February 6-14, 2010 was a nine-day trip to south Texas and Northern Mexico in which I was able to re-connect with my cousin, Roger Tomlinson and his ministry (Dayspring Outreach) and my brother Marty Bogart and his family. I flew to Mc Allen, Texas, where my cousin picked me up and took me to his US base in Edinburg, Texas. After spending a couple of nights, Roger and I, along with Roger’s wife Carolyn, packed up and drove the four hour trip into Mexico, where Dayspring has a center at La Haciendita, Nuevo Leon. Since I was in training for a 10K race the next month, I spend nearly every morning running along the roads of the orange orchard surrounding the Dayspring property (I had done the same in Edinburg during the couple of days we spent there before entering Mexico).
During the next five days, I met the 2010 students at the Dayspring Center where I was a guest teacher. This session I taught a quick overview of Church History. There was plenty of time to interact with the students and staff. The visit included a trip for Roger and Carolyn and I into Cadereyta for what are affectionately referred to as “sliders”—probably the best street tacos I have ever eaten.
We drove out of Mexico at week’s end and connected for the weekend with my brother Marty, his wife Circe and girls Circe and Audrey. One of the main events in this segment of the trip was Marty’s ceremony of dedication of his new office building owned by himself and his partner Bill Hudson. I enjoyed talking with Circe’s father Jorge Zarinana, who was visiting from Queretaro. Then it was back home to Fresno to resume ministry and family life there.
My JARON colleague, Kenton Rahn, and I arrived in Tehuacan on Friday, January 8 in the late afternoon after a 1:05 am departure time from Fresno. Tehuacan is a city of around 250,000 people in the southern part of the Mexican state of Puebla, located about four hours southeast of Mexico City or about an hour and a half southwest of the state capitol of Puebla. As you may remember, I have done ministry in this place with these people several times before.
Tired doesn’t describe how we felt after two flights (Fresno/Guadalajara and Guadalajara/Mexico City) then a bus ride to Puebla and a ride by car with friends to Tehuacan. While in Puebla, we were able to make a brief visit to a main hospital there where Betty Harris Lagunes is hospitalized with cancer. She is one of the key people on this end in instigating this JARON Bible Institute extension. It was very good for us to see her and to visit with her family.
Saturday was a settling-in and relaxing day for the most part. Even so, Kenton and I, along with Gil Hernandez, a former missionary in this city and one of our translator/interpreters, made a visit to a local radio station in order to announce the Institute classes for the next two weeks. We also had a counseling session with one of the students about some family issues he is working through. But, all-in-all, it was a day of recovery from the rigors of travel. In the evening we were part of a group, which went out for “tacos arabes” at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant very near the picturesque city square. It was a nice outing and time to be with good friends.
Most Mexican towns of any size have such a town center, or Zocalo, with the main Catholic church on one side, the city offices on another and shops of various types on the other two. Lots of people frequent the park which is in the middle and sometimes there are sellers of various food items such as tacos, churros, candies and ice cream, along with balloons and other trinkets for the kids. Once in awhile there is even music. It is kind of like a perpetual carnival—which is part of what gives Mexico its charm.
It was very cold while we were there: probably in the upper 40s or lower 50s–an unusual thing for that far south in Mexico. I am guessing that the outside temperatures were comparable to Fresno in January and it rained off and on. The problem is that almost no one has any heating system there since they would rarely use it. So, we were cold almost all the time. For example, one morning, I got up early to take a shower and waited maybe 15 minutes while the hot water tap was running for the water to warm up. It never did because the family we are staying with ran out of propane, so I took a very cold partial shower. However, I was really no worse for the experience.
