On December 2, 1879 the first three children that were received into the Buckner Orphan’s Home in Dallas were John and Alice Cruse from McKinney, Texas; and John Jones from Ellis County. These were the first children to be blessed by the Buckner legacy in the early days of this marvelous ministry that spans across a century and three decades. One hundred and thirty-one years ago today, Buckner Children’s Home officially began serving orphans in Dallas.
Almost a year ago, I was elected by the board of trustees of Buckner International to serve as the ministry’s sixth president in 130 years. I began at Buckner in 2007 after a seven- year ministry at Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio, Texas. My first assignment at Buckner was to serve as president of Buckner Children and Family Services Inc., a ministry that now spans 93 cities worldwide. In 1879, we began by impacting three lives. That number has grown to 350,000 this year. My vision is to impact 1 million lives annually by 2015.
Every single life impacted represents a child in a vulnerable situation, an orphan, a family, or an elder that possesses immeasurable redemptive potential. People often ask me how Buckner has been able to remain strong after 130 years. I can only speak for the last four years. Buckner has had strong and consistent leadership excellence, God’s favor, and a willingness to implement change in order to remain faithful to the Buckner mission born out of James 1:27.
I am blessed to serve with an outstanding board of trustees and phenomenal group of executive leaders that live at the edge of the supernatural everyday as we attempt to make life better for vulnerable children, orphans, and elders. Our staff members are energetic, passionate, gifted, talented, and focused on do their work as ministry.
As I look back over the year, I have had the privilege of being part of a historic transition in leadership led by Dr. Ken Hall, Buckner’s fifth president. He has been masterful in this transition and has provided keen insight, wisdom, and counsel at just the right time. David Slover, President of Buckner Foundation has provided extraordinary leadership in the development of relationships and resources for Buckner.
In 2010 Buckner launched two Community Transformation Centers in Guatemala, two Community Transformation Centers and a girls transition home in Honduras; and a new ministry in the Dominican Republic. This year we saw the transition of Baptist Memorials Ministry in San Angelo and Burnett, Texas into Buckner Retirement Services. We also expanded the Austin retirement campus and will host a grand opening of the new Buckner Villas in Austin this Friday. We launched an automated trustee library to enhance board effectiveness and hosted our annual leadership retreat to set the strategic direction for 2011. We could not have accomplished so much without the orchestrated effort of our talented staff and leadership, and the generosity of donors that want to make a difference with their resources.
On this day, we have much to celebrate as we reflect on our past. As rich as this history and heritage is, I am convinced that the God of Redemption and the God who provides will use Buckner to bless children, orphans, families, and elders beyond anything we are able to imagine, dream, or ask for. To God be the Glory for the things he has done.