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Family gives father ‘highlight of Christmas’

[SLIDESHOW=41712,41713,41714]EDITOR’S NOTE: Nov. 29-Dec. 6 was this year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention. The Week of Prayer, with the theme “Because of Who He Is” from Psalm 96:3 (HCSB), undergirds the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. The offering, in tandem with Cooperative Program gifts from Southern Baptist churches, supports international workers in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission. Gifts to the Lottie Moon offering are received through local Southern Baptist churches or online at imb.org, where there are resources to promote the offering. This year’s goal is $175 million.

OAXACA, Mexico (BP) — The Quinn family had agreed not to give each other any large presents last Christmas so they could send their father, Breese, on a mission trip to Mexico. So on Christmas morning when Breese saw his two children, ages 11 and 13, smiling at him as they stood beside a big wrapped present, he thought they had reneged on their pact.

But when he opened the big box, inside was a scene (a diorama or three-dimensional miniature model) that featured the mountainous region of southern Mexico. The gift was titled Oaxaca Missions 2015. Breese’s son Aidan had added trees from his train set and displayed figures at the foot of the mountain reading the Bible.

On one side of the box, Aidan and sibling, Erin, had written Romans 10:15: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

They included a family photo and one of Breese in Peru, his first missions trip in 2011 to visit International Mission Board missionaries Jeff and Liesa Holeman, whose home church is also the Quinns’: First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss. See related story. This past February, Breese was a part of a mission team from the church that worked for a week alongside the Holemans, who had relocated to Mexico.

[VIMEO=125208294]The greatest part of the gift to Breese was the prayers from his children lining a side of the box. “It’s that part of the gift that really brought me to tears, that there weren’t just prayers for me but also prayers for the people of Oaxaca.

“It was the highlight of Christmas for me, representing the support my family was giving to send me out on their behalf,” Breese said.

Change of plans

When a teacher’s strike in Oaxaca was going to halt plans the Holemans had for Breese and fellow church member Buster Hale to teach English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) classes to a group of teachers there, they all wondered whether that part of the trip would need to be canceled. They began thinking that Breese and Buster would end up helping in clinics that a group of medical professionals from the Oxford congregation would be conducting in the area that same week.

But when Liesa heard that a family wanted one-on-one instruction in English, the ESL aspect of the trip remained, though different than originally planned.

Liesa, Buster and Breese taught ESL classes that week to a small group gathered at Iglesia Cristiana Biblica Evangelica Alamos. Liesa and Buster taught a handful of youth in the sanctuary, while Breese practiced English with Alamos’ pastor Carlos Vasquez and his wife Sara around their parsonage’s kitchen table.

The pastor dreams of offering English classes at the church as a way to reach out to his community. His wife, a teacher, was practicing for her certification exam, which will offer her greater job stability.

“Spending time with Sara and Carlos has been really gratifying, to support these folks in some little way, to help them to better minister to their community,” Breese said.

An associate professor of physics at the University of Mississippi, Breese is accustomed to plotting out a trajectory of how things should work, but he said the change of plans on this trip taught him to “quit relying on [his] own plans and to follow God’s lead.”

Prior to the trip, the Oxford congregation had been studying the Experiencing God book.

“This experience has been so closely tied to this study,” Breese said. “I’m no longer just trying to figure out what to do for God. I’m available for what God wants to do through me.

“It’s so easy to see the needs and how God is working … when we’re taken out of our element. I want to recognize what the needs are in my community, when the obstacles to that are just the routine of daily life. I want to see past the routine and identify needs and what God is doing about those needs and how I can join Him there, like here in Oaxaca.”

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  • Kate Gregory