A pastor who once led 5,000 members at First Baptist Church in Jackson, MS, has shared how a visit to Haiti, where he saw people affected by the massive 2010 earthquake, moved him so much that he left his church for a new calling – to help build new communities.
Rev. Stan Buckley revealed to The Clarion-Ledger that he was so inspired by the humility of the people in the Caribbean nation, where more than 300,000 died as a result of the earthquake, that he felt the calling to establish But God Ministries – an organization dedicated to building communities in impoverished nations around the world.
Construction began in May 2011 in a region called Ganthier, 30 miles east of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. When finished, the project will have built 40 houses on 17 acres of land, including water wells, a medical-dental complex, a church, a school, agriculture plots, and even a soccer field.
The website describes that the ambitious project is fused with the mission of God:
“In addition to meeting physical needs, our goal is to share the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That Good News is that God so loved Haiti that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. But God Ministries seeks to share the hope and love that are found in a relationship with Jesus Christ,” a statement reads.
Prior to resigning from his position at First Baptist Church, Buckley spoke to his congregation about his visit to Haiti, and motivated them to raise more than $600,000 over nine months, which provided significant funding to get the project off the ground.
One Sunday morning for church service, he erected an 18-by-12-foot building representing the houses they planned to build in Haiti, and went on to share why it was so crucial to get involved in the mission. The devastating earthquake left millions homeless, and today many in the country are living in tent cities, with insufficient medical attention and little hope for the future.
In the summer of last year, the pastor made his first visit to one of the tent cities in the Caribbean nation, and shared an experience that has stuck with him ever since. "I saw a mother and her 4-year-old son living in a 6-foot-by-4-foot tent with a dirt floor. She slept on old dirty bedding on top of pieces of cinder block. Her husband had just died. She had no hope. She had nothing but that tent,” he described.
"Then it started raining that night."
"The day I told the church it was time for me to move on, this is what I moved on to," the reverend shared with the newspaper. "This is what drives me now: a woman I saw in a tent. And her little boy."
Buckley concluded that he might go back to preaching one day, but for now it was his missionary work that drove him. He affirmed his plans to build many long-lasting housing communities in Haiti and other placed in need, which will give people a new hope in life and allow his organization to share the word of God with them.