Negotiating with Gangs

The past few days have been excruciating. We have felt so helpless here. But “excruciating” does not even begin to describe what it has been like for people in Haiti. People are running out of food and water and gas while gangs and protestors continue to hold the whole country hostage and literally rip it apart and burn it. It is time. It is time to call upon all prayer warriors and make clear the urgency for the need for prayer. Haiti will one day be restored back to normal, and we will return to our call of ministering to the people of our village as we always have, but right now…. RIGHT NOW WE ALL MUST RECOGNIZE THE NEED TO BE ON OUR KNEES IN PRAYER!!!

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When Tony and I left Haiti on September 16th, it was starting to heat up. The day after we left, the heat turned up a bit more. By Monday, September 21, it was cranked up in full force. At this point, it is utter chaos. When things get hot like this (and this is worse than we have ever seen it), a million things start darting through my mind, but the primary concern I feel is for LyniaNara. Her life depends on being able to travel to and from Port au Prince for dialysis. When things are like this, her travel becomes impossible.

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LyniaNara

LyniaNara has a routine, and situations like this disrupt that routine and her body begins to shut down. A normal week for LyniaNara is not easy, but it is necessary for her to survive. She leaves her house at 3 am with her father to head to a dialysis center in Canapé Vert above Port au Prince every Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday. It takes two hours to get there, four hours spent on dialysis, and another two hours to get back home. If all goes smoothly, she gets home in time to get ready for school which starts at 1. Over the last few months, her routine has gone very smoothly and she has been looking soooo healthy. She beamed with excitement the day she came to pick up her uniform for school. It was the same uniform we had made for her two years ago when she was so sick she wasn’t able to start school. She has missed two years of school because of her kidney failure. This year, it fit her perfectly except for the length. Two years…and she is as small as she was when she was 12 only taller. But the smile on her face was electrifying. It was a good day.

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Today, however, is NOT a good day. On September 21st, I checked on LyniaNara, and her sister, Daphka, told me that she was able to get to her dialysis clinic that day with no problem. I told Daphka to let me know if they have any difficulty in the days ahead. On Sunday, Daphka texted me and said they could not find gas to prepare to go to dialysis on Tuesday. The search began for an ambulance that could go get her immediately. I was hoping this would be easy, but it was not. Most likely, if we managed to get LyniaNara to the dialysis center, she would need to stay nearby for the rest of the week so that she could return for more dialysis, so I reached out to the expat community looking for a place for her to stay. We contacted the guest house where she stayed last time the country locked down, but HERO Rescue said that would be too far from her dialysis center for them to get her there. After hours of searching and inquiring, a Haitian doctor contacted me named Dr. Junior Etienne. He works with MSPP and he began looking for a a guest house that was closer. He managed to find one that was a short walking distance from the dialysis center. Whew! This was a relief! Now to figure out how to get her there…

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LyniaNara getting dialysis at Alliance the last time she was critical

All day Sunday, we worked with HERO and CAN and Dr. Etienne on trying to find someone who could get her to the dialysis center. Because of the gang that has been terrorizing anyone and everyone on the highway between Croix des Bouquet and Ganthier (our city), we could not find anyone willing to take her and we couldn’t find any ambulance service that could come out to get her. The roads were filled with debris from protests and burning tires, and gangs were shooting at any vehicle trying to pass through.

Everyone was paralyzed. Daphka said that LyniaNara was hanging in there, but her feet were starting to swell. Daphka went to Hope Center to ask Didier to get some lasix from the pharmacy. He got her fixed up and that bought her a bit more time…

Monday, we continued to work on finding a way to get LyniaNara to dialysis. We called HERO Rescue, CAN Ambulance Service, and even looked for possible helicopters that could come. No luck… We were hopeful when Daphka texted and said that CAN Ambulance service had called her and told her to get ready that they were going to try to come get her. I told her to go to Hope Center and ask Didier to charge her phone and give her money and food for the trip and stay at the guesthouse. He instructed her to divide up her money and hide it in various places. Reserve 5000 gds in her bag to use as bribe money in case they run into any gangs on the way demanding payment for passage. Didier took care of everything. We waited….. and waited…… no ambulance. We later found out that one of the CAM Ambulances had been ambushed while on another call and the vehicle was torn completely up. Their other ambulance had no tires left because of hitting debris in the streets. The ambulance was not coming.

LyniaNara’s health was declining rapidly. I checked back with HERO as well as Doctor Etienne and both said that the roads were just too dangerous to ask anyone to travel and it was the same on my end. We had just gotten word that Dieudonne, our orphanage administrator, had tried to go get food for the kids at the orphanage and was ambushed by the gangs as he tried to enter the highway. The truck was shot five times and windows shot out. Dieudonne managed to get away, but he had to leave the truck. The gang seized the truck.  We eventually found the truck and negotiated to get it back. We knew at that point that there was no hope of getting LyniaNara out.

This morning, I was awakened by a steady ding on my telephone as one text after another started coming through. Didier was texting me to say that LyniaNara was in bad shape. Dr. Etienne was texting me to see if we had come up with another plan. Alex, the owner of the dialysis center was texting to see if I had heard from LyniaNara. Everyone was worried and none of us knew what to do. I began to pray, “Oh God, help me figure this out! Show us the way!!” Then it hit me! We negotiated with the gang to get our truck back; perhaps we could negotiate with the gang to let us through with LyniaNara. After making some calls, we managed to get the gang to agree to let our driver pass through in our shot up truck with LyniaNara and take her as far as Croix des Bouquet. We would have to pay the gang 5000 gds to get safe passage. 5000 gds….. That is the exact amount Daphka had put in her bag for negotiation. God reminded me that He goes before us….

I called Dr. Etienne and he began making arrangements to meet our driver in our truck in Croix des Bouquet. I contacted Daphka and told her to be ready, reminding her of Isaiah 41:10 that says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” She sent a picture of her and LyniaNara in the truck getting ready to head to Croix des Bouquet. We are now praying that God hold them all in his “righteous right hand” and give them safe passage to the dialysis center and give our driver safe passage back to Hope Center. They all must pass through very dangerous areas.

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LyniaNara and Daphka in the truck getting ready to pass through the gangs to get to the dialysis clinic

We are now calling out to everyone we know that believes in the power of God to move mountains. Please pray for their safety to get to the dialysis center. Please pray that the dialysis can restore LyniaNara to good health. Pray that the girls remain safe in the guesthouse in the days to come. Pray that Meresse and Elorge can return safely to Hope Center. THANK GOD for people like Didier, Elorge, Meresse, Dieudonne, Dr. Etienne, HERO, CAN, and countless other brave people who are doing all they can to maintain things while the country falls apart.

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Dr. Etienne now has LyniaNara and Daphka with him and they are heading up to Canapé Vert to the dialysis center

Pray that Haiti will be restored to peace and that people can find the food and provisions they need to return to normal life. Pray for God to move over all aspects of this time of chaos in Haiti. Oh God, please move!!