After a rocky start, my Spanish rose to the occasion and even improved. I can usually converse at a very modest level with folks, which is nice since I don’t have to have an interpreter trailing me all the time. The food was delicious and, in some ways, very different from what many Americans would expect. Yes, we had tacos, but they were certainly not like Taco Bell. The tortillas are soft and the meat is either beef or pork with delicious condiments. Other dishes included lentil stew with large semi-sweet bananas (plantains) in it; a pounded chicken breast with a marvelous sauce over it, homemade cream of mushroom soup, and of course, the best fresh tortillas in the world. Locals boast that Tehuacan and its sister city, Coapan, are indeed the tortilla capitols of the world since experts claim that corn has been growing here longer than any other place on earth.
Sunday was a very full day. The morning began with a 15-minute drive to Coapan, where I preached a gospel message from Psalm 112. We broadcast the message from a loudspeaker located near the town center and the locals tell me that hundreds of people can hear what is said. On the drive back, we stopped off to visit and pray with a woman who is part of the translation team and who had surgery the day before. Then I was invited to speak at a church called Manada Pequena (Little Flock) on transformation from the life of Jacob in Genesis 31 and 32.
Monday we began the most recent series of JARON extension classes, including:
Church History—try covering 2,000 years of Christian history in five two-hour sessions through translation. Kenton and I taught identical sessions of each day’s material twice: first from 6:30-8:30 am in one church and then again from 7:30 to 9:30 pm in another location. I had been wondering whether the initial enthusiasm for this type of rigorous training would eventually subside, but so far it hasn’t. During the five days of teaching there were an average of more than 100 students spread out over the two daily sessions. Even though each day included the teaching sessions in the early morning and late evening, plus counseling, jail ministry and invitations to people’s homes— our health stayed good throughout. Thanks, Lord!
The next week our colleague, Gene Beck arrived with Wes Janca to teach five days on biblical anthropology (the study of human nature from the scriptures). The beauty of all this is that it is a group effort, including the team of Mexican believers who make this ministry possible and who carry it on all year round.
Some exciting things include the fact that our friend Enrique is using some of our JARON class materials in the jail each week to teach the prisoners theology. He reports that they are learning and looking forward to each lesson. Another student, Jose, has started a radio program in which some of what he is learning at the JBI extension is being passed on to the listeners. Others are taking what they are learning to the surrounding villages and towns to teach in churches and ministry centers throughout the region. These types of things assure us that what we are doing twice yearly in Tehuacan is worthwhile.
I need to say a word about the fabled Mexican hospitality. We were housed and fed by an amazing team of local believers. Over and over we were told by those who hosted us in their homes or for a meal that it was their pleasure to do so. If we mentioned anything that could be construed as a need, it was done without hesitation (which reminded us to be careful in mentioning anything casually for fear that it might be understood as a request). Maybe the best way to express my personal experience is to describe the contrast between our treatment going through security in Mexico, versus treatment upon our return to the United States. The entire tenor of addressing people in Mexico tends to be much more respectful. For example, the security official who inspected my luggage at the Mexico City airport and frisked me down did so with apologetic comments and great courtesy.
However, upon our arrival at LAX on the evening of January 16, we were spoken to very curtly on several occasions, the procedure for moving to where we needed to go was confusing and communicated in a way which I thought was unnecessarily rude. Even the restaurant personnel at the airport were apathetic and offered very poor customer service. I realize that this is LAX and that the security (and the nerves of people) are very tight these days. Yet I maintain that Americans are fast forgetting what they once knew about hospitality and courtesy. Mexico is still a wealthy country when it comes to such things.
Thanks for your prayers during the time we were there. Not once did we feel endangered in any way and we sensed the hand of the Lord upon us daily.
April, 15, 2009 Dear friends,
This has been a very full spring so far. I am involved in my two half-time ministry positions (Director of the JARON Bible Institute and Associate Pastor at Campus Bible Church of Fresno, California). Beyond these responsiblities I will have taught five college and university courses by the time June 1 rolls around. So you can see that it was a nice break (and a very fulfilling experience) to interrupt the schedule and travel to Texas and northern Mexico to engage in a week of intensive ministry (March 6-15) with my cousin, Roger Tomlinson of Dayspring Outreach.
