Zenon and Tommy - Missionary Hermanos

By Jeep Collins

I met Tommy Shields in October of 2001 at the DFW airport in Dallas.  I had arrived early from San Antonio and went straight to the Toronto gate to get my ticket (before e-tickets) from Tommy Shields, the group leader.  It was my second trip to Cuba with an entirely different group and I didn't know anyone.

I connected with Bob West stationed at the gate to look for me, and he told me Tommy was up the concourse looking for me.  He described him as a big guy with curly hair. Time was getting short and I was getting a little put out with the big curly headed guy I was looking for.  I needed my ticket quickly because I would have to go out of the security area to baggage claim, get my bag, check it, get my boarding pass, and come back through security.

A few gates down the way I saw a tall curly headed guy.  He looked like a professional football player.  I looked closely at him and he stopped and looked at me.

“Jeep,” he said?

“Tommy,” I returned.

“I have your ticket,”  he said, and then started telling me what I already knew I needed to do as he began digging in the big side pocket of his cargo trousers for the ticket; something I would see him do a hundred times over the next fifteen years.  Finally he pulled out several crinkled papers and found my ticket among them.  I took it and headed to the baggage claim.  


When Zenon Garcia came to Texas from Mexico he got a job landscaping.  Zenon was a hard name for gringo’s to pronounce so people started calling him Sammy.  I didn’t know him as Zenon until I heard him called that in his home town of Nahola.

In Texas Sammy came to faith in Christ and received the call to become a pastor. Tommy knew him when they did evangelism together in the neighborhood around Sammy’s church and then went with him to Mexico.  I met Sammy when I went with them on a later trip.  

In addition to his church in Dennison Texas, Sammy has ministries in Cuba, Mexico, and Nicaragua.  Tommy and I have gone with him to these countries several times mostly doing evangelism while Sammy trains and mentors pastors.  On my first trip with him, Tommy and I met several pastors all wanting us to come to their province or town to do evangelism in the neighborhoods close to their churches.   We went to many of them, those are the Sierra Madre Oriental; eastern Mexico trips.  

Sammy is loved by the people he ministers to.  He is one of the funniest men I know, but also one of the most serious about making Jesus Christ known.

Tommy and Sammy are my hermanos, my brothers in Christ that I have shared many experiences with in Cuba, the mountains and deserts of Mexico, Nicaragua, and El Salvadore.  

Photo: Tommy and Sammy