We wait on the Lord and we pray and trust that order will be restored to Haiti soon and we can get back to doing what God called us all to do. Haiti is a BEAUTIFUL place with AMAZING and RESILIENT people. I look forward to the day when Tony and I can return and embrace the people who have worked so hard to maintain life as best they can in this situation. They are HEROES.

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Be Still My Heart

Over the past three weeks, I have had a lot of time. Normally, time is something I DO NOT have a lot of. Our daily lives are usually very hectic and pulled in a thousand different directions. However, when Tony and I left on June 6th to go to Fort Lauderdale, FL, for a quick anniversary weekend, we had no idea that our little get away would turn into a three-week+ hiatus. We left on June 6th and have had to cancel 3 return flights already because we were advised that it wasn’t safe to return yet. So here we wait….(I’m not a fan of sitting.)

I have asked the Lord many time why we have not been allowed to return to our mission in Haiti during this time. I have watched from afar as other missionary friends of ours have continued to carry on their work in places not far from ours, and I ask, “Lord, why is it they can be there and we can’t?” Although I have seen and heard accounts of the political turmoil Haiti is in and the violence that has ensued as a result, I still ask God why?! Why can’t we just hunker down and wait it out? Why do we have to sit over here waiting and doing nothing? Why have so many teams had to cancel…again? Why? Why? Why?!!!!!

Then the Lord quietly speaks to my spirit and He just says, “Trust me, and pray.”

So every day my first prayer is, “Lord help me to trust You!”

Here we are in the middle of a huge campaign to build a new school, build over 140 desks, 15 chalk boards, purchase teacher desks, filing cabinets, chairs, cooking equipment, and the list goes on and on… and at the same time, teams can’t come in and help! When the flow of teams stops, they use the funds they raised to recover their financial losses or redirect them to another mission, and that leaves our little village standing here with our hands held out, reaching towards Heaven for provision, tears running down our cheeks, begging God to help us trust HIM to provide. …and He asks, “Is that such a bad thing?” ….I am broken. After all, who has provided every other blessing we have received for this village over the last 7 years? Where is my faith? Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” This is a promise that I have learned to COUNT on, and yet I still get anxious.

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We KNOW that God has led us to this point of building our own school. And we KNOW that God moved people even before we began the campaign to contribute to the construction of the school. We’ve been walking on water here!! We know that God has continued to move people to help and support…and yet I get anxious! I begin to sink. Why? …and God says, “THIS is the question you should be asking. WHY do you get anxious?!” His word says, ““Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (Psalm 46:10). YES!! This school WILL honor Him! So I pray for His Holy Spirit to still my heart. I pray that no anxiety be allowed to stir my spirit, but that my full trust and faith in Him cause my spirit to be steadfast and calm. …and I pray that He continue to move people to give and support and pray so that HE may be glorified even in these hard times.

The enemy wants me to become disappointed and lose faith. The enemy wants me to worry when I post a request for child sponsors and only two people respond. The enemy wants my disappointment to shake my faith in God’s ability to move His people when I look a the huge financial deficit this political turmoil has brought upon our ability to carry on the very basic tasks set before us. My heart breaks when I have to tell a teenager who lost her sponsor that she can’t go to school next year if she doesn’t get a sponsor. So I don’t tell her. I just pray and ask God to move someone out there to choose her. “But what if they make excuses and don’t choose her?” I ask God. Again, His response is “TRUST ME. I know who to move.”

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So to answer my first question of WHY we are here, He reminds me that HE is God and that I must be still and trust Him….and pray. Will you join me in praying for God to continue to move in our little village and to provide all of the resources needed to build this school, sponsor these kids, and pay our staff to carry on the work needed to be done even when we can’t be there? Will you step out of the boat in faith with me and ask God how He wants to use you? Walking on water can be amazing and a bit scary at the same time, but when we step out in faith to His call, and we realize, “Hey! I’m WALKING ON WATER HERE….WITH JESUS!” Then it gets to be pretty exciting! Just look…….

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So these are my biggest concerns right now, and they are the reason I pour out my heart in words on this post. I can’t look at others and compare my own situation to theirs. I shouldn’t ask why God has me here while they are there and let the enemy turn my questions to anxiety. I simply must focus my eyes and thoughts on God’s guidance and His abundance of provision. I’m here to wait on Him and to TRUST Him. And pretty soon, He’s going to have me walking on water with him again. I can’t wait to get my feet wet!

Here are ways you can help:

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PRAY –

  • Pray that God will move in the political situation in Haiti.
  • Pray that God will continue to provide for the building and opening of the school.
  • Pray that He will speak through us as we have difficult conversations with local leaders.
  • Pray that He will replace lost revenue due to team cancellations so that we can continue to pay the staff that is currently running things in our absence.
  • Pray that He will provide leadership and healing in the local church at Hope Center.

SUPPORT –

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Their Hope Will NOT be Shaken!

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Every year, high school students all over Haiti gather at designated locations to take a three-day National exam, and it determines whether or not they can pass to the next grade. It is an extremely important exam. Over the last three years, our students have significantly raised the bar in the Ouest Department gaining national recognition for their impressive results.

This year, BGM High School has about 50 students taking the exam. Of the 50, 39 are sponsored. Their sponsors paid for their exam and they even received scientific calculators to use on Wednesday when they take the mathematics portion. They have worked so hard to prepare for this test. They have gone to study groups every weekend for months. We are so proud of them. We are praying for much success!

Sadly, the country of Haiti has been in disarray again over the last few weeks. The opposition groups that want to remove the president from office are funding gangs to wreak havoc upon the country to force the president to resign. A few days ago, they announced that they would shut down the roads this week with fire, rocks, and much violence in order to prevent students from being able to attend the exams. Last night, I texted our Superintendent, Moliere Arcel, and asked him if our students were going to be able to attend theirs. He said that the exams had not been cancelled, and the students were making plans to go. Today, I was told that Dieudonne and Bicly left early this morning to the testing site for Bicly to take his exam. I continued praying……

We all know how much pressure big comprehensive exams are. Can you imagine how difficult it is to concentrate on an exam while knowing there could be a gang of thugs outside trying to shut it down? Can you imagine knowing that your entire year of school depends on this one exam and there are citizens from your own country trying to block it? My heart just breaks…. Please pray for our precious students as well as all students across Haiti who are taking this exam in spite of the odds against them. They are so brave. Their hope WILL NOT be shaken!

……Please join me in praying for our students. Please continue to pray for peace in Haiti. Pray for clarity and pray for safety. It’s hard to know what is true and what is not true in situations like this. The ones who suffer the most in times like these are the ones who suffer daily under the oppression of a grossly lopsided economic divide. These are our friends and Haitian family. They carry on knowing that God is their provider and He is in control. What amazing faith they have!! Join me in covering them in prayer, please.

