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Cornerstone co-founder Jack Buster remembered for his “spontaneous radical generosity”


This week the Cornerstone Community around Australia is both grieving a loss and celebrating the life of one of its founders, Jack Buster.

Jack and his wife Harriet.

Jack and his wife Harriet.

Jack Buster was one of the pioneers of Cornerstone, a non-denominational Christian mission movement which began in Bourke, NSW in 1978. Jack and his wife Harriet provided their farm for students to work on. They were involved in the community every day and built a group of Christians living intentionally in their community, sharing their lives and living for Jesus.

Cornerstone now operates several training campuses in regional Australia and supports a network of missional teams and communities across the country.

“Always a larger than life figure, Jack has left a stamp on many lives”, says Paul Roe, co-founder and now national director. “He threw himself into Cornerstone in the pioneering days with the same vigour he did everything and the open hospitality of Jack and Harriet has multiplied into hundreds of Cornerstone families.”

Martin Watson became a student of Cornerstone in 1985 and worked on Jack’s property. He recalls, “Every morning Jack would show up in his ute, and we’d have a prayer. He would tell us a story or a joke before he told us where we going to work that day.”

Watson remembers fondly his time spent in Jack and Harriet’s home. “We’d all gather at their home for pancakes and waffles on Sunday nights. I also slept in their house when I was on night shift, since it was too hot to sleep in our caravans during the day. Jack was amazingly hospitable and generous.”

“There are a lot of students who would have very special memories of Jack.”

Watson believes Jack Buster will be remembered for his “spontaneous radical generosity”. Watson, who now teaches at the Cornerstone Campus in Swan Hill, hasn’t lived in Bourke for eight or nine years. “Yet,” he recalls, “Jack was still ringing to tell us he was thinking of us and to encourage us.”

Jack Buster

Jack Buster

Jack was a “pioneering sort of guy” who has left a legacy of adventure amongst the Cornerstone Community. “He was not one for sitting through long meetings or bureaucracy or taking a long time to accomplish things,” says Watson. “He often tried things that were completely new; he was very adventurous. He was like the early explorers. And hopefully some of that pioneering spirit will remain with us.”

Laurie McIntosh, another co-founder of Cornerstone looks over the past, saying, “Cornerstone grew from a seed planted on Fort Bourke station west of the Darling River at Bourke. Laurie and Paul, with Robyn and Elvira, brought the seed, Jack and Harriet, with their neighbours Owen and Esther Boone, provided the soil.”

Paul Roe believes that “stories of Jack’s impetuous generosity and his many random acts of kindness will probably outlast anything else about him.”

Paul and his wife Robyn sang hymns with Jack and Harriet on the Sunday before Jack passed away and shared communion. Jack became coherent enough to join in and mouth ‘Blessed Assurance’ and to loudly affirm “I am ready” when they sang ‘Soon and very soon’.

McIntosh reflects, “Jack’s passing is a reminder of the way God works. Seeds die in order to produce a greater crop. He builds a team to carry out his work. One plants, another waters, but it is God who gives the harvest.”