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Buckner Government Relations team visits the U.S. Capitol

Opportunities for conversation, learning and advocacy

Representatives of Buckner Government Relations and Church Engagement teams met in Washington D.C. to attend the annual National Prayer Gathering and made several Capitol Hill office and Embassy visits.

The team’s first visit was to the Guatemalan embassy, to meet with Celeste Marinelli, Minister Counselor. Discussions covered the crisis level of irregular migration from Guatemala to the U.S and ongoing efforts on the part of Guatemalan government to address the current crisis. The Minister Counselor shared how Guatemalan children make up half of the unaccompanied youth crossing the U.S. border and that most are young boys seeking work in the U.S. 

There were conversations on the very real dangers of violence, exploitation and trafficking these young people face on the journey and once they arrive. In addition, information about the Buckner Family Hope Center® programs available in Guatemala and in Latin America was shared. With more public and private support, Buckner could expand these efforts to make an even greater impact on families and discourage minors from embarking on such treacherous and dangerous journeys into the United States. 

Next stop was the Embassy of the Dominican Republic, where the team had the pleasure of meeting Her Excellency, Ambassador Sonia Guzman. She shared her pride in and hope for the Dominican Republic as a growing economic powerhouse. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the complementary work Buckner does there, including the Family Hope Center programs supported by the World Series Champion Texas Rangers. Buckner staff also highlighted the economic empowerment Buckner programs are bringing to women via a social enterprise that trains and employs them to make jewelry and textiles to support their families. Her Excellency shared Houston is home to the largest number of Dominican diasporas in the United States. There were a few discussions around the possible opportunity of Buckner extending its services to the most vulnerable families and children in this community, by working with the Dominican Consulate in Houston.

Advocacy in DC

As part of the Capitol Hill stop, the team visited the offices of Senator Cornyn, Congressman Pflueger, Congresswoman Crockett and Congressman Carter. Next was the Texas State Society of Washington D.C. event, hosted by the DFW airport in celebration of their recent expansion announcement.

The event, held in Congress, created an opportunity to share a bit about the domestic and international work Buckner does with fellow Texans, staff on the Hill and more. Congresswoman Vanduyne (TX 24th) district addressed the crowd. Staff had the opportunity to connect with Congressman Nathan Moran, Texas' Congressional District 1, who serves in Longview.

The final diplomatic stop was at the Honduran Embassy. Honduras' embassy mission is to change people's image of their country, as stated by the Minister Counselor, Leonardo Valenzuela Neda. Through conversations, it was clear how economics can play a major role in strengthening or breaking apart vulnerable families. As is the case with Guatemala, the government of Honduras is striving to provide opportunities for families to remain in Guatemala. 

Irregular migration not only negatively impacts vulnerable families and a nation's economic prosperity, but also the very fabric of a society. Thus, Buckner was able to reinforce the commitment to the embassy to support vulnerable families and child welfare initiatives in Honduras, including serving the vulnerable within the Honduran diaspora in Dallas (the largest Honduran population in the U.S.), through our Family Hope Center programs.    

To conclude the visit, several thousand prayer warriors from 127 countries gathered together. Buckner team members celebrated their freedom to pray with and for one another. 

The National Prayer Gathering was both inspiring and a great reminder that God is in control. People from the business community, church ministries, NGOs, foreign government representatives, diplomats, Congress and so many others, heard from a plethora of speakers including senators, representatives, former astronauts, presidents and everyday heroes. 

The crowd was thrilled when Andrea Bocelli and his daughter sang “Halleluia.” It was encouraging to be in a room of thousands celebrating prayer, knowing the power of prayer is still evident in our nations’ capital. 

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