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It begins with a click….

One thing we as Americans take for granted is the availability of education. For most of us, whether or not our child will be able to go to school each year has never been a concern to cross our minds. School is compulsory, and it’s just a natural part of every American child’s life. This is not the case in Haiti. Although there are public schools, they aren’t really free, and parents have to pay for transportation to get them there. For villages that are not on the main roads with easy access to transportation, the only choice for education is the small, private school in the village. These private schools are dependent upon tuition to pay their teachers and pay for supplies to run the school. Most families in remote villages with little income cannot afford to pay this tuition, so the result is hundreds of kids not going to school and many small private schools with inadequate facilities and teaching staff.
God led us to change this situation for the children of the village of Galette Chambon, Haiti, where we live. It all began with the BGM Child Sponsorship Program. It has totally revolutionized education in our village. No longer do children in our village have to worry about whether or not they can go to school. They no longer have to take turns between siblings going to school because their parents can only afford to send one child at a time. As long as we can find sponsors, these kids can go to school for free. This is a huge miracle!
Our BGM Child Sponsorship program has been going on now for about five years, and as the years tick by, sponsorships change hands. As this school year comes to an end, we have a significantly long list of students in the program who have lost their sponsor for one reason or another, and they now need a new one in order to continue with school in the Fall. We have not notified their parents yet because we would really prefer to find a new sponsor before it comes to that. If you have ever considered sponsoring a child, please check out our website and pray about sponsoring one of these children. It’s only $37/month and every single penny of the money goes to the child’s education. BGM does not use one cent of sponsorship money for administrative costs. Your sponsorship pays for the child’s tuition, uniform, books, backpack, supplies, a hot meal every day for ALL students, teacher salaries, school supplies, school improvements, and the list goes on and on…but it ALL goes to the school.
Please consider sponsoring one of these children today! I really don’t want to have to go to any of these children and tell them they can’t go to school next year because they lost their sponsor. Some have been sponsored for five years now. Surely there are people out there who have felt led but just haven’t done it yet. Today is the day…. It begins with a click:

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West Family Newsletter, April 2019

I usually send this newsletter out in February each year, but this year it has taken me a bit longer to manage to get it done. My apologies for the delay, but I am excited to share so much good news with all of you!! Please click the link below to open the newsletter. I also provide a jpeg attachment of it below too.

Newsletter April 2019

Please be praying for us as we return to Haiti next week. We begin hosting our first team of the busy team season starting May 4th, and we pretty much have back to back teams coming until the middle of August. We are super excited about serving with all of the teams that have made plans to come and we will be praying for everyone as they plan and prepare!!

Thank you for taking the time to read our Newsletter!

Blessings!

Tony & Mickie

Newsletter April 2019

Newsletter April 2019 pg 2

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Betsy and the Bread of Life

Today I want to share with you a story. Some of you may already know this story, but other do not. It’s Betsy’s story, but it is also the story of countless other children in Haiti who have suffered the nightmare of malnutrition.

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Betsy was our first experience with infant malnutrition about six years ago. God used Betsy to set us on a pathway to eventually opening our own malnutrition center, Pen Lavi. When Betsy came to us, she was six months old and weighed six pounds. She had become very sick, stopped eating, and was wasting away. Her family didn’t know what to do for her, so they brought her to us for help. At the time, we had no idea of what to do, so we reached out for help through the Expat Community on Facebook. There is a medical page there that we often use to reach out for help from medical professionals across the country. Someone immediately suggested we contact Brittany Pierre who was running a malnutrition center down in Bel Anse (about 6 hours from us). I wrote to Brittany and she was flying in from the US and said we could meet her at the airport and she would take Betsy and her mom to her place for care. Over the next few weeks, Betsy had to go into the hospital multiple times as her fragile little body fought hard to stay alive. After multiple miracles, she made it. Today Betsy is a happy, thriving young girl who loves to help others and loves Jesus more than life itself.

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After Brittany took Betsy in, other families began to bring their malnourished babies to us for help. It seemed to be a constant, endless flow of desperate mamas trying to find a way to help their babies survive. We knew we could not continue to take these babies six hours away from their families. We found another malnutrition center that was closer, but it was still 3 hours away. As God continued to grow our understanding of malnutrition, He also grew our desire to open a center of our own that could meet the needs of these families closer to where they live. At the time, Rachel Charpie was working as a two-year intern at our children’s home. I had done some research and was putting together some forms and spreadsheets of the patients we had already had, but I knew that this was more than I could take on myself. I asked Rachel if she might be interested in taking on the challenge. She immediately said YES! God had already begun preparing her heart for the next step He wanted to take with her in her Haiti journey. Rachel had started leading a boy’s Bible study in our house on Saturdays. She practiced her diagnostic skills on them by going through all the tests and measurements required to diagnose someone with malnutrition. Most of the boys in the group were clinically malnourished. She started them on a nutritional regime that would get them to their optimal weight and size and within months, they were all released from the program.

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In the meantime, Rachel started seeing more and more patients in our clinic though her out-patient malnutrition program, but those who needed more intensive care were still having to go to a clinic 3 hours away. We began to pray for God to provide a place where we could offer inpatient care so that we wouldn’t have to send them so far away. God answered our prayers in every detail when He led us to the place where we would open Pen Lavi (Bread of Life) Malnutrition recovery center.

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Since the first day we opened the center, Rachel and her amazing staff have treated over 80 children who were severely malnourished. Not all have survived, but those that did not just came to us at a point when it was too late to survive or they had other medical problems that complicated it too much. These children that are taken in at Pen Lavi are given love and nurturing and nutrition that turns their little bodies and spirits from sickly and scared to healthy and happy just like Betsy. Their mamas are encouraged to stay with them there at the center so that they can not only give their child love and nurturing, but also learn about their child’s nutrition and health needs.

You see, malnutrition doesn’t necessarily mean “starving”; it more often means “bad nutrition.” It means that the child may have been eating, but he or she was only eating rice or bread and wasn’t getting a proper diet to provide the nutrients the body needs to grow and stay healthy. Complications develop in the body that put the child on a downward spiral to death. Organs start to shut down, and the child develops a syndrome called Kwashiokor that can quickly become lethal. We have treated many children with this problem over the last year in our center.

The miracles we see God perform in our midst daily at Pen Lavi are astounding. However, because the center doesn’t have a source of creating income to pay the medical staff and provide the medicines, medical care, and food the children need to recover, we have to raise those funds. We would like for Rachel to be able to focus completely on running the center without having to worry about whether or not the center can continue to be open because of budget issues. This is why we have decided to have an annual fundraiser called Food for Life where we raise all of her budget for the year and she and her staff can continue to provide the care all of these children need to survive like Betsy has. Our prayer is for every child that enters our doors to receive the absolute best possible care we can give them.

