I was tired. I was mentally, emotionally, and spiritually tired.
After 11 years of starting an organization, helping build a community in Haiti from scratch, traveling constantly to Haiti, helping start a second community in Haiti, helping host and coordinate thousands of people on mission trips, employing 12 full-time missionaries over multiple years, beginning a new community in the Mississippi Delta, helping manage over 150 employees in Haiti and another 21 in Mississippi, helping to raise millions of dollars, telling our story in countless churches and other venues, I needed a break.
Fortunately, our BGM board granted me a six-week sabbatical to rest, travel, write, and prepare for the next ten years of BGM. I was gone from the first of July through the second week of August.
I am thrilled to report that the sabbatical accomplished all that I had hoped it would. I rested, completed a new devotional book that is at the printer right now, and returned to the office with renewed energy and vision.
Now, I can’t wait to see what God does through BGM in the days ahead!
While I have returned to the office, I am sad to report that Rusty Hall is retiring from BGM effective September 15 and moving into a new season of life and work. Rusty has served as the Managing Director of BGM for almost 8 years, having started with BGM at the beginning of 2015. That means Rusty has been with BGM for 8 of our 11 years. Not only has Rusty been a huge blessing to BGM, he has also been an enormous blessing to me both personally and professionally.
Rusty has been involved in all aspects of the work of BGM. Among other things, his focus has been on internal operations, job creation/economic development in Haiti, fundraising, and strategic development and coordination of both Haitian locations. Rusty has given overall leadership to our work in the Mississippi Delta.
It would be nearly impossible to overstate the impact Rusty has had on our work. His wisdom, maturity, business experience, and walk with the Lord have all worked together to help us be far more effective than we otherwise would have been.
When Rusty came to BGM, we were still a new organization, growing rapidly, and in desperate need of organizational infrastructure to support the growth that was happening. Otherwise, we might have collapsed under the weight of all the activity and ministry that was happening. That’s when God brought Rusty to us. His 34 years of experience in the business world were exactly what we needed. In a million different ways, Rusty helped position us to experience all the wonderful ministry that has taken place over these last 8 years. From our second location in Haiti to our first location in Mississippi, we have seen God touch countless lives through the work of BGM, and Rusty has played a huge role in everything we have done.
If you get a chance, please join me in thanking Rusty for all his sacrifice and hard work on behalf of BGM and the Kingdom of God. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Reading and Writing
Education is one of the key areas in which we work. If people are unable to read, write, and do basic math, they are most likely doomed to a very difficult life. I am so happy to report that entire villages are being transformed in Haiti through our seven schools.
Beginning this month, school will start in Haiti. We will have over 2,000 students in our schools and many teachers, assistants, principals, cooks, and custodians. The children will be learning every day and will also be fed a hot meal. Many of these children would not eat every day apart from our schools. Also, all of our school employees will be paid every month. That is a great blessing in a country with extreme poverty and few jobs.
How are our schools performing? Last month, our high schools in Galette Chambon and Thoman had 36 out of 41 students pass the national exam for graduating seniors. We are so proud of these young people!
Also, I am so happy that we are opening a brand-new school in the remote village of Malafie. The school was built earlier this year and is now ready to host students. Earlier this week, Pastor Mathurin met with many of the students who will be attending this new school. The met in our cafetorium at the school in Thoman, and Pastor Mathurin shared information with them regarding registration, uniforms, and all they needed to know about attending the new school. They were very excited! Also, they received a meal after the meeting and before they walked two hours back up the mountain to Malafie.
While communicating on What’sApp with Pastor Mathurin about the new BGM school in Malafie, he sent me the following message:
“It should not be a good school like this without the BGM support, like pay employees a good salaries, on time! Have a nice classroom, nice benches, feed the children every single day, give them books, uniforms, and back packs! Wow! A lot of thanks to all of you my Pastor! May God bless you more, and more and more!!!! We are making a lot of difference my Pastor!!!”
I just love his enthusiasm about the blessing that our schools are in his village and the surrounding villages. The people of Galette Chambon and Thoman are so thankful for our schools and the supporters who help make the schools possible.
Jobs in the Delta!
I received a report this week from our Center for Economic Development in Jonestown, MS. One of the businesses we help start, the Galmore Group, is now employing 5-6 people on a regular basis. Those employees are making $10-$12 per hour. While we want to see those wages go even higher, we are excited that all of the jobs are paying more than minimum wage ($7.25 per hour). Also, the employees live in Jonestown so there is no cost for commuting, and they can easily go home for lunch if they so desire. For those employees, wages are up, and costs are down!
The children in the village of Galette Chambon were thrilled to have several opportunities this summer to attend VBS. The photos below depict the wonderful time they had learning about God and His love for them.
“Remember Marvens and Wikenley Pierre? In July, Holli Sapen Powell, Mickie Sapen West and I were raising money for them to get a new house. Well, we didn’t raise enough for a new house. With your help we raised enough for a new house with a bathroom (SERIOUSLY HUGE FOR HAITI!!) and still had enough to have furniture built for the house. Legit beds for all four people. When I said, ‘God is Able.’ I mean it. In a little over two months this went from a Facebook Message to a family standing in front of their new life. I don’t know where your faith lies, I can guarantee you my faith is all over the place all the time, but I believe my faith is a process. Today, I’m so thankful that my process includes the two “Sapen Sisters” and Marvens and Wikenley’s family and this house! The picture is the family in front of their new house! Look at Marvens smile!!! May the Lord bless and keep this house and this family in the safety of his arms and in the glory of his grace!”