BridgeBuilders is a faith-based charitable organization that brings faith, hope, and love to Bonton
In 1990, Mike Fechner enjoyed the material comfort of a millionaire entrepreneur in North Dallas; affluent, healthy, educated, and married. He attended church regularly, loved his family, and led the kind of upright life expected of good Christian men. Most would say Mike had it all—spiritual and tangible blessings in abundance—yet he knew something was missing. When he met Velma Mitchell, he encountered the missing "something" he longed to experience.
Velma was, in many ways, Mike's opposite; black, poor, a single mother struggling physically and financially in South Dallas. Yet, for all her difficulties, Mike saw in Velma a trust in Jesus Christ that defied her circumstances. Velma possessed something that Mike desperately wanted for himself, a real faith.
While Mike and Velma shared a common bond in Christ, a centuries-old cultural divide stood between them. Fortunately, a teenage boy helped bridge the racial and economic chasm. As Mike began mentoring Velma's son, Romon, a bond of trust began to form. As the months passed, Romon became like one of Mike's own children, and Velma like a sister. Soon, the two began to see opportunities to bring mutual blessing to their respective communities—affluent North Dallas and impoverished South Dallas.
On September 5, 1992, Romon was shot and killed in a random drive-by shooting. Romon's death became a catalyst. The tragedy galvanized the resolve of Mike and Velma to see South Dallas restored and lives renewed by the power of Christ and his kingdom. In 1995, they formed the ministry known today as BridgeBuilders with a singular compelling desire: to create a movement of God connecting Christians to serve and love the least and the lost.
For over 20 years Mike Fechner, his wife Laura, and Velma Mitchell gave their lives to loving and serving those under the oppressive reigns of poverty. Economic opportunities materialized in an area where jobs were at a premium, new homes were built where none had been built for over 50 years, children from South Dallas began receiving top scores in Dallas Independent School District, the Church was mobilized to sacrificially serve the least and forgotten, and hope was renewed as the love and good news of Christ was shared. As Mike, Laura, and Velma led the way, people from all over the city became involved in the transformative work in Dallas, and took the work to other cities across the nation. Sadly, however, Mike Fechner succumbed to his five-year battle with cancer on April 9, 2014.
Today, the mission is led forward by Mike’s son, Jonathan Fechner. Jonathan assumed responsibility of BridgeBuilders as the Executive Director in September 2018. Growing up serving in the neighborhood of Bonton, Jonathan understands the deep need to bring together individuals from different races, socio-economic statuses, and cultures so they can unite under the banner of Christ for the Kingdom of God and His work in South Dallas.
BridgeBuilders continues their work alongside many valuable church partners, organizations, donors, volunteers, and most importantly, community residents. Please join us in this movement of God as we seek first the Kingdom.
We acknowledge one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Jesus Christ, the love, mercy, and grace of God are made known to us and all people. From this overflowing abundance of God’s love, we find our call to ministry.
We proclaim together, “Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Jesus is Lord.” We desire Him to be central in our individual and corporate life.
We seek to follow Him — in His identification with the poor, the afflicted, the oppressed, the marginalized; in His special concern for children; in His respect for the dignity bestowed by God on women equally with men; in His challenge to unjust attitudes and systems; in His call to share resources with each other; in His love for all people without discrimination or conditions; in His offer of new life through faith in Him. From Him we derive our holistic understanding of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, which forms the basis of our response to human need.
We hear His call to servanthood and see the example of His life. We commit ourselves to a servant spirit permeating the organization. We know this means facing honestly our own pride, sin, and failure.
We bear witness to the redemption offered only through faith in Jesus Christ. The staff we engage are equipped by belief and practice to bear this witness. We will maintain our identity as Christian while being sensitive to the diverse contexts in which we express that identity.
Many believe that modern poverty in the West is strictly the result of economic deprivation, educational deficiency, or lack of opportunity. However, we believe that material poverty, specifically within the inner city today, originates from a cultural condition and that this cultural condition is a result of the extent to which four foundational relationships, essential to human flourishing, have been broken: relationship with God, self, others, and creation.
The state of these relationships form the basis of an individual’s worldview, which directs their choices. The result of those choices form the culture by establishing what the community will accept or reject, i.e., its “values.” In much of South Dallas, these values are predominantly those of entitlement, dependency, and victimization.
We believe that the resulting culture is oppressive and diminishes the dignity of human beings made in the image of God. We further believe that the mission of God, or missio Dei, is centered on the restoration of these four foundational relationships through the atoning work of Jesus Christ and that it is only by the redemptive power of God applied to these relationships that human beings can experience shalom (the proper ordering of their lives). Therefore, every program or initiative that we undertake must include as its goal, the restoration of some or all of these relationships.
BridgeBuilders is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Membership in the ECFA is your assurance that we adhere to the highest standards of financial stewardship and ethical practices.
BridgeBuilders is a Gold Participant with GuideStar, the world's largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.