We would like for you to pray about helping us do that. Please join us at the Food for Life fundraiser dinner on May 2nd, 2019 buy purchasing a ticket for $45 and/or participating in our silent auction. The auction will be live at the event and online as well. Bidding will actually start online on April 25th. You can go to the But God Ministries Facebook page to learn more about the event or go to this link:  Food for Life fundraising event Your support truly provides Food for Life! Thank you, and God Bless!!

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God is at work in Haiti….

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As I sit here still answering messages that have come to me over the last 24 hours, my heart is hopeful as many, many people are joining us in prayer for Haiti. Monday night around midnight, when I went to bed, I checked my phone to make sure it was not on silent in case Tony called and then put it on the night stand to go to sleep. I checked it occasionally throughout the night for updates on what was going on in Haiti, and then around 5:00 am, my phone began to “ding” over and over….and over again. Between text messages and inbox messages, I had over 63 messages from people expressing concern. As more and more people started seeing people, groups, and organizations in Haiti post about the political demonstrations going on over there, I found myself spending the whole morning answering questions about our perspective on the situation. One of my missionary friends over there was sending me pictures of things she had seen or others had seen going on in the city, and I realized that this is not just a political situation, it’s spiritual. Haiti needs prayer. Right now, the forces that are wreaking havoc are powered by the enemy. Their intentions are evil. They are using the oppression and desperate condition of the masses to bring about political upheaval that will only benefit the wealthy and once again ignore those in need. But God….

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But our God is more powerful. He loves Haiti, and He loves the ones who are being daily oppressed and their condition ignored. This is why He called us there, to minister to the oppressed. And now He is calling us all to prayer. He is more powerful than the one making a mess of things over there, and we CLAIM Haiti, by the power of God, for CHRIST! He WILL move, and He WILL establish peace again there soon so that we can continue to serve Him by helping the people of our village.

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God’s word is FILLED with not suggestions but commands to minister to those in need. Look for yourself. Do a search in the Word about poverty and helping others. Over the last two days I have found myself reading Psalms and Proverbs, asking God to use His word to embolden my spirit. He has done that. Proverbs 31: 8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” God loves them and calls us to serve Him in ministry to them. The poor in Haiti deserve a chance, and God’s plan for them has not changed. In our village, people don’t seek luxury, but they do want to be able to send their kids to school, get dependable medical care, find ways to establish their own businesses, grow and harvest their fields for food and market, worship together in peace, and move about the country easily and affordably as they go about their daily lives. BGM as well as many of you have partnered with them over the years to help them do just this. Over the last 7 years, the improvements we have seen happen in the lives of people in our village are enormous! Thousands of people have come to our village to serve with us and love on our people. This WILL NOT CHANGE. As it is God’s will, it will continue! As David cried in Psalm 35:10,  I cry out too: “My whole being will exclaim, ‘Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.'” When I read Psalm 113:5-8, “Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people” the words that stuck out to me were ASH HEAP. Here I picture the piles of smoldering ash in the streets of Haiti after the burning tires have lost their flames and the people have returned to their lives. God reminds me, “I am on the throne, I see the pain, and I WILL MOVE.” The flames will smolder out, and the needy will be lifted up and seated “with the princes of his people.”

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I needed this so, so much. My heart has been breaking and my spirit in panic as I envisioned once again the poor suffering because of the injustices of others as hundreds of Americans fear coming to the beautiful country where we serve. I  just don’t want to see that happen again. I want to see people joining us in ministry to the ones we have grown to love so much. I have thought about LyniaNara needing medical care, and Mr. Saintus and Mdm Dorsainvil needing their blood pressure medicine. It hurts my heart to know Mr. Milfort can’t make his almost daily hike from Ganthier to Hope Center to visit with us. I cry as I envision all of the children in our village unable to attend school, growing more and more hungry because the food trucks are unable to pass through barricades in the city to deliver food.  I have found myself on my knees, just crying uncontrollable tears to God. ….then it hit me!

God said, “This is where I want you right now.” He reminded me of Psalm 146:5-9 where He says, “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” God is watching over us. He is the maker of heaven, earth, sea….and Haiti. Haiti is HIS. She is not mine, or yours, or anyone else’s. She belongs to God, and He wants us to BOW DOWN and pray for the ways of the wicked to be “frustrated.” He will protect the foreigners and sustain those we serve. It’s happening right now. He WILL lift Haiti up again. We WILL serve normally there again, and soon. This confusion is only for a short season as He stirs things up and moves people to once again turn to Him.

So now for the elephant in the room. Many people have called and written to me as well as the BGM office and asked, “What do we do now? Do we continue making plans to come to Haiti to serve?” The answer is OF COURSE, WE DO!! The called of God don’t let the wickedness of the enemy hijack God’s plan and rob those to whom we minister. We don’t allow the enemy to manifest fear in our hearts and chase us away from our call. We are cautious and practical, of course, as we believe God would have us be, but we do not, WILL NOT, abandon the call. God is clearly not finished with the work He called us to. The many thousands of other believers who join together as the body of Christ to minister to those in need in Haiti are STILL CALLED. This time of upheaval is a call to prayer, to REAL faith in God’s power to move among the people of Haiti as they once again turn to Him and rise out of the grip of the enemy. Before we know it, the streets are going to be open again, businesses are going the be thriving again, schools are going to be teaching again, and WE – the Body of Christ – are going to get up off our knees refreshed and renewed and ready to be His hands and feet to this beautiful nation to continue the work He called us to.

Anyone who has ever lived in Haiti knows how one week you can be lifting your eyes up to a beautiful sky filled with a fresh, ocean breeze rustling the palm fonds, and the next week the air can be filled with the smoke of burning tires.  It’s a third world country. Oppressed people are easily influenced and enflamed by corruption. To serve full-time in a country like this, one must build relationships with trusted people who also have influence around the country, who will spring into action when things get rough. One must utilize multiple sources to be aware of conditions all throughout the country. One must have plans in place for keeping people safe while they serve as well as give safe evacuation in cases of emergency.  God has blessed But God Ministries with all of these things. We will not allow a group to come into the country if we do not feel it is safe to travel to our village. We will be in communication with every group that has booked a week on the calendar as that week approaches and we continue making plans for ministry.  As long as we can safely move these groups in and out, and as long as our Haitian staff can help us prepare, we will do so. We keep our eyes set on God and His plan for His ministry in Haiti. Can unpredictable events occur that are out of our control? Of course they can. Life is unpredictable. But we must remember that panic is not of God. Wisdom is. The plan of God is still at work and will continue on in His power, protection, and provision, and we will rest and trust in His will.

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Please join us in this call to prayer, and please continue making your plans. All of this uprising and chaos will be over soon, and life in Haiti will be no different than it was a few weeks ago when we were busy teaching ESL to village kids, educating expectant mothers, building houses, serving lunch to school kids, and seeing patients in medical clinic. Our prayer is that there will be one big difference though. Our prayer is that Haiti will have a renewed sense of the power of God and a new commitment to His will in their lives and the future of their nation.

