August 11, 1999

Goat ministry milks Texas
mission money for more

___By Ken Camp
___Texas Baptist Communications
___BUFFALO--Jesus spoke of goats and sheep to teach a lesson in compassion. In his familiar story about Judgment Day, goats fail the test.
___When Charlie Bing speaks of goats, it's also a lesson in compassion. But in his eyes, goats may hold the keys to God's kingdom for some villagers in northern Mexico.
___"Just think--all because of a little goat, there's the possibility of starting a church in a village," he said.
___Bing and his wife, Paulette, serve as Mission Service Corps volunteers with Texas Baptist River Ministry. At their 75-acre farm near Buffalo, they breed and raise goats for Mexican pastors to give to needy families in remote Chihuahuan desert villages and for
CHARLIE AND PAULETTE BING, Mission Service Corps volunteers from Buffalo, care for Pocahontas--one of the herd on the experimental goat farm they operate in cooperation with River Ministry. With them is Angeles Veyas, a Mexican child who lives with them. (Photo by Ken Camp)
Casa Hogar orphanages along the Texas/Mexico border.
___The goats provide a source of nutritious milk and income for villagers whose only livelihood is collecting and processing wax from native candelilla plants for meager wages.
___More important to the Bings, however, is that the goats offer Baptist churches in northern Mexico an avenue for sharing the message of God's love.
___"The goats are an effective witnessing tool for getting into villages that don't have anything except candelilla," Bing said. "They open a lot of doors."
___Through gifts to the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists help support the ongoing work of River Ministry and provide for the recruiting and training of Mission Service Corps volunteers such as the Bings.
___Paulette Bing said God first gave her a heart for Spanish-speaking people about 12 years ago when she volunteered with an English-as-a-Second-Language ministry.
___"I felt like God was calling us to work with the Mexican people, but I didn't know how," she said.
___Then her husband traveled with Lloyd Taylor, a longtime River Ministry volunteer, to see the needs and the ministry opportunities in northern Mexico. Bing was hooked.
___"It really touches your heart," he said.
___Two tours of mission sites along the borderland sponsored by Woman's Missionary Union of Texas--plus some gentle persuasion by Elmin Howell, founding director of River Ministry--convinced the Bings God wanted them to enter the goat ministry.
___Today, they work closely with Terry and Bonnie Franklin of Stanton in experimental crossbreeding of goats for Mexico. Since the dry plains of Stanton and the post oak-covered hills around Buffalo are very similar to two of the dominant ecosystems in Chihuahua, the farms provide good laboratories for developing suitable goats.
___"We want to find a goat that will be hearty in Mexico," Bing explained.
___Four years ago, the couple made what "Experiencing God" author Henry Blackaby calls a "major adjustment to join in God's activity." They sold their hardware store and lumberyard in downtown Buffalo, a business that had been their livelihood for 20 years and had been in her family for three generations. They planned to devote themselves to the experimental goat farm and other ministries.
___"The Lord has seasoned us quite a bit these last three or four years," she said.
___It hasn't been easy, the Bings acknowledged. Last year's drought forced several of their feed suppliers out of business. Along with their son, Paul, the family had to open a new farm and ranch equipment supply store to make a living. While not as demanding as the lumberyard, the business has limited the time available for ministry.
___Even so, the Bings took 22 goats to Mexico last year, and they have another seven ready.
___They tutor local Hispanic youth, help a Hispanic mission in nearby Jewett and serve as mission development directors for Leon Baptist Association.
___They also continue to work with suppliers to coordinate the distribution of Spanish-language Bibles, discipleship materials, hymnals and other resources along the Rio Grande. And they deliver donated meat and supplies to the Casa Hogar orphanages in northern Mexico.
___"The borderland is a mission field just waiting to be reached," Paulette Bing said. "And it's right at our back door. Actually, it's our front door now."


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