BridgeBuilders restores relationships under the banner of Christ by
engaging, equipping, and empowering individuals, families, and communities in South Dallas.
MEET THE TEAM
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.
The story of Nehemiah is the inspiration behind all that we do at BridgeBuilders. During Nehemiah’s life, Jerusalem’s temple had been rebuilt after the city was destroyed, but the walls were still torn down leaving the city and the Israelites susceptible to enemy attack.
Nehemiah engaged with the Israelites and saw this terrible problem. His heart broke for them because he knew them. He needed to do something to help God’s people. So, he gathered resources from King Artaxerxes and received his blessing to work with the Israelites to fix the wall. Nehemiah equipped the Israelites with swords in one hand to defend against enemy attacks and bricks in the other hand to build the wall. Each person was empowered to build the portion of the wall right in front of their home, working together, to bring dignity and pride back to the people and protection to their community and city.
Jerusalem’s walls had been down for over 150 years, but Nehemiah and the Israelites rebuilt the wall in 52 days simply through Nehemiah’s willingness to engage, equip, and empower individuals, families, and the nation of Israel.
Unite Individuals (Luke 11:17, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 13:11)
We seek to bring people together understanding that we have more in common than different. We want to see biases destroyed and friendships created to promote diversity and unity across the city.
Mutual Transformation (Galatians, 3:26-28, Romans 2:10-11)
BridgeBuilders is not just about transforming the lives of those living in the communities we serve. We believe that through uniting individuals, we will see mutual transformation for both those coming into the neighborhood to serve and those living in the neighborhood, as every person has different struggles and areas of improvement.
Redemption over Condemnation (2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 1:9)
Our emphasis as a ministry is to see the redemption of all people. We do not condemn, cast judgement, or evoke the justice system, rather we seek to restore, redeem, and renew all people in all areas of life.
Seek First the Kingdom (Matthew 6:33, Romans 14:17)
In everything we do, from cleaning up the neighborhood to job training, we want to seek first God’s Kingdom. The foundation for all that we do is found in advancing the Gospel, promoting holistic justice, and seeking freedom from sin and physical, spiritual, and emotional bondages for all people.
Build Christ’s Church (Ephesians 2:20-22, Hebrew 10:24-25, Acts 2:47)
We believe that the Church is the bride of Christ, and that Christ uses His Church as the main instrument for change in our world. Because of this, we want to see a local, indigenous church planted in the communities where we serve so that our work goes beyond BridgeBuilders.
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.