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LyniaNara’s Story

Many, many people have asked for the story of our sweet renal failure patient, LyniaNara. If you want to know her story, sit back and have a read. So here goes…

When I met her, she was just another bright and energetic 5th grader at one of our sponsor schools. She loved to laugh and jump rope, sing with her friends and EAT! You couldn’t tell it from her tiny frame, but boy did she love to eat! She was mischievous and loved to play pranks too. She was just a normal girl, living a simple life in a tiny village in Haiti. Her friends called her “Lynia,” but I always loved calling her by her full name “LyniaNara” because it had a certain ring to it that reminded me of a song. That’s what LyniaNara is…a happy song. Her joy is contagious…

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She moved on to sixth grade, and she and her friends enjoyed being the “seniors” at the primary school. They giggled at the boys, protected the kindergartners, and bossed around the fourth and fifth grade girls because, well, they could! This was their last year at “the orange” school, and soon she and her friends would move up to the BGM High School, and they would switch to the more prestigious blue uniforms.

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LyniaNara moved on up to seventh grade, but her spark had begun to fade. She was always very tired and wanted to sleep instead of go to school. She cried because she wanted to go, but she didn’t feel good when she was there. She didn’t feel good no matter where she was. Her back hurt all the time, and she did not have an appetite. Food didn’t taste good to her for some reason. She tried to feel normal. She didn’t know what was wrong with her body. Her smile grew weak. It was as if her dark, sunken eyes were about to lure her into a deep tunnel. She was exhausted. Her parents knew she was not the energetic child she was so supposed to be, so they took her to the doctor.

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LyniaNara’s parents took her to see a doctor who ran a series of tests on her then referred her to a nephrologist. The nephrologist admitted her to the hospital and had more tests run. By the time they figured out that LyniaNara was in the advanced stages of kidney failure, her parents had spent almost $2000 US. They had borrowed from friends in their church and sold livestock to pay the hospital bills, but at this point they were tapped out. The doctor explained what it would take to keep her alive, and it sounded to them like an impossible future. Someone suggested they go to Hope Center and talk to us here about the situation. If BGM couldn’t help, they had already prepared themselves to accept the fact that, without a miracle, their baby girl was going to die. But God….

After talking with LyniaNara’s family about the situation, we began to pray that God would show us what to do. We consulted with But God Ministries CEO, Stan Buckley, and he said, “We can’t put a price on a 13 year old girl. We will ask God to provide and we will do what we can do to help her live.”  We had no idea where to begin. We reached out for advice on the Haiti Medical Facebook page and a doctor suggested that if our ultimate goal was kidney transplant, we should take LyniaNara to see a doctor in Haiti that had done several successful kidney transplants. We did just that, and held onto the hope that one day LyniaNara would return to a somewhat normal life. We made our first visit to  Hospital OFATMA in May.

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After talking to the doctor, a plan was made to try to manage her kidney disease with peritoneal dialysis because she could do this procedure at home and it would not be as expensive. Once she got into a routine with the dialysis, we could start testing family members for a tissue match and make plans for a kidney transplant. We scheduled the surgery for the port to be inserted and then we would proceed with learning to do the peritoneal dialysis. She was nervous but hopeful that this procedure would put her on a path towards a normal life. She was beginning to realize, however, that her idea of “normal” was going to be far from what she had always known. None of the other girls she knew would go to school every day with a tube in their stomach. None of the other girls would have to attach a bag of fluid to that tube and fill their belly every morning and night for the rest of their lives. None of the other girls had to swear off of salt, bananas, potatoes, avocados, or CHOCOLATE! She was only 13 and she LOVED to eat! Now she was having to accept that most of the foods she loved were poisonous to her body! It was a lot to think about. It was more than she was ready to face.

Since inserting the peritoneal catheter, LyniaNara began to get more and more sick. Her blood pressure was high and difficult to manage, possibly because she would often cheat on her diet. She would go on hunger strikes until her mother would give in and give her food with salt because, after all, Mom couldn’t sit there and watch her child starve herself to death! She needed to eat, and neither of them understood …so she would feed her the only food she knew how to make…normal food…with salt. What she didn’t realize, however, is that the salt that made this food taste so good to her baby girl was poisoning her blood and causing her blood pressure to rise dangerously high, her body would swell up like a balloon, and she would become dangerously weak.

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Between the months of May through September, LyniaNara spent most of the time in and out of the hospital fighting for her life. She spent many nights in the emergency room, and even more nights in a large room with 20 hospital beds filled with other sick people. Family members would take turns sitting with their loved ones, sharing stories with one another, going out to get food for their loved ones because the hospital didn’t provide food that they could eat. They would loan one another money to get medicines and tests that their doctors called for. Every week we would reload LyniaNara’s envelope with money, and as the money was spent, receipts took its place. LyniaNara’s mother and sister took turns caring for her, and I would run back and forth from the grocery store to the house and back to the hospital with food made with no salt because the family had no idea how to make food she could eat. We were all worn slam out. I sat with LyniaNara many times all day long so her mom and sister could get a break. One time, as we sat there trying to find things to talk about, a family three beds down began screaming and crying as the staff wheeled their loved one out to take him to the morgue. LyniaNara knew that this young man who had just died was fighting the same kidney disease she was fighting, only he had lost his battle. Fear filled her eyes as they passed by her bed. She watched in horror as the ghostly shape of the man’s figure draped in a white sheet brought chills to her spine and melted to despair. She slowly turned her face towards mine, looked straight into my eyes, then closed hers. A tear pressed its way out of the corner and created a dark, fluid path down her soft, mahogany cheek. My heart sank.

LyniaNara was finally moved to a patient holding room the hospital containing 20 beds,  Tony and I were preparing to go to the states, so I went over instructions with the family, explaining when to take each medication, how to measure her water intake, how to check her blood pressure, and who to call on for help while we were gone. We would be gone for three weeks, and the thought of her sinking down again and becoming septic made my heart tremble and my blood boil.

Sure enough, we returned to Haiti, and LyniaNara was septic again.  When I went to visit her in the hospitial, I was expecting to find her recovering, but instead she was deathly ill. This was the third time she had become severely septic since she began her peritoneal dialysis. Every treatment she had taken was given at the hospital, so I was very confused as to why she kept getting septic. Come to find out, they were doing the treatments without gloves! The doctor also told me that while we were gone, they had decided to switch her to hemodialysis because she was not responding well to the peritoneal. Her hemoglobin had dropped to 2.5 and she was near death.  The hospital explained that they had been out of dialysis supplies for over a week, so she had not received treatment as she should. The nurse pulled me to the side and said, “Ou bezwen pran li lot lopital paske l’ap mouri isit la.” (You need to take her to another hospital because she is going to die here.) I went into panic mode. My hands trembled as I frantically searched for the number to an ambulance service to come get her. I managed to get into contact with HERO Rescue service and they agreed to come get her. They advised me to take care of any outstanding balances at the hospital before they arrived because we urgently needed to get her out of there.

