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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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What It’s All About

Today I sit anxiously awaiting the return of one of the teams that has been at Hope Center this week. It’s a team from Jackson, and not only do they have the remainder of the clay orders, but they have PICTURES from this week’s mission events!!! I can’t wait to see them and share them with all of you!! I have many stories to tell, but I want to put pictures with the ones I share. Stay tuned…..I

In the meantime, there is one story I cannot withhold from you because it completely melted my heart. This week has been a very tiring week for Tony, both physically and emotionally. It was his first week back (seems like an eternity to me), and he set foot back on Haitian soil with a team from Hattiesburg, Ms, there to run a medical clinic and dental clinic in tandem. This is exciting because we have seen soooo many people who desperately needed dental attention. On top of that, Tony has looked forward to learning many things from the dental team so that he can continue to meet the dental needs of the people of our village. We have a very nice dental clinic with tons of supplies and such, but he had no idea what we had and how to use it. He looked forward to being schooled this week…..and that is exactly what happened. Well, that and much, much more of course. Tony is so excited to know how to pull teeth now, and he can do it without causing pain to his patients, so that is really exciting. Thank you, Lord, for once again for Your provision!!

In addition to getting to learn in the dental clinic, we had a rather extensive medical team at Hope Center that included several doctors, including a dermatologist. Isn’t it amazing to know that God is providing not just general medical care to the people of this village, but specialty care….and FREE! These are people who get up early in the morning, many before daylight, and walk for hours in the dark with only the light of kerosene in a vegetable can to try to see a doctor. They will wait not just for hours, but some will wait all day long to see a doctor about a need that they have been having to ignore for months because they could not afford to get medical attention anywhere else. There are many unusual skin conditions in Haiti that need medical attention, so having a dermatologist there to see about these specific needs is such a blessing!! And here’s the biggest blessing….in just four days, this medical team saw over 500 patients and the dental team treated about 150 patients. Now THAT is exciting!!

Needless to say, for Tony, who is not only helping with the medical teams now, but he has also taken on many more administrative tasks now that I am not there, is very tired today. There have been meetings upon meetings upon meetings all week long with groups and individuals as we take care of other needs in the village besides medical care. There have been meetings about the orphanage, meetings about the school, meetings about a church BGM is helping to build, and meetings about general activities going on around Hope Center. It’s a lot to take in and a huge load to carry. I have prayed and prayed for my precious husband as he has flexed his administrative muscles this week. He is so compassionate, yet very detail oriented, and that is what makes him so good at what he does, but it can also be very tiring. Well, our God is a loving, compassionate God, and He knows that Tony needs a fresh touch from Him on a daily basis. God uses so many people and situations to do just that….every day. I am so thankful that my husband is in the hands of such a loving and personal God. This leads me to the story I want to share with you….

Yesterday, Tony and Vladimir went into the village for yet another meeting at one of the schools there. It was a difficult meeting, but God led the meeting and God provided the needed words to communicate what Tony needed to communicate. Hallelujah! After the meeting, Tony and Vladimir were walking along the dusty pathways through the village on their way back to Hope Center, and they were having a conversation about why we do what we do. He began to share with Vladimir about the scripture in Matthew 25, verses 31-40 where it says,

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

After sharing this passage with Vladimir, Tony said, “When we take care of the sick; when we give people water; when we give them clothes to wear and food to eat; when we love on the lonely and give hugs to the hurting, we don’t do it for our own glory or to gain points with God or anyone else. When we do these things, we are sharing the real love of JESUS. We do these things because the love of Jesus is INSIDE of us, and in our love and reverence to Him, His Love pours out of us to others. THAT is why we do what we do.”

