On today’s episode of Engaging Missions, Mike and Arlene Armstrong come and share about a ministry quite unlike most organizations. This ministry, known as TACTICA, seeks to train and disciple police officers in the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose.

Mike and Arlene have served with the ministry for two years, seeing God work and move among these officers and their families. They now visit churches in the States in order to raise support for the ministry. They look forward to returning to Costa Rica so that they might continue investing in the lives of the police officers and so that they might expand the ministry to other towns in the country.

What we talked about

Detailed Show Notes (click to read)

Getting to know Michael and Arlene Armstrong

Introduction

Our guests today, Mike and Arlene Armstrong, minister in Costa Rica in a way quite different than the expected form of evangelism. With their ministry called Tactica, they serve in Central America by training authorities and policemen in how to better do their jobs as well as by sharing the Gospel and discipling them. After spending two years in San Jose, Costa Rica, the two of them now live in Texas as they raise funds to expand the ministry when they return.

Mike and Arlene have three children, one daughter and two sons, and they have four grandchildren. They greatly appreciate that they can use social media and other tools to stay in contact with their family.

The two of them seek to increase financial support because their vision of ministry exceeds the finances they currently have. Due to that, they have learned that sometimes, certain ideas or plans must be put on hold until enough support comes in.

Itinerary in the States

Over the last eight months, Mike and Arlene visited many churches in 14 states in order to raise support. They shared about their ministry and the visions that they desire to see come to fruition. Currently, they’re seeking to find more churches to speak in as they go through a lull period in their plans. The last few months, although somewhat hectic, served in allowing more people to better understand their ministry and to increase funding.

Prior police training

Before stepping into ministry, Mike served as a deputy sheriff in Texas for twenty years. Ten years ago, Mike sought to move up in the police force to chief of police, but God had different plans for him. Three years later, he and Arlene felt called to go into ministry as God used other people and sermons to point them in the direction of missions. After hearing the call, Mike and Arlene went through a process of transition from the police force to serving in Costa Rica.

A season of struggle

As soon as Mike and Arlene committed to serve in San Jose, policemen in the States began requesting for Mike to apply for chief of police. The dream that had once been so distant suddenly seemed so close, but he knew that God called him to ministry. Although the offer tugged at him, he and Arlene chose to obey God and follow His lead rather than follow their own dreams or desires.

Meaningful verse

“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His Name together.” - Psalm 34:3

Actions to involve others

Mike shares how he includes believers back home in the ministry by informing them of events in the ministry and asking for prayer. He believes that their involvement will bring encouragement and strength to the missionaries. Arlene mentions that by updating people about their ministry and by sharing prayer requests, those people become a part of the ministry with God and with them. By supporting a missionary, that person becomes a missionary in a way.

Engaging Missions Leadership MInute

Scott McClelland of FX Missions shares about how results prove leadership more than attributes. Listen to discover what happened during some missions training exercises and what you can do if you have failed similarly.

If you have a question about leadership that you’d like to have answered on the show, email it to feedback@engagingmissions.com.

About the ministry

What is your ministry?

Mike and Arlene work alongside two other families with prior law enforcement experience in order to train and encourage police officers and share the Gospel with them. Because people in Costa Rica do not highly regard their police officers, those policemen tend to lack training. In response to that, Mike and the team provide quality training to these police officers. By doing so, the ministry gains access into these men and women’s lives in order to share the Good News with them.

During the training, Christian policemen from the U.S. visit and share their testimonies of God’s goodness in their lives. Also, the ministry rewards officers who memorize Bible verses as a way to motivate them to read the Word. Following the American policemen’s testimonies, Mike and the rest of the team follow up with the local officers and disciple those who seem interested in the Gospel. They do so by building those relationships and getting them plugged into small groups or Bible studies.

The fruits of obedience

Mike shares about some of the ways in which he has seen God move in the ministry. When people come to the training, many have no desire to be there and simply came because their bosses made them. As they continue training, however, they begin to realize that Mike, Arlene, and the rest of the team really care about not only their physical safety and health, but also their spiritual lives as well.