One of the personal benefits of this trip is the chance to take an extra couple of days and visit my brother, Marty Bogart and his family in south Texas. Marty, Roger and I usually spend time catching up and reminiscing about our childhood days in the 60s. For us, at least, it is a lot of fun.
On Sunday, Roger and his wife Carolyn and I drove across the border into Mexico, crossing a narrow arm of the state of Tamaulipas and pushing on into Nuevo Leon. Our destination is the village of La Haciendita, about ten miles outside Cadereyta, which in turn is 20 miles or so from the third-largest city in the country: Monterrey.
With all of the news about drug-related killings along the Mexican border, we were extra-watchful on our journey. The only signs of tension we saw during this week were beefed-up checkpoints of the Mexican Army along the route. This time about half of the soldiers were wearing ski masks to hide their identities against possible reprisals by the bad guys. It was a bit sobering, but as far as we were concerned, perfectly routine.
The week of teaching began on Monday with classes in apologetics for the mixed class of about 15 Mexicans and Americans. Apologetics is the reasoned defense and explanation of the Christian faith in response to various questions and attacks. I had to brush a bit of dust off my notes from the last time I taught this course at JARON BIble Institute and then reformat them in the weeks before the trip. It was a pleasure to review this information and interact with the students –all of whom are very bright and eager to learn. I became friends with nearly all of them.
The Americans come mostly from widely-scattered parts of the Midwest. Likewise, the Mexicans are from several different regions of that country. Though they come from diverse backgrounds, they all share the passion for ministry in the unchurched cities, villages and rural areas of Mexico. It was my privilege to take part in their training.
Dayspring Outreach has several facilities in the country–two in Nuevo Leon, one in Oaxaca and one in Vera Cruz— and there may also be others I am unaware of (For more informatiuon on Dayspring, check out the link on the homepage of this website). I was very impressed by the work Roger has been doing these past twenty years or so. He is obviously very committed to the spread of the gospel in Mexico and shows a high degree of innovative ability and persistence to accomplish what he has.
After the return to yet another Dayspring base, this time in south Texas, my brother Marty scheduled a venue at his office for me to present a basic seminar on the background, teachings and goals of Islam. I developed this workshop out of my 17 years of teaching courses in world religion as an adjunct professor in various colleges and universities in central California. I have enjoyed presenting it dozens of times in a variety of formats and venues–sometimes presenting the basic facts of the subject and other times contrasting it with Christian faith.
This gathering turned out to be rather small–only a few of us around a conference table in my brother’s accounting office, but I found the more informal setting very refreshing. The next day, Marty dropped my off at the local airport and I flew home through Dallas to resume my spring schedule.
Let me describe one incident that really stuck out during that week of ministry. Imagine wanting to call your family from a rural area in a foreign country a couple of thousand miles away from home. So, after dinner, one evening I borrow one of Roger’s cell phones and take a stroll . It is dark and chilly and the rain is coming down in a fine mist. With flashlight in hand, I climb to the unfinished top floor of a small apartment block being built in the Dayspring compound for the permanent staff. No roof or walls have gone up yet on this upper storey, so I stand there savoring the damp darkness in this far-away corner of the world. I dial the access code for the US and then my home number. The call goes through and I am talking to Melinda as clearly as if I were next door. Then the signal is lost for a moment, so I dial again, this time standing in a different corner of the roof-top where the signal is stronger. The conversation continues, this time with no interruptions. After checking in and sharing about my day, I sign off, climb down and head for my room to prepare for the next day’s classes.
I know that in the Twenty-first Century, calling someone long distance sounds pretty normal. At home, I use a cell phone regularly to call all sorts of people. Yet it struck me, standing in the rain on that dark roof in rural Mexico, how interconnected the world has become and how relatively convenient it is to do business or missions work almost anywhere on the face of the globe. It is truly a pleasure to serve Jesus Christ and his coming kingdom in these very interesting times of ours.
