Family is what we do at Buckner. We are all about building families, strengthening families, and celebrating families. Family is where we come from and represents who we are. David, the King of Israel, once wrote (Psalm 68:6): “God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing, but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” The basic truth is clear that those without a family are lonely. They are by themselves in the world. I cannot imagine a life without a family. The family is God’s design for where we belong, become, and blossom.
We work with vulnerable children, orphans, families, and seniors to move them toward healthy, Christ-centered family environments. We focus on Child Permanency and Family Preservation to serve children and families in difficult circumstances.
I mentioned in my last blog that my grandmother, Francisca Rodriguez Reyes, was the first person in my family tree to hear the good news of the gospel of salvation. She heard the gospel in Spanish from a Baptist missionary named Edward P. Gonzalez who gathered migrant workers near Snyder, Texas, to pick cotton in the 1930’s.
The gospel my grandmother heard was presented to her husband and children who responded to the grace message in the context of a Baptist church. They were baptized so we were grafted into the Baptist family in Texas in the early 1930’s. When I was born, my family was already attending church at Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana (First Mexican Baptist Church) of Corpus Christi, Texas. The gospel came to us and continues to go through us. Primera Corpus was part of the Mexican Baptist Convention of Texas founded in 1910. By 1960 this family of Mexican Baptists became part of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, a family of 5,000 congregations that worship in over 80 languages every Sunday and 28 Baptist institutions funded by the BGCT Cooperative Program like Universities (BUA, Baylor, DBU, HBU, HSU, HPU, HBU, UMHB, & WBU) , Human Welfare Agencies (Buckner, BCFS, Children at Heart, South Texas Children’s Home Ministry), Hospitals (Baylor Scott and White, and others), and a number of other agencies who focus on ministry.
Churches Belinda and I have been connected to over the years include Primera Iglesia Bautista Corpus, Beeville, San Angelo, Arlington, Fort Worth, Memorial Baptist Church of Rialto, California, Home Gardens – Alfa Baptist Church, First Baptist Euless, North Temple, Scottsdale Baptist Church, Pueblo Nuevo Community Church, Harlandale Baptist, Trinity Baptist, and Park Cities Baptist Church.
This is my Baptist family, and I have a lot of spiritual brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. I don’t have room to list them all here including my former pastors but suffice it to say, I am part of a big Baptist family numbering about 2.2 million members in Texas. You may not have a denominational family but I hope you have a local church where you have the sense of family.
Recently, I had the privilege of preaching at the First Baptist Church of Corpus Christi, www.firstcorpus.org in the absence of Dr. Brian Hill. It was such a rich time of worship and fellowship. They are doing great mission work in the DR and will be doing a shoe drive with Buckner to bless their community.
Just last week, I was a guest of Dr. Todd Still, the new dean of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary www.baylor.edu/truett/ and Interim Provost at Baylor University, www.baylor.edu. I also spent time with Dr. Ron Cook, Truett Seminary professor and director of the Center for Effective Ministry at Truett Seminary. The students are bright leaders in the making and leaders already making a difference. I spoke on The Jesus Agenda in chapel and “Congregational and Organizational Leadership: Lessons Learned and Mistakes to Avoid” during an afternoon session.
Later in the week I had breakfast with Dr. David Hardage, Executive Director of Texas Baptists (the Baptist General Convention of Texas) www.texasbaptists.org to share fellowship and support each other. Dr. Hardage spends a lot of his time speaking in churches and encouraging pastors. We talked about; you guessed it, our Baptist family. Texas Baptists fund Buckner ministries with several hundreds of thousands of dollars to enable us to serve vulnerable children, orphans, families, and seniors. We don’t have a perfect family but it is a great family, doing lots of good in our communities and around the world. Imagine a life without a church-family. Buckner International is part of this family. Together we are blessing families across the globe.