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J Lanier Burns

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J Lanier BurnsFamily values have shaped the life of Dr. Lanier Burns—his sense of obligation to his family carried him through many of the major decisions in his life. He attended Davidson College because it was a family school, following his brothers and sisters to college. It was there, at Christmas of his senior year, that his matchmaking sister introduced him to Kathy, the future Mrs. Burns.

At Davidson, Dr. Burns was in ROTC. With a father in the U.S. Air Corps who felt like every man should serve in the military, Lanier was destined to follow.

In 1957 listening to the Billy Graham New York Crusade in military school, he accepted Christ.

“Military school has a lot of hazing, so I figured I needed someone to help me,” he said.

The funny thing is, he was already on his way to becoming a Presbyterian minister. His family had long been in the Presbyterian church.

“Becoming a minister was one of the truly distinguished things that you could do with your life, and I bought into that. So accepting Christ solidified my desire for ministry.”

In 1968 he moved from Western Carolina to San Antonio, Texas, to serve in the military police corps for three years.While in San Antonio he attended a Bible conference where the speaker gave a wonderful Bible exposition.

“I went up and asked this conference speaker where I should go to learn to preach the Word, and he told me Dallas Seminary. And I’ve been here ever since, since 1968.”

In 1972 Dr. Burns got involved with the Asian Christian Academy (ACA) in Bangalore, India. ACA is a seminary, secondary school, a field hospital, and an orphanage on 60 acres of land. He is now the president of ACA, and in charge of support services for the Indian wing, including people who travel there every two to three years to help with jobs like teaching, nursing, and assisting physicians.

While Dr. Burns has a focused ministry on India because of ACA, he speaks at conferences around the world. He said it’s not his favorite thing to do, though.

“I really love church leadership, and small group leadership more. I just hate losing contact with the people that I have ministered to.”

He enjoys preaching, working with people in in-depth relationships, leadership, and “insightful scholarship.” Dr. Burns is deeply concerned with impacting his students, and therefore loves working with small groups.

“Small classes increase your impact on your students.”

Seeing his students live godly lives most excites Dr. Burns. He is not partial to any one ministry.

“I am for godly doctors, godly business people—if a person is a pastor, I’m excited, a missionary ... I’m really excited when people find their passion.”

He credits his wife Kathy for their mutual involvement in the local church, in “practical ministries,” and in people’s lives.

He has a son who is a surgeon, and three daughters—one physical therapist, another who does personnel recruiting, and the youngest is a portrait artist. He is very proud of all four children. But more even more than his wife and children, Dr. Burns is proud of serving Christ and His Word.

“I’m more excited about the Lord after 20 years of teaching and 58 years of life than I’ve ever been. More than anything the Lord turns me on.”