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I briskly made my way to the administrative office, weaving through the patients crowding the hallway in wheelchairs, wrapped in blood stained bandages. There were people sleeping on benches all along the walls, desperate and dying patients moaning and yelling for help from rooms along the way. My blood pressure was rising by the second. When I finally reached the office, I was in tears. I sat before the emotionless administrator trying to explain in my best Creole that I needed to settle up LyniaNara’s bill because we were taking her to another hospital for dialysis. She slowly thumbed through her files, occasionally glancing up at the soap opera on the tv overhead,  then finally she began to name off all of the treatments LyniaNara had received. She scribbled a figure on the paper. As I leaned forward and stared at the number, my heart began to tremble. I closed my eyes to keep my composure. It was going to cost $700 to get LyniaNara out of the hospital. Tony just to happened to have given me $600 just in case I needed it when I left Hope Center that morning. I knew there were going to be other charges when we changed hospitals, so I was going to have to muster up some courage to dispute this bill. I tried with all of my strength to find the words to calmly negotiate a lower bill. The administrator finally agreed to let me pay $500. I took the papers from her, ran to cashier, counted out the bills being careful not to let anyone around me see how much money I had. While paying, the paramedics passed me with LyniaNara’s stretcher and I motioned to them where to go. The cashier gave me the blue discharge paper I needed to exit the building, and I ran to catch up with the stretcher that was turning into her room.

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We made our way to the ambulance and lifted her in. I found myself praying out loud in Creole for God to spare her life and help us get to where we needed to go. She probably had minutes to live. My driver, Meresse, was waiting for us outside, so LyniaNara’s mother and sister and I jumped in and told him to follow the ambulance to Hospital L’Epoir. Traffic was horrific and Meresse tried desperately to keep up with the ambulance, but other vehicles were not letting him pass through. For a minute I thought we might die trying to get there.

When we finally arrived at the hospital, they had already unloaded LyniaNara and taken her to the ER. I knew I did not have the needed cash to pay for admission as well as the ambulance, so I explained to the driver the situation and he agreed to take a donation for gas in lieu of payment. “Thank you, God…” I whispered as I handed him 2500 gourdes which was about $40 at the time. After what seemed like an eternity and multiple confrontations with other patient family members who were afraid the “blan” was going to get special treatment, the doctor explained to us that she was going to have to go to another facility because there was no one at L’Espoir who could do the procedure. I called the ambulance to return to get us, they agreed, and within 30 minutes, we were loading LyniaNara back into the ambulance. When we arrived at the dialysis center, we discovered that we needed to get her to the second floor, and the elevator in the building was about the size of a laundry chute. The paramedics quickly switched to plan B, wrapped her in a sheet, and carried her up the stairs. The staff at the dialysis center immediately went to work getting LyniaNara hooked up to the machine. By this time, it was nearly 9:00 at night and we realized we had not eaten anything all day. I had two packs of crackers in my purse, so LyniaNara’s sister and mother and I shared them and prayed it would be enough to satisfy the hunger now that we had switched into waiting mode. The pediatric nephrologist who usually worked at L’Espoir had followed us to the dialysis center. I introduced myself and began to explain to her what all had happened. Come to find out, Dr. Exantus was the first doctor that LyniaNara’s parents had spoken to a year earlier. She was curious about why they had never brought her back to see her. I explained everything that had happened since their first visit and she was clearly very disappointed in their decision. At midnight, the dialysis was finished and we had to make a decision as to what to do next. The doctor said she needed to be transferred to a hospital for additional dialysis, treatment for sepsis, and she would need to be intubated. The ambulance returned for the third time to take her to Hospital Bernard Mevs. She was stable for now, but not out of the woods by a long shot.

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Once we arrived at Bernard Mevs, the team transferred her to the pediatric ICU and prepared for intubation. However, her father suddenly decided that he did not want a tube to be put in his daughter. The hospital staff explained to me that she would certainly die within the hour if she did not get intubated and treatments begin. I pulled her parents aside and tried to explain. I begged them to make a wise decision. If their choice remained to not intubate, she would be dead by morning unless God intervened otherwise. They calmed down and agreed to the intubation. The hospital staff quickly got back to work on her. They were losing time and were concerned that they might lose LyniaNara as well.

As I sunk down upon the black-gray, mud and grease covered curb amongst all the other long, tired faces, I leaned my head back against the cold, cinderblock wall and began to pour over the events of the last 24 hours. I could not believe that this precious 13 year old girl was again fighting for her life for the fourth time in one year. I felt my chest tighten, my shoulders began to heave, and as I drew in a deep breath, the tears began to flow uncontrollably. My body curled forward as I placed my face in my hands and pretended to sleep like everyone else, but inside the dark womb I had made for myself, I was crying out to God for a miracle. At 5:00 in the morning, I felt a gentle hand upon my back and was startled upright to find a doctor with soft, apologetic eyes searching my face for permission to break the silence. It was the chief of pediatrics coming to let me know that LyniaNara had made it through the night and I should go home. Her family had left long before and decided to let me sleep. My driver was asleep in the truck outside the gate doing what he often finds himself doing…waiting for me to decide to leave. I tapped on his window, he bolted upright, and scrambled to lift his seat and roll down the window. We headed home towards the sunrise as vendors along the route swept their curbs and prepared their booths for the day’s market. I was beyond exhausted.

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In the two weeks the followed, LyniaNara continued to improve. The hospital called saying it was time for LyniaNara to go home and she could return to the dialysis center for her treatments three times a week. As Meresse and I made our way through the maze of congested traffic through Port au Prince, I felt thankful that LyniaNara had made it through yet another nightmare of near-death trauma, but I also dreaded sitting down in another administrator’s office begging for grace on a hospital bill. Three hours later, we exited the hospital with LyniaNara in the back seat and a receipt for a $1500 hospital bill. I just kept praying to God to continue to provide. I reasoned that it was clear that God had rescued her from death over and over again, so I must continue to trust that the funds would continue to be there. I fought against worry in the back of my mind while clinging to the memory of the many  miracles experienced so far.

Knowing absolutely nothing about hemodialysis, I was a little confused when the doctor called us two weeks later explaining that her temporary port had come out for the second time and we needed to pay $300 to have it reinstalled. Her doctor said that she was in the hospital having a new port put in, but we would have to pay for it to get her out. She also explained that LyniaNara seriously needed to get her fistula installed because we could not just keep reinstalling this temporary port. I had no idea what a fistula was, but it didn’t sound easy or cheap. The doctor said she had heard that a surgical team was currently at a hospital not 3 miles from us and they “just so happened” to have an endovascular surgeon on the team whose specialty was installing fistulas! I quickly assured her we would send her the money for the port that day, hung up the phone, and grabbed the keys to the truck. I was going to that hospital to find this surgeon. Once I arrived at the hospital, I asked around until I found the unit where the visiting team was operating. The surgeon was in surgery, but they agreed to send him out as soon as he was finished. Two hours later, he came out of the double doors and greeted me with a smile. I explained the whole story to him, and he said to have LyniaNara at the hospital by 6 the next morning and he would do the surgery for free. ….for free!! Oh my gosh, Hallelujah! I resisted the urge to hug him since he didn’t know me from Adam.