Thanks for listening,
Let me give you a quick report on our recent missions project in Haiti, March 18-28, 2005. Our team of seven (Mike, Melinda and Dan Bogart, our daughter Andrea Cole, Patrick Mitchell, Glenda Farrer, Carl Camp) arrived in Port au Prince on Saturday. The weather throughout our time there was hot and humid.
It was startling, and yet reassuring, to see U.N. troops in full battle gear in various places throughout the country during our time there. Upon arrival, the team met our missionary hosts, Robert and Jean Vilmenay of Mission to the Americas, and prepared for the week.
Monday through Wednesday the team worked at the Center for Integrated Development (in Delmas) featuring various training sessions, designed to equip Haitians to do ministry more effectively. All of this had to be translated into French and Kreyol. The rest of the time we spent visiting local pastors and assisting the full time missionaries. So, what did we accomplish?
We brought much-needed items for Haitian leaders to use in ministry (two full computer / printer sets, medical supplies, used eye-glasses, which the people appreciated very much).
We brought greetings and encouragement to three Haitian congregations (Victoire, Amitie, Cabaret).
We encouraged pastors to continue the ministry under difficult circumstances.
We trained 30-40 Haitian church leaders in various practical issues.
The use of the Wordless Book materials for children.
A missions seminar aimed at mobilizing Haitians to go where others cannot.
We addressed various issues related to women in ministry.
We taught the use of computers in music ministry.
We instructed leaders in the use of various types of games as a ministry tool.
We trained and exposed Americans to cross-cultural ministry.
We encouraged and supplied the missionaries.
We brought the Body of Christ together a bit more.
It was touching that many of the Haitian leaders we had known from our trip in 2003 were so appreciative that we had returned. It means a lot to them because their impression is that few people want to come to Haiti at all, let alone return—and you helped make that happen. Thanks for your prayers and support. Be encouraged!
Mike and Melinda Bogart
July 1, 2003.
It is with fullness of heart that we write to report on our first short-term missions project under JARON Ministries. We believe that our trip as a couple to Haiti accomplished more than we dared hope for. We honestly don’t know how to be brief in summarizing what was accomplished, so please be patient as we try to boil it all down:
Haiti: May 14-24, 2003.
May 15-17: We were the featured speakers at a pastors and pastors’ wives retreat, in the Port au Prince suburb of Delmas. Mike’s subject was Purity in Ministry. These men had not looked at biblical teaching on the subject of sexual purity in this type of package before and responded very well. Melinda taught a women in ministry workshop, in which she led a Bible study centered around the challenges, joys and issues related to pastoral families and ministry within the local church. Approximately ten pastoral couples were involved.
May 18-20. Mike was priviledged to be the guest preacher on Sunday at Amitie Christian Church of Delmas. The text was Acts 1:8 “The Local Church and World Missions.” The following Monday through Wednesday: he taught a Bible Survey mini-course for pastors and Christian leaders at the Center for Integrated Development in Delmas. The class averaged about 25 students over three nights.
May 21-23. Mike presented the same Bible Survey mini-course for the leaders of a recently established church in Petit Goave, 40 miles southwest of Port au Prince. Class size averaged around 20 and provided training for the leadership of this church which has the potential of being a very effective witness in this rural area.
As always, the seminars and workshops served as springboards into other related issues and a chance to connect with dear fellow servants of the Lord for encouragement, fellowship and mentoring.
Our goal is to work with local groups who will be able to follow up and expand on ministry after we are gone. Our hosts were Robert and Jean Vilmenay of Mission to the Americas, and Gillomettre Herode of the Center for Integrated Development. We have a standing invitation to return to continue ministry through these organizations in years to come.
1) Enjoying the very tasty Haitian cuisine, such as delicious fruit, spicy chicken and papitas (fried plantain chips).
2) Trapping a huge tarantula in the “wee” hours of the morning on a trip to the restroom.
3) People and tap-taps (like taxis) everywhere on the streets from early morning until late night. Haitian driving is not for the faint of heart!