Mike recounts a story of one police officer who came in with bitterness and anger. Within three days of training, she broke down and cried. She told Mike that she finally understood her purpose for being there, and she knew that she came to hear from God. Stories like this remind us that God moves and works in many ways, and that when we obey His call, there is fruit from that obedience.

Looking at what is to come

As Mike and Arlene spent two years in San Jose, they realized the need for ministry in pockets of Costa Rica where officers with less money had to live. Because of their distance from the city, these police officers struggle to connect with a group of like-minded believers because they may only have a Catholic church in their small town. Mike and Arlene long to reach these men and women as well as their families so that they motivate them to read their Bibles and get to know God on a personal level.

Needs to make the vision a reality

At this point in the ministry, Mike and Arlene need more support and funding to make the vision of reaching distant officers take form. Currently, 14 to 15 police families live in one of the small towns in Costa Rica, and Mike and Arlene needed a vehicle in order to reach them. God blessed them with one recently, which encouraged both of them greatly.

They now primarily lack the financial support to allow for the expansion of the ministry from San Jose to other towns in the country. Because of this need for money, Mike and Arlene are staying in the States to raise funds and support. They hope to have enough backing financially in order to return to Costa Rica and to continue ministering to the officers there.

How to learn more about Tactica

What fuels your passion?

Mike and Arlene find that their greatest motivation for what they do comes from a desire to build relationships with the police officers and their families there.

What would you do differently?

Mike shares about his wish that he had included more people in the beginning of his ministry. If he had done so, he believes he would have been able to build a better network of support for the ministry.

Focus on YOU, the listener

Seeing marketplace as a ministry

  • “We aren’t encouraged enough in this day and age to see the vision that you plant, and you cultivate, and then you reap a harvest.” - Arlene
  • “You will reap, but you have to sow, and you do have to cultivate. So … continue doing that and don’t give up.” - Arlene
  • “Consecutive, repeated action for the positive will bring success and it will bring a change in those people’s lives that you’re investing into.” - Arlene
  • “We consider our people back in the States our cover people. They’re standing back, they’re not in the middle of it, but they’re standing back, covering us with prayer, covering us with finances, so it takes both.” - Mike

Surrounded by nations

  • “Don’t be afraid of learning what it takes to share with somebody from a different culture.” - Arlene
  • “Try to not think of what they do as wrong, Try to reframe your mindset to saying, ‘That’s different,’ because when you’re in the mindset of, ‘That’s wrong,’ you’re very judgemental and they sense that in you. But if you just think of what they do as, ‘That’s different,’ then that opens you up to being more open towards them, and they will sense that, and you will have a chance to build a relationship with that person.” - Arlene
  • “Love them. Find a way to love those people. They might not be exactly like you, but they still have struggles, and if they know somebody cares about them, then they will, maybe not immediately, but they will open up.” - Mike
  • “Every person has an opportunity because of your work, or because of where your neighborhood or school [is]. Everybody has one or two people that they have the opportunity to serve … and share the Bible with them.” - Mike
  • “Ministry is up-close and personal. You can’t do it from across the street; you’ve got to do it right there.” - Mike

Internet and book resources

Parting advice and contact info

  • Contact: los2armstrong@abwe.cc
  • “Every morning, Arlene and I are waking up and reminding ourselves and reminding each other, ‘Who can we serve today?’” - Mike
  • “Find somebody that you can serve. Make a difference.” - Mike

Questions, Topics, and Times

  • [00:27] – Introduction
  • [03:29] – Your itinerary in the States
  • [04:23] – Prior police training
  • [06:20] – A season of difficulty
  • [08:45] – Meaningful verse
  • [09:41] – Actions to involve others
  • [11:51] – Engaging Missions Leadership Minute
  • [14:43] – What is your ministry?
  • [17:49] – The fruit of obedience
  • [19:31] – Looking at what is to come
  • [21:14] – Needs to make the vision a reality
  • [23:38] – How to learn more about Tactica
  • [24:29] – What fuels your passion?
  • [26:29] – What would you do differently?
  • [29:01] – Seeing marketplace as a ministry
  • [32:20] – Surrounded by the nations
  • [35:23] – Internet and book resources
  • [38:34] – Parting advice and contact info

 

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