The next morning, we arrived at the hospital early, and LyniaNara was the first patient on the surgical list. She received her fistula, entertained the whole surgical staff with her sweet smile, and we headed home that afternoon. Praise God for His provision and yet another miracle!!

Fast forward five months. LyniaNara has been going to the dialysis center three times a week now and getting stronger and stronger. She is using her fistula in dialysis, and it is holding up well. We still don’t know what the future holds, but we know God has a plan. We are hoping that her family will begin testing soon for a donor match and we can start the process of getting her on a list for transplant. The dialysis center has agreed to only charge $40 for each dialysis treatment, which is a huge discount, but since she has it 3 times a week, we are looking at about $500 a month for her dialysis, plus another $250 a month for transportation, and $100 a month for additional medicines. We have no idea how much her doctor is going to charge, as we have not received a bill from her yet. The dialysis center did say that if we could find someone in the states that would start sending them some of the supplies they use daily in their center, we could trade that out for treatments, so we are looking for donors now. We are also researching St. Jude to see if we can get her to the states for her kidney transplant once we find out if anyone in her family is a match.

Please join us as we pray for God to continue to guide us down the needed paths to get sweet LyniaNara back to a somewhat normal life. She yearns for friends and school and the brisk, sun-kissed air on her face as she walks through the village with other girls. If you know of anyone with access to dialysis supplies that might be willing to partner with her dialysis center, share her story and get them in touch with me. If you feel led to help contribute to her medical expenses, you can do so at http://www.butgodministries.com and earmark it for LyniaNara benevolence. If you have connections with anyone at St. Jude who could help guide us through the process of getting a foreign patient admitted, please forward them her story and get them in touch with me. I know that God has a plan for her, and He wants to use many, many people to come together to do a miracle. I don’t know yet who those people are, but God does, and I trust that He will call them to action as soon as I….hit…publish.

God bless you all. Thank you for reading LyniaNara’s story.

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A Generation Changing…..

When God called Tony and me to move to Haiti as missionaries with But God Ministries, He spoke to Tony’s heart saying, “I want to use you to change a generation.” Of course, we had no idea what that meant or how that would happen, but we trusted that eventually He would show us how, when, where, etc. ….and He has!!

It didn’t take long before we started realizing that the schools we began forming a relationship with were the key to “changing a generation!” Of course, it wasn’t easy, but as we began to work closely with the principals of the schools and dream big along with them, we started embracing a vision that God had in mind all along!

These pictures are from our first year working with the two schools known as Mixte Maranatha (Salomon’s school) and Mixte MEBEA (Johel’s school). The walls of Maranatha were sticks and tin. The interior walls were the rickety chalk boards that faced the makeshift desks, creating separate classes. At MEBEA, all but two classes met inside the one big room of the church and two classes were created outside on the back wall of the church, and those two classrooms were made of sticks and tin and the same rickety chalkboards. Very few children could afford uniforms or books. Most couldn’t afford tuition, so the school, in turn, couldn’t afford improvements. They couldn’t even hardly pay their teachers… but the directors, Salomon and Johel, wanted the children of this village who could not afford an education otherwise to be able to attend school. These two schools had a reputation of being the “poor schools,” but they did the best they could with what they had. But God had something bigger in mind…..

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God began providing resources for us to use by moving people to give towards our education programs in our village. We started by first helping Salomon pay for books for his students and raising his teachers’ salaries. We began helping Johel’s school by sending all of the new children who had recently moved into the houses BGM built on “the hill” behind Hope Center, and paying a tuition for them. We also gave them uniforms bought from a uniform company in the US and we bought books for his school too. We thanked God for His provision, and we began to pray that God would give us wisdom and provision to grow these schools to something better.

Meanwhile, God had begun to move us to help boost the economy by creating businesses here. One of those businesses was a sewing business. We met Henry, our main tailor, through the birth of his twin boys and our English classes. When it was time to start the sewing business, he began to work with our seamstress Ruth, and they now have a booming business of sewing uniforms and other needs throughout the village. The children began to feel like they were going to a real school because they had new uniforms. They knew they looked good, so they felt good, and they learned more. The schools were one step closer to being REAL schools!

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In order to maintain the ability to help children go to school and make improvements, we realized we MUST create a constant income for the schools. There was already a sponsorship program going on up in Thoman, so we asked how that worked, came up with a plan for sponsorship in Galette Chambon and launched it! The response was tremendous!! We were able to begin making plans for increasing enrollment significantly, giving teachers a fair wage, making more capital improvements, etc. But our dream didn’t stop there! It was God’s idea, and our desire, to begin a feeding program in the schools so that children would no longer struggle to learn with empty bellies. We wanted to grow the sponsorship program to a point when every child at the school would get a hot meal every day, including holidays and during the summer! People prayed with us, and they sponsored children, and we waited and prayed for God to bless….  AND HE DID!! We started the feeding program in both schools, and children became healthier and learned better!

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Just look at how much some of our children have changed from the beginning of the sponsorship program to today. They are healthy, happy, and educated!!!

Next, God provided the resources to make building improvements! We started by building new classrooms at Maranatha School. God led Great Bridge Baptist Church to raise funds to build four new classrooms on the property! Many teams came and built new desks for the classrooms at Maranatha as well as MEBEA school, and other teams came and painted the new classrooms and the inside and outside of Johel’s church, so that the MEBEA school would be clean and bright for the students to learn! Things were looking brighter!!!

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Around the same time that all of these capital improvements started happening, we began focusing on how we could improve the actual education quality in our schools. We prayed for more sponsors so that we could raise the teachers’ salaries and hire much needed support staff in the schools. Because the two elementary schools we sponsor only went to the 6th grade, we realized that we needed to make a way for our sponsor kids to continue on in school, so we started a But God Ministries Secondary School. Now when students graduate from elementary school, they automatically move on into the BGM High School! Each year we have added a new grade to the high school, and this year we are adding the 11th grade! We almost have a complete school system where kids can start out in kindergarten and go all the way to Philo which is a 13th grade that prepares young people for college!

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We now employ over 75 people in our schools from administration to teachers to support staff, cooks, and janitors. In the few years that have passed since the program started, we have been able to raise teacher salaries to be competitive with all others schools in Haiti. We have provided teacher training in classroom management, discipline, teaching strategies, and incorporating positive reinforcement and incentives in the classroom. These seminars have been led by teachers from the US on visiting teams, the University of Alabama Education Department, and professors from the University of Haiti Education Department.