4) The poverty and yet general cheerfulness of most of the people we met, along with the serious commitment of the Christian leadership we worked with.
5) The experience of being 50 yards ahead of President Aristide’s motorcade with helicopters zooming overhead, while he was stuck in traffic on Delmas Route 1. The Haitians were not particularly concerned about getting out of his way.
6) Melinda’s dugout canoe ride to a beach near Petit Goave, skimming over coral reefs, but unable to lean out to really see them for fear of the canoe tipping over.
7) The chance to get better acquainted with our friends, the Vilmenays, and hopefully encourage them as they continue ministry in that needy country.
Thanks for praying, Mike and Melinda Bogart
USA Christians make a real difference
Teams of Christian volunteers of different denominations – many of them young people – are making a meaningful difference to the South African rural communities they are working in, under the auspices of Jaron Ministries International of Fresno, California.
JARON Ministries, International of the United States sends four such teams a year and The Vessel was fortunate to be able to conduct an interview with a group of eight of these visitors when they passed through Pretoria on their way to Giyani in the Northern Province. Another 20 of their group were to have arrived a couple of days later from the USA.
They spent about a week networking with various projects in and around Pretoria, including the Wolmer Community Project and a project at Soshanguve and were hosted during that time by the energetic André Bronkhorst, a well-known organiser of Christian youth camps for Eksderde.
Pastor Michael Bogart, Director of the Jaron Bible Institute, explained that a Shangaan Tribal Chief had donated 30 hectares of land at Giyani for the development of a youth camp some five years ago and that it was to this on-going project to which his group was headed.
He noted that Jaron was also involved in another youth camp development at Cape Town.
“We are not only here to contribute our assistance, we are also here to learn and to see first-hand what is happening in South Africa. It was a real eye-opener to visit Soshanguve, where we never felt threatened at any time, despite warnings to the contrary,” he explained.
Pastor Bogart added that it was nice to see Afrikaans people working hand-in-hand with their Black Christian counterparts, which, for the group, had shattered many myths about Afrikaners which had been fed to them over many years by the USA media.
During his visit here he would also be involved in the training of pastors.
Dr Bruce Van Benschoten, a General Surgeon attached to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, stated that he had come along to determine the medical needs of the visited communities and what sort of assistance could be extended.
Another one of the group, the vibrant Christi Orr, a student, said that she was looking forward to helping to establish a food garden at the Giyani project, which would help supplement the nutritional needs of that rural community.
She said that they would be visiting schools to encourage the youth to complete their high school education and to be diligent in their studies. She was also expecting to help fence off the property and generally share her love of Jesus Christ with people.
“It is very encouraging to meet other believers who are so like me. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ,” was her spontaneous response in concluding the interview.
The group of USA visits with André Bronkhorst of Eksderde (seated, far left) and The Vessel Editor, Ciska de Beer (standing, far right).
Welcome to Michael Bogart Ministries! Our goal is to facilitate your understanding, faith and ministry through the various issues we address and resources we offer.
For those who may desire more information on where this site is coming from, Mike’s qualifications include:
• Bachelor of Science from Northern Arizona University
• Master of Arts from Denver Seminary
• Studies in Classical Greek and Biblical Hebrew
• Mike has been in Christian ministry since 1974 and has been a pastor since 1984. His pastoral experience includes a long-term solo-pastorate as well as a staff position in charge of adult ministries.
• Mike’s experience in academic education has included both classroom teaching and administration. His secular classroom experience has involved teaching in several community colleges and universities as an adjunct professor of religion, philosophy and the humanities since 1992. He has also been involved in training Christian leaders in various formats since 2002.
Personal. Family and marriage are a huge priority for the Bogarts. Mike and Melinda have been married for over thirty years. They have four children and five grandchildren. The Bogarts enjoy traveling, both for pleasure as well as in connection with leadership training. Since 1999, they have been privileged to make a life-contribution in countries such as Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa as well as many places and venues in the United States.