Day 9: R.E.A.L. Mission Partners


Kirk Lyman-Barner

Director US Field Operations

The Fuller Center for Housing has a lot of friends.  While our mission focuses on housing we are committed to building decent homes in decent communities.  Our partnerships with organizations such as Community Renewal International, Youth Build, and a host of other like-minded service organizations helps us deliver on the decent communities mission especially when we need help with tasks that fall beyond our expertise or capacity.  By partnering with other organizations we engage the community in what Millard Fuller wrote about in his More Than Houses book.

Today’s journey allowed me to drop in the office of some dear friends Dolphus and Rosie Weary’s Rural Education and Leadership Christian Foundation (R.E.A.L.) which is located in Richland, Mississippi just south of Jackson.  Dolphus and Rosie were off on an engagement in Seattle, but I was able to meet up with their staff Linda Jackson, their son Ryan Weary and Virginia Chase.  We had a great time visiting and thinking about ways we could over the next few months formalize a mission partnership agreement.  Linda grew up in Shreveport in the Allendale neighborhood and had not heard about the work we are doing there.  Now she is anxious to go visit her hometown.


The mission statement of R.E.A.L. is as follows:

To connect resources, provide grants and technical assistance for Christian-based organizations in rural Mississippi in order to enable them to enrich the lives of underserved children, youth, and families.

We are not sure how the partnership will develop, but I have faith in the potential.  It could be that Dolphus may assist our regional boards in strategic planning and development or perhaps it will be connecting the ministries R.E.A.L. is supporting with volunteer opportunities in areas we have covenant partner activity such as in Greenwood, Mississippi where REAL has supported the Young Life-Urban Delta organization.

Dolphus and Rosie have over 27 years experience in working with rural poverty, its causes and effects and proven solutions.  In 1991, former President George Bush awarded their efforts as the 541st Thousand Point of Light.

I didn’t meet Dolphus and Rosie by chance.  No, quite the opposite.  My wife’s parents have been supporting them for years and in fact Dolphus helped perform the wedding ceremony for my sister and brother-in-law Tracy and Mark Werner.  And Dolphus is no stranger to the Fuller Center.  He was on the board of directors at Koinonia Farm when Millard presented his global vision for Partnership Housing.  He smiles when he recalls that period saying “Our board rejected Millard’s proposal so we could continue to focus on the local community around the farm.” Thus, Habitat for Humanity International was born. 

I tapped Dolphus to be one of our Clarence Jordan Symposium presenters and helped arranged for him to speak at Americus First Presbyterian Church on September 30th.  His sermon was so powerful that when one of our local board members heard it on the radio, he pulled over and parked his car so he could catch the whole message. 

Well, down to the last few days of this journey.  I’ll visit Greenwood, Yalobusha County, Tupelo and Lanett before returning home to Americus.  Blessings and thank you for taking the time to share the ride.

You can see more photos from my journey here.

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