When we look back to where we began, it is hard to believe what all has taken place in just six years! From sticks and tin to nice classrooms, desks, uniforms, books, employees, etc. Two years in a row, one of our high schoolers has made the highest score on the national exam over the entire region! We have had two high schoolers make perfect scores on sections of the national exam. Our schools are being recognized and applauded by the Ministry of Education! God is INDEED changing a generation! We have actually been watching a miracle take place.

This year, we are looking forward to BIG changes. But God Ministries has been working with all three schools to form our own SCHOOL SYSTEM. We have asked the high school principal, Moliere, to be our school superintendent; we will have qualified principals at all three schools, secretaries, assistant principals, and all very qualified teachers! We will serve hot meals at all three schools, and all three schools will have students sitting in brand new classrooms. God is so good!! And all of this is being done because God has led people all over the world to sponsor kids in our program.

The funds generated through the BGM Sponsorship program pay tuition for sponsored students, pay for their books, uniform, exams, and initial school supplies. After that, sponsorship funds pay for the individual sponsor child plus two more children in the school to eat a hot meal prepared every day at the school – all year long. Sponsor funds also provide salaries for over 75 employees. That means 75 families in our village now have a steady income to provide for their own children! We are literally watching the miracle of the loaves and fishes taking place here in our village, and it’s all because people have been faithful to sponsor.

In order to continue making these and many other future improvements, we need to find 30 more sponsors for the program. In the coming days, we will be adding more and more children to the website to allow more people to sponsor kids in our schools. We want every sponsor and potential sponsor to know that ALL funds received through this program go 100% back to the schools. There are ZERO “administrative costs” being funded. BGM pours every single penny received back to the schools. And we are committed to keeping it this way. Sponsors have opportunities to write to their children, send gifts to their children, even visit their children if they come to serve at Hope Center in Galette Chambon. There is no other sponsorship program in the world like this.

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We desperately need at least 30 more sponsors to make our proposed 2018-2019 budget. We have cut and trimmed all we can, but we can’t make the needed changes without increasing our budget. Will you please consider becoming one of those 30 sponsors that will help us move this system to the next level? Will you please pray and ask God how He can use you? If you don’t necessarily feel led to sponsor a child, but you do want to help the education needs of But God Ministries, you can simply go to our website and give directly to the general education fund at BGM. Make sure you add an additional comment that it is for “Education in Galette Chambon” We invite you to be a part of what God is doing in Galette Chambon, Haiti, to CHANGE A GENERATION!!! Thank you so much for your support!!

~Mickie West, But God Ministries Child Sponsorship Program Administrator

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Soaring on Wings Like Eagles

Our days here at Hope Center are filled with many ups and downs. We face huge disappointments, heart breaking situations, and glorious miracles. I love it when the day ends in a miracle like it did yesterday. Many of you know Kenken…..

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His sponsor is Lori Kizziah from Pensacola. Lori and I (as well as many others) have been so concerned about Kenken over the last few years because he has been through so much pain and he often feels discouraged and beat down by people he trusts to take care of him. He comes from a village called Cha-cha near the mountain village of Bel Fontaine. His parents died about three years ago, and he went to live with his uncle. After a few months, his uncle left him and moved to Brazil. He was alone and scared but determined to find help. He made his way down the mountain to Galette Chambon all by himself. He was 12 years old. He found a family to live with, but they treated him like a slave. It’s a common form of child slavery in Haiti, particularly in the countryside. A child slave is called “restovek.”  He was forced to work for this family and was only allowed to wear tattered clothes and no shoes. He was always dirty and alone. He knew that this treatment was not right, so he came to Hope Center seeking help. At the time, a team from Pensacola was here, and that’s how he met Lori. God led Lori to be his sponsor and we got him in school.

 

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He also started coming to our church and he accepted Jesus as his savior. Things were looking up for Kenken! Once he started school, however, the family he was living with kicked him out. They didn’t like that he was not home in the mornings to work. Once again, he was alone on the dusty paths of the village, sleeping anywhere he could find shelter. Eventually, he found another family to live with, but every time Lori would send him gifts, the people in the family would steal them from him. They made him feel like he owed them the nice things he received from his sponsor. Yesterday, he came to us again completely beat down. Someone in the house took all of his belongings and burned them outside the house. He had nothing…no uniform, no back pack, no shoes, nothing more than the clothes on his back…and once again, no home. He said that the family had started making him sleep outside in the yard with the dogs. I was devastated. I just felt like we were at a complete dead end. We had asked people before if they could help him, and they either said no, or they agreed and abused him. We had talked to some Christian orphanages – because he is a TRUE orphan – but none of them could accept a child over the age of 12. I found myself crying out to God for help because I know He sees Kenken’s situation, and I know He can provide. My heart was so, so heavy. Meanwhile, Kenken just hung out in our yard, playing soccer with Bicly and Cade, enjoying a few laughs with photo filters….waiting…..

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About the same time, a local pastor came to see me to discuss plans for our upcoming party for the handicapped in our area. Next week’s team is making plans, and Pastor Wilfaite is planning on the Haiti end. He had brought in the ladies that will cook the food for the party. We sat and discussed the plans, and I agreed to show them a good location for cooking the food near the church. When we walked through the clinic gate, there sat Kenken on the bench by the clinic. God spoke to my heart and said, “Share his story with them.” So we went behind the clinic and looked at the space for cooking and they agreed that this was a good location. Then I told them about Kenken. Their faces showed disappointment, sadness, & compassion for this child who has known nothing but rejection in the last few years. Pastor said he knew of a woman who has a house near his, not far from the school Kenken attends. She is getting older and could really use someone there in the house with her particularly at night. She has an extra room, and she agreed to let Kenken live there. There is no furniture in the room, so we gave him a cot to sleep on until we can get him a bed. We agreed to find Kenken an additional sponsor so that we can use that money to help her buy food for him and take care of other needs he may have. We dug around in the things that teams have left here and found him some clothes. I looked in the uniform closet to see if his uniform for next year had been made yet so I could go ahead and give it to him. I found something better. I found a uniform with the name of a student who has left the program. The size is perfect for Kenken!

Last night, Kenken spent his first night with his new friend in a solid house with a concrete floor. He slept safely and soundly with a pillow under his head. He woke up this morning and prepared for school without skipping a beat. He had a good breakfast, ate lunch at school, and he knows he will eat dinner at his new home tonight. God has answered our prayers. He has seen Kenken’s pain and used Godly people in the village to reach out to him and help him. I will be posting him again on the website to find him an additional sponsor. I have no doubt that he will have one in no time. Isaiah 40:29-31 says, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” God is giving strength to Kenken right now. I have no doubt that one day, Kenken will run and not grow weary and he will walk and not be faint. He has and will continue to overcome. Praise God!!! 

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