud. Be ready to be challenged because this movie hits home in many different ways. You will not be disappointed and you will probably do just like me and feel the need to spread the word.


Wednesday, January 18

Up, up and away!

Even though it is only mid-January many are already searching for airline flights to Costa Rica and Honduras. Some have already bought tickets and have sent me their flight itineraries! So this blog will cover flight information for all 3 mission teams going with me this summer.

Costa Rica

The Costa Rica trip is Saturday, May 26th - Monday, June 4th. Each person or group is responsible for booking their tickets and may use a variety of carriers. The main stipulation is that everyone MUST fly into San Jose and they must arrive no later than 2:00 pm on Saturday, May 26th. There are several choices on airlines and arrival times. Since team members will be leaving from different cities around the country I cannot give you specific flight information. However, I can give you a list of carriers that do fly to San Jose and have flights that arrive before / around 2:00.

American Airlines: typically connects in Miami. From Miami AA has 2 flights, #971 and #937 that arrive before 12:30 pm.
Delta Airlines: typically connect in Atlanta. From Atlanta DA has 1 flight, #415, that arrives at 11:55 am.
Continental Airlines: typically connects in Houston. From Houston CA has 2 flights, #1096 and #1055 that arrive before 2:15 pm.
US Air: typically connects in Charlotte. From Charlotte USA has 1 flight, #1707, that arrives at 11:05 am.
Spirit Air: typically connects in Ft. Lauderdale. From Ft. Lauderdale SA has 1 flight, #755, that arrives at 11:40 am.
Copa Airlines: Departs from Miami. From Miami there is 1 flight, #491 / 795 that arrives at 11:31 am after 1 connection.
LACSA: Departs from Miami. From Miami there is 1 flight, #691, that arrives at 9:44 am
AeroMexico: typically connects in Miami. From Miami there is 1 flight, #429 / 656 that arrives at 11:20 am after 1 connection.
United Airlines: United has multiple connection points so flight information varies. from Miami there is 1 flight, #7484, that arrives at 9:44 am.

Research your flights thoroughly! Most likely you will have connections, make sure you have enough time to make the connection between flights! Also check checked bag policies... they all vary. Some allow 1 bag free, others charge for every bag. Some might even charge for carry on bags. Once you have selected a flight it is very important to let me know your flight information so that we can be prepared in San Jose. Everyone will wait at the airport until everyone arrives. Once everyone is on the ground we will load the buses, eat lunch, and drive to Beunos Aires!

Return flights work in a similar manner. Everyone will need to fly back from San Jose on Monday, June 4th (morning flights if at all possible). We will be spending the night in San Jose at a hotel near the airport. Once we have everyone's flight information we will figure out transportation to the airport. The later your flight the longer you will probably sit at the airport. The system works well and it allows our team members to shop around to find the best deals. Good luck!

Honduras trip #1

The 1st Honduras trip is Thursday, June 28th - Saturday, July 7th. It is very important that everyone arrive on the 28th because we will be loading up our buses and heading straight to Choluteca for 4 days of work there (Thursday - Sunday). We will return to Tegucigalpa Sunday evening and will work there until our departure on Saturday the 7th. It is important that your flight arrives before 2:00 pm. You have several flight options:

TACA: Departs from Miami. From Miami TACA has 1 flight that arrives before 2:00 pm. It is flight #314 / 254 that arrives at 9:25 am after 1 connection. (the other TACA flight lands in the late afternoon and cannot be used)
COPA Airlines: Departs from Miami. COPA has 1 flight, #491 / 426 that arrives at 11:55 am after 1 connection.
American Airlines: Typically connects in Miami. From Miami AA flight # 953 that arrives at 11:15 am.
Delta Airlines: Typically connects in Atlanta. from Atlanta DA flight #849 that arrives at 11:45 am.
Continental Airlines: Typically connects in Houston. From Houston CA flight #1540 which arrives at 11:10 am.

Return flight will be on Saturday, July 7th. Check flight information concerning additional charges for checked bags. Once your ticket is booked please send me your flight information so that we can be ready for your arrival in Tegucigalpa!

Honduras trip #2

The 2nd team will arrive in Tegucigalpa the same day that team #1 is leaving (this is going to be a busy and exciting day for the interns!). So as we are saying goodbye to one team we will be welcoming the 2nd team. Like the 1st team, it is very important that everyone on team #2 arrive on Saturday, July 7th. We will also be loading up the buses and heading to Choluteca to work for 4 1/2 days (Saturday - Wednesday morning). Flight information is the same as team #1. Team # 2 returns to Tegucigalpa on Wednesday afternoon and will work in Tegucigalpa until the return flight on Monday, July 16th.