Just as Tony was saying this, an elderly woman came running across an open field towards where Tony and Vladimir were walking. She was waving her arms in the air and yelling something they couldn’t understand. They stopped and awaited her approach because they knew she was coming to them. When she reached them, she began to hug on Tony, kiss his cheeks, and tears were streaming down her face. He understood some of what she was saying as she cried out, “Mesi Jesi, mesi Jesi!” (Thank you Jesus) Vladimir began to interpret to Tony what she said after this. She was saying, “I came to you in the clinic, and I was sick and you prayed with me and gave me medicine, and now I am well. I was so thirsty and you gave me a drink of water. I was hungry and you gave me some crackers to eat while I waited. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus for sending this man to our village.” Oh my goodness, I can hardly type right now for the tears filling my eyes. The screen goes blurry and my fingers shake. God sent this precious woman to assure Tony that what he was explaining to Vladimir was right on point. God assured Tony and Vladimir both through this woman that His Word is ALIVE, and His Word is being acted out every single day at Hope Center, and He DOES bless it. As if this wasn’t enough to knock their sandals off, they continued on their journey back to Hope Center and a middle aged farmer approached them as they were nearing the soccer field. He went to Tony and shook his hand in the usual Haitian fashion. Theirs is not a casual shake of one hand to another. They take your hand in theirs, then touch your arm or hand with their other hand as if to say, “I want to bless you with BOTH hands.” As the man shook Tony’s hand, he asked about Jacob. Tony explained that Jacob is not in Haiti right now, but he is coming back in a few weeks. The man proceeded to tell Tony and Vladimir that he misses seeing Jacob in the village. He said that Jacob would always stop and talk to him and practice his Creole with him and teach him English words so they could communicate better with one another. Then the man said, “One day I was hungry and Jacob went to his house and got some food for me. I was also thirsty and he also brought me something to drink. God used Jacob to bless me, and I appreciate it very much. I really do miss that boy.” Tony and Vladimir were both just amazed at what they were hearing. It wasn’t that they were surprised that Jacob ministered to this man and we never even knew it; it was that once again God sent someone to confirm His Word to them….”Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” God was once again confirming His blessings upon our work there and assuring Tony that He has used and will continue to us ALL of us in His plan.

Tony and Vladimir continued on their journey to Hope Center with a renewed and refreshed spirit. God sent these people along the pathway to bless them in return for their blessings to His people. His blessings are fresh and new every single day. We praise Him for being ACTIVE in our lives and taking care of every single detail. We praise Him with all that we have, all that we are, and all that we do. Oh how He loves us!!

Stay tuned for pictures of the week!!!

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For your viewing pleasure

Here’s a video that will bless your heart.

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God uses us each uniquely

Once again I am amazed by how God has designed each one of us uniquely and how He begins from before we are even born to lay out a plan that includes opportunities and experiences that will guide us to the path that He desires for us. Today yet another exciting thing happened in our journey to Haiti. Remember in the first post I told the story of how the Haitian soccer coach called my cell phone and assured us that Jacob would have many opportunities to continue his training in soccer while we are in Haiti? Then in the last post, I mentioned that I hoped that Jacob would be able to meet Coach Peterson while we are visiting in a few weeks. Well…..

Today I was working in my classroom while Jacob took the ACT downstairs. I had called and left a message with Coach Peterson earlier in the morning because I wanted to make sure he was even going to be in Haiti while we are there. He called me back within 30 minutes. I explained to him that we have two days that are open between going to the FBCJ development site and the Samaritan’s Purse compound. He said that he could either meet us in Port au Prince at that time and meet Jacob, or we could go to where he lives in Cap Haitien and stay with him there for those two days and Jacob would be able to train with his players while we are there. If he met us in Port au Prince, we would have to get a hotel room and he would only get to meet Jacob, but Jacob couldn’t meet the team. He said that if we can get ourselves up to Cap Haitien, he can get us back to Port au Prince to meet Samaritan’s Purse at the airport. Of course, there are still quite a few details to work out, but the point I want to make is that God has uniquely designed each of us with our own talents, gifts, interests, etc. He also provides ways for us to be used in those areas. God has obviously given Jacob a unique athletic ability that He plans to use one day for His glory. Just as God is molding and growing Jonathan into a physician and has now provided a unique opportunity to allow Jonathan to be used in Haiti in the mobile clinics, he is providing opportunities for Jacob in the areas in which he is gifted as well.

This is so exciting to me…..to know that as we step out in faith as a family, we are not only being blessed as a whole, but individually as well. God is good. Here is what I wish you would pray for…Pray that God will open doors and provide a way for us to get from Port au Prince on the 26th to Cap Haitien and that our travels to and from will be under His divine protection. Amen!  and thank you!

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