By Kristy Etheridge
More than a few people have told Dr. Jim Buckley he’s crazy.
The pastor, husband, and grandpa to 13 embarked April 1 on a 3,000-mile journey across the United States.
For many, the trip would be daunting enough in a car, but Buckley isn’t driving the cross-country route.
He’s walking it.
“I’m not a young kid,” laughed Buckley. “I’m 66 years old. I’m not in horrible shape, but I’m not the stud of the world.”
Buckley’s plan to walk 20-25 miles a day, six days a week for six months is physically challenging, but he believes the walk is an answer to a spiritual call.
He wants to personally deliver a simple message to families across the country:
“Jesus can be in your home.”
When the Home is Strong, the Church is Strong
For years, Buckley has had a heart for the home. He believes the family unit is the epicenter of the Church, and he’s been deeply saddened watching many families struggle with addiction, abuse, immorality, and so many other issues that can invade the home.
“We know the struggles of a home, even a good home,” said Buckley, who raised five children with his wife of 44 years, Glenda. “Been there, done that.”
Buckley left his church in Newbury Park, Calif., on April 1, and plans to reach his final destination, New York City, in September. On the way, Buckley is stopping to visit families in 13 states in hopes of strengthening and promoting the home.
“When the home is strong, the church is strong,” said Buckley. “When the home is weak, the church is weak.”
Buckley — who has a master’s in theological studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary — said he loves the Church very much. But there must be more emphasis on the home.
“We put thousands of dollars in our clergy and our buildings,” said Buckley. “That’s not wrong, but the Church began in the home. We’ve flipped the whole thing.”
As Buckley walks the highways and back roads of the continental U.S., he hopes to visit about 100 homes, talking with families and spreading the love of Jesus. He’ll encourage people to bring Jesus home by regularly praying and reading the Bible—not just on Sunday.
“Our people have to go home after every great sermon, every great song by the choir,” said Buckley. “They have to go home, and Satan knows it, and we’re not prepared for it.”
Bringing ‘My Hope’ Home
During his journey, Buckley is spreading the word about My Hope with Billy Graham, a continent-wide outreach taking place in thousands of homes in November, 2013.
The event trains participating Canadian and American believers to welcome unchurched friends and family into their homes in November. An evangelistic video featuring stories, testimonies and a Gospel message from Billy Graham will be viewed via TV, DVD or streaming video.
Then, the hosts of the event will briefly share their own testimonies before giving their guests an opportunity to invite Jesus into their lives through prayer.
“We want people to know that Dr. Graham can be in their homes in November, and they can invite friends,” said Buckley, who accepted Jesus 50 years ago at a Billy Graham Crusade. Now, he’s excited to be part of Mr. Graham’s latest outreach.
“It’s fabulous,” said Buckley. “I think God’s definitely involved in this. God is up to something.”
One RV, 13 States
Buckley’s wife, Glenda, is joining him on his journey. The couple bought a RV for the trip, and Glenda has learned to drive it. As her husband puts one foot in front of the other, she isn’t far away, driving a parallel route. He plans to call local churches a couple days before he reaches various towns to help arrange some other visits.
And he’s leaving the rest up to God.
“He’s doing this,” said Buckley. “This is His walk.”