BGM is launching new work in the Mississippi Delta.
October 10, 2016
Dear Friend of BGM,
I have big news to report – really, really, big news! We are officially launching a new work in the Mississippi Delta.
From the beginning of our work in Haiti, it has been in the back of my mind that we would go to Haiti, learn valuable lessons about sustainable community development, then return home to apply those lessons in Mississippi. After all, we have significant challenges in our state. We have challenges with housing, healthcare, education, jobs, and access to healthy food. We have spiritual problems that cause so many of our other problems. And, while these challenges exist in all parts of Mississippi, they seem to be even more concentrated in the Delta.
So, I am thrilled to announce that our first work in Mississippi will be in a small town called Jonestown. Jonestown is located in the northwest part of the state about 12 miles northeast of Clarksdale. If you were driving north on I-55, you would take a left at Batesville and drive about 30 minutes.
Jonestown has a population of 1,200. There is no grocery store, no medical clinic, no drug store, and no bank. There are serious housing issues. There are few jobs. But there are wonderful people there who are loved by God and who simply need real opportunities to better themselves and their families.
What have we done thus far? We have been working towards our launch in Jonestown for over a year. Already, we’ve taken several significant steps:
- We have met countless times with the mayor of Jonestown, Patrick Campbell, and other community leaders. I have preached at a local church and we have conducted a town hall meeting with approximately 30 leaders of the community wherein I introduced our organization and shared possible ideas for the future. We then had a productive Q & A time.
- We have met with experts in healthcare, business, housing, education, and community development seeking to have a better understanding of the issues we face.
- We have raised $105,000 to go towards building a Hope Center in the middle of town. The Hope Center, like our two Hope Centers in Haiti, will be the headquarters for BGM and will be the place from which all our ministry will flow.
- Last month we moved our Community Manager, Kelly Sayle, into the Jonestown area. Importantly, Kelly grew up in the Mississippi Delta. She is from Greenville, graduated from Delta State University, and then graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. She has served in three churches, most recently at 4,000 member Silverdale Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Already, Kelly is doing a super job integrating herself into the community and building important relationships.
- We have secured job opportunities that will be available shortly for residents of Jonestown. One of the most difficult things we do is create jobs that will pay each month. Through a partnership with a Ridgeland, MS based company we have a number of jobs in Jonestown through which we will be employing people very soon.
- We have established partnerships with Ole Miss and Jackson State University and we’ll be seeking other university partnerships as well. At Ole Miss, we’ve partnered with the McLean Institute and at Jackson State we’ve partnered with professors and students from the Civil Engineering Department who will help with the construction of the Hope Center.
What will we be doing in Jonestown? How will we seek to make a difference? How can others be involved? Our approach to sustainable community development will be different from other efforts.
The federal government and others have poured billions of dollars into the Delta with mixed results, at best. What makes our approach different?
- Christ-centered – We believe God provides not only eternal salvation but also the way in which we should live our lives today. When we live as He has instructed, life is better, more productive, and more fulfilling.
- Holistic – We don’t address one or two issues. Instead, we look at 7 key areas, or SPHERES, that we believe are necessary to have a healthy community. All of these spheres will be addressed in Jonestown. These areas are:
- S – spiritual (strong, healthy, life-giving churches)
- P – physical (medical and dental)
- H – H20 (clean water)
- E – education
- R – roofs (housing)
- E – economic development (jobs)
- S – soil (agriculture/access to healthy food)
- Mississippi based – We are a Mississippi based organization that has a better understanding of the history, challenges, and opportunities we face.
- Boots-on-the-ground/permanent presence – We believe in moving into the community and becoming part of the fabric of the town. It’s hard to be salt and light where you have no presence. It’s difficult to plan, implement, and maintain opportunities in a place where you only visit occasionally. We’re not going anywhere. We’re here for the long haul.
- Weekly teams – We believe strongly in hosting visiting teams. Teams bring support, encouragement, ideas, and resources. We will have visiting teams most weeks during the year.
- Collaboration – We believe the combination of churches, universities, and private businesses is a recipe for success. Each entity brings something unique and the combination of all three is a powerful force for change.
Specifically, we will be seeking to bring jobs, open a medical clinic, open a dental clinic, provide affordable new housing, bring a grocery store, bring banking services, revive and improve the downtown storefronts, beautify the town, partner with the local elementary school to make it as successful as possible, and partner with local churches to share the gospel and make disciples, among other things.
The next big step will be the construction of the Hope Center in Jonestown. Thousands of
people who have been to our Hope Centers in Haiti know the significance of the Hope Centers. It is from the Hope Center that all of our ministry efforts will flow.
The Hope Center will be approximately 4,800 square feet and will contain dorm space for 40 people along with showers and restrooms. There will be a kitchen, dining area, and large meeting space where mission teams and others will gather each night to meet, plan, and pray. There will be office space for our Community Manager. We have secured a recently retired builder who has volunteered to serve as our general contractor. In the weeks ahead we will make it known how, and when, teams can register for a mission trip beginning next summer.
The cost for the new Hope Center, using some volunteer labor and some donated supplies, will be approximately $240,000. Three individuals and a church partner have already stepped forward to provide $105,000. Now, we are asking our BGM supporters to help provide the remaining $135,000.
Would you be willing to give to help us establish this important headquarters for our work in the Mississippi Delta? You did it one other time when we built our second Hope Center in Thoman, Haiti. You gave, we built it, and God has used that Hope Center to make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of Haitians. I believe with all my heart He is going to do the same thing here in the Mississippi Delta.
How can you give?
- Enclosed is a card and a return envelope. You can place the card and a check in that return envelope and mail it to BGM.
- You can give online at www.butgodministries.com/how-to-get-involved/give-online.
Thank you for your support over the years. Thank you for praying about this new work in the Delta and for considering a gift to help build the new Hope Center.
Can’t Wait To See What God Does Next,