You can buy your airline tickets any time you want. Prices are going to go up and down like a roller coaster so check the websites and be ready when that great deal comes. If you get a great deal let me know so I can pass the information on to other Torch team members! Flights will fill up, some very quickly, especially to Honduras. there are a lot of mission teams that work in Honduras and tickets will go quickly. Depending where you are flying from will determine cost to a large degree. Ticket prices might range from the high $400s to high $700s or even more. With fuel prices jumping around and with rumors of price hikes expect airline tickets to follow.

I hope this information is helpful and that you have good results in buying your tickets. Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck and happy shopping!


Sunday, January 8

Calculating the cost before laying the foundation

2012 is not messing around. It seems to be pedal to the metal because the new year is off and running at full throttle and leaving those who are shuffling along on the sidelines. 9 days into the new year and I am just now posting the first blog of 2012. As I merge onto the 2012 speedway lanes I will try to get quickly up to speed so that I can keep up.

Most already know, but during Christmas break I had surgery to remove a tumor that was found on a scan about 6 months ago that was growing on my neck near the saliva gland. Dr. Netherville, the top ranked surgeon in the southeast and a member of the church at Harpeth Hills, did the surgery. Dr. Netherville is a long time medical missionary to Honduras with Steve Davidson's group and Lipscomb graduate. he did a great job and my stay at Vanderbilt was a good as you could expect (Sleep just didn't happen because it seemed like every hour the nurses needed something!). After an allergic reaction to some of the bandaging they used on me, I am finally on the mend and back to "normal." During break I didn't do much since I was on pain meds and was very limited on what I could do. Thankfully I am healing well and the pathology came back negative! Now I am off to the races, so to speak, and will be putting in a lot of hours this week and next getting the 3 missions trips in order and really getting them going.

The first item of business is the upcoming January 20th "Early Bird Registration." Anyone that can get their applications, paper work, and deposits in to me by this date will save $50.00 on their trip. The cost is $800 per person plus airfare, but early bird registrations get a discount because the early registration money will help me get deposits in earlier at some hotels which will allow us to get a better rate for this summer. Last year's teams depleted the Torch account to the point that we just didn't have any "jump start" money for the 2012 trips. So, whether you are going to Costa Rica or Honduras, let me encourage you to get your stuff tome in the next 10 days to get the discount.

Second. For those who just can't make the January 20th date, deposits and applications are due no later than March 1st. All of the trips are near maximum capacity so anyone who contacts me at this point will more than likely go on a waiting list. After March 1st anyone on the waiting list will be able to get on the trip if any spots are open so make sure you get your stuff in by this deadline so that you do not lose your spot! Final payment for the Costa Rica trip will be May 1st and the deadline for the Honduras trips will be June 1st. Everyone needs to book airline tickets as quickly as you can, try to have them booked by the end of March if possible. I will be posting airline flight information in my next blog that will come later this week.

Third. I have been gathering photos from past trips to help me get ready for some writing I will be doing this fall. A few years ago I wrote a book called "The Mountaintop Experience" looking through the history of Torch Missions from my 20+ years of trips. I want to totally rewrite the book and update the material. I am looking for photos from the different trips that will help in this undertaking. If you have any I would love to get copies of them sent to me. So far I have received over 400 photos and they have been great! However, I am wanting a lot more than that and I hope to get many more.

Fourth. Also, along with the photos I am receiving, I am wanting to get current photos of all the trips this summer. I would also like to get video as well, so if anyone has a video camera I would love for you to bring it. Since working at Freed-Hardeman I have learned that I have a wealth of talent and resources right here. From professional photo editing software to TV studio production facilities, proof readers to professional voice makeover personnel, I have a lot of resources here to use. This summer, once we get back, I am going to work on several PR type projects for Torch Missions. Pamphlets, brochures, booklets, and DVDs are just a few of the things on the agenda. I hope to produce a full line of promotional materials for booths at youth rallies and Bible lectureships. The materials will be designed to be used at schools, churches, youth groups, or even professional organizations to help promote who we are, what we do, and how people can join up or help. I am really excited about this and believe we will be able to produce some really high quality, professionally make materials that all teams will be able to use.

Finally. Plans are being put into place. Research is going on right now to see what needs to be done and where we will be working during our trips. This time of the year reminds me of a story Jesus told in Luke 14: 28-30 - "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to finish it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, 'This person began to build and wasn't able to finish." Now is the time we estimate the cost of the trips and the projects that we want to do and accomplish. We want to make sure the things we plan can be paid for by the money we are paying to go on the trip along with the additional money that is raised for the work fund. Our planning right now along with the fund raising we do, will determine how many houses we will build, how many bags of food we will give away, and how much supplies we will have to distribute. We don't want to make plans that we will not be able to do. But we want to think big and dream big. Somehow during the next couple of months the 2 will merge together to form our plans.

In the end we put it all in God's hands and we will do what He wants us to do and we will go where He wants us to go. God constantly puts things into our lives to challenge us and to move us to do good works. Every year is different (ask any of the Torch veterans, they will tell you!) and I personally can't wait to see what this summer has in store for us! Arise!