In the fall of 2010, as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Jackson, MS (FBCJ), Stan Buckley led his church into a mission project in Haiti whereby they would build a sustainable community for those still living in tents as a result of the devastating earthquake that took place in January of 2010. Many miraculous events have occurred since then, and in his book, But God—A Story of God using Ordinary People in Extraordinary Ways in the World’s Most Difficult Places, Stan recalls the many stories of God’s amazing work. This book can be purchased at booksbystan.com. Two new books have now been published. In 2022, I’m Still Thinking… and A Simple Guide to Understanding the Bible in 2023.
In August 2010, Stan took an exploratory trip to Haiti with Board member Mark Rich and a young lady named Mallory Rosamond. The purpose of the trip was to get a first-hand view of the effects of the earthquake and to see if there was any way they could help. Stan reported the following:
“The first tent city we entered was a tent city for amputees. While walking through the collection of tents, I encountered a young Haitian man who appeared to be 19 or 20 years old. His name was Thomas and his English was outstanding. I asked Thomas how he came to live in this tent city. He told me his father had died in the earthquake and his mother had become an amputee. I asked him what it was like living in that tent city. He wasn’t complaining, but he answered my question by telling me that life wasn’t good there. The food was bad and the water was bad. I asked him how he could make it, emotionally, day after day in that tent city. He said, ‘there is a book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes. It says there is a time for everything – a time to laugh and a time to cry. Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry.'”
“I, then, asked Thomas that if there was a community that had proper housing and medical care and a school to continue their education, would he and his family and friends be interested in living there. He said to me, ‘of course. But that’s impossible.’ As soon as he said those words, God spoke to my heart and said two words: ‘But God.’ I was immediately reminded of the truth that nothing is impossible with God. I was reminded of that passage in Ephesians 2 that says we were dead in our trespasses and sins, but God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ Jesus. I was reminded that God has a wonderful habit of working in impossible situations – at the Red Sea, in the lion’s den, in the fiery furnace.”
“I realized that it was impossible for me to build a sustainable community in Haiti. I know nothing of construction or medicine or agriculture. But God knows everything about all these subjects and He could use us to build a sustainable community that would make a difference today and forever in the lives of hurting people.”
“And so, we continue to see God work in an impossible situation. We continue to see Him make a way when there seems to be no way. We continue to realize that we could never build this sustainable community, BUT GOD can!”
In May of 2011, construction began on a sustainable community in Haiti on 17 acres of land. The land is located in a community called Galette Chambon, in the region of Ganthier, that is approximately 18 miles east of the airport in Port-au-Prince. In the early years, the sustainable community included:
- medical-dental complex
- 147 houses
- water wells
- soccer field
- agriculture plots
- house for nurse missionary and family
- house for additional missionary and family
- air-conditioned dorms for visiting American teams
The construction of the sustainable community went so well, so quickly, that Stan resigned from FBCJ effective August 14, 2011 to form But God Ministries to continue this work. But God Ministries is a non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization.
In addition to meeting physical needs, our goal at But God Ministries is to share the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That Good News is that God so loved the world, including Haiti, that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. But God Ministries seeks to share the hope and love that are found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Hope Center was completed in February 2012. It includes 6 buildings. Two of the buildings are used for medical-dental purposes, the third building is a dorm for visiting teams, and the fourth building contains bathrooms, showers, and a kitchen. The fifth building is a missionary house for the American nurse and his/her family who operate the medical-dental clinic full-time. The sixth building is a missionary house for other visiting missionaries. In addition, a water well, security fence, and septic system are part of the medical-dental complex.
In August 2012, our Medical Director and his wife (Tony and Mickie West) moved to The Hope Center in Galette Chambon to live and work on a full-time basis. A second well was dug and is used daily by the people to receive clean water for drinking, cooking, washing, and bathing. Hundreds of mission teams have gone to Haiti, involving thousands of volunteers and numerous dental and medical teams. In November 2014, we completed our second Hope Center in the mountainous village of Thoman, an hour’s drive from Galette Chambon. 280 houses have been built in Galette Chambon and Thoman and families have moved from the filth and hopelessness of a tent city into our new village.
Thousands of American Christians have volunteered on a mission trips to Haiti with us over the years. Tens of thousands of patients have been seen at our medical-dental clinics. Hundreds of children have attended Vacation Bible Schools. Dozens and dozens of jobs have been created. Hundreds of children have received scholarships for school. Numerous gardens have been planted and have provided food for the families from the tent cities.
Outpatient Malnutrition Program
Before Pen Lavi (“Bread of Life”) Malnutrition Center opened, malnourished patients were sent 2 hours away to an unfamiliar place. Parents had difficulty visiting and could not receive needed nutrition education and counselling. In 2017, we opened Pen Lavi, located in Ganthier, Haiti, about 18 miles east of Port au Prince and about a 15 minute drive from the Galette Chambon Hope Center. Children we saw at our clinics and in the surrounding area with acute malnutrition were able to receive very specialized daily care to get better. Pen Lavi, and it’s staff of 13 Haitians plus 2 American missionaries helped these children heal physically, educated and encouraged parents, while sharing the love of Jesus. Visiting mission teams assisted in caring for the children, taught nutrition classes, conducted Bible studies, and helped in other needed ways.
In June 2020, we made the decision to close our Malnutrition Center and start an Outpatient Malnutrition program. We felt like this would be the most effective way to serve the communities near our locations. In addition, several factors went into this decision as our nurse went back to school to receive additional training, the continued civil unrest in Haiti prevented us from reopening and taking children to hospitals when their care required more than we could offer, and Love-A-Child built a very large and nice Malnutrition Center. We have two full-time Haitian nurses that run our outpatient program. They treat patients four days a week at the clinic at Galette Chambon. Our goal is to prevent children from getting so malnourished that they need inpatient care; however, those that need inpatient care will be referred to the new Love-A-Child Malnutrition Center.
From the beginning of our work in Haiti, we planned to one day begin sustainable community development in Mississippi, specifically in the Mississippi Delta area. In 2016, Kelly Sayle moved to Jonestown, MS as BGM’s MS Delta Community Manager. In 2017, we completed our 6,000 sq. ft. Hope Center, where we have hosted many mission teams to be involved in our work. We have refurbished local businesses, including a building we call The Life Center, and we hired local Jonestown resident Linda McGrew as our Life Center Coordinator. In the Life Center, we have a High school diploma program and hold Legal clinics. In 2018, we acquired and now operate the Montessori school and opened a Dental clinic where dentists volunteer to serve each week. Many dilapidated houses have been torn down and removed, and we are in the process of developing affordable housing options for residents. We have held several community health fairs with various screenings, and have renovated the Health Clinic building. In 2020, we hired local Jonestown resident Bennie Brown as our MS Delta Community Manager, and Amber Gray as our Team Project Coordinator. We built a 4,000 sq. ft. Economic Development Center to house a new local business and develop and assist local startups. In 2022, we opened a medical clinic that is open 2 days a week and also hired a full-time Director of Spiritual Development, Robert Miller.