by ANNA CLAIRE O’CAIN
Just a couple months from now, one of MCL’s favorite missions organizations will celebrate its 10th anniversary. But God Ministries
(BGM) started its work in Haiti and has since expanded into the Jonestown community, located near Clarksdale in the Mississippi Delta, where an exciting economic development project is in the works.
Below you can read how BGM began, what the organization is doing now, and how lives are being changed in Jonestown. Most importantly, if you or someone you know has a business that could offer employment in the Jonestown area, BGM would love to partner with companies throughout Mississippi and beyond!
How it began
“But God … ” Those are the words that God whispered to the heart of pastor Stan Buckley as he saw firsthand the effects of a deadly natural disaster.
“It began with the earthquake (in Haiti) in 2010. A guy who was doing some work in Haiti came to see me where I was pastoring a church, First Baptist Jackson. He wanted to get us involved in his work. So I went down there and saw what was going on and came back and God gave a vision,” Stan says.
That vision, because of Stan’s faith and obedience, flourished into the 501c3 nonprofit organization that is now known as But God Ministries.
“The way we could help was by building a sustainable community from scratch,” Stan says. “There were hundreds of thousands of people living in tent cities at the time.”
As a result of the vision God spoke to Stan, he and his team were able to construct 40 houses, a medical and dental clinic, a church, missionary housing, agricultural plots and water wells. “We would move people out of the tent cities into this brand-new community,” he says.
Shortly after this work started, Stan felt God moving him to full-time ministry with BGM as the founder and executive director. With offices in Ridgeland, BGM seeks to continue pursuing that same mission that God revealed to Stan some years ago.
“Thinking outside the box” is something Amber Gray and her team members strive to do in their work with BGM. Amber serves as the Jonestown Community Director in the Mississippi Delta.
From projects in Haiti all the way to Jonestown, Amber says, BGM seeks to promote sustainable communities through their initiative known as SPHERES, focusing on Spiritual needs, Physical needs, H2O, Education, Roofs (housing), Economic development, and Soil (farming and agriculture). This unique approach has allowed BGM to serve the people of Haiti and Jonestown in multiple capacities.
“One of the things that I love about BGM is their presence … wanting to embed themselves into the community,” Amber says. One recent way BGM has been able to do this for the community of Jonestown is through their Center for Economic Development Business Incubator, also known as CEDbi.
“Right now, we have The Galmore Group inside of our business incubator — that is our first business,” Amber says. “(BGM) has assisted a young lady (the owner of The Galmore Group) with payroll, workers’ compensation, all of the things to make sure her business functions. She has a contract with a group out of Jackson (to) package screws.”
Because of the CEDbi, BGM has been able to provide the means for a young woman and Jonestown native to grow her business, while also providing employment for multiple residents of Jonestown.
“Whereas those four or five individuals were not previously employed, they are now able to have full-time employment, and they actually live across the street from where they work,” Amber says.
In addition to serving as the base for The Galmore Group, the CEDbi is also a place exploding with opportunity for many other businesses and individuals. Amber says, “We have also partnered with Ole Miss. We have held a business seminar, providing the steps of opening a business, making sure to go through those steps properly, and also providing additional resources.
“We also have another course that we are able to enroll up-and-coming business owners or current business owners in, to make sure they are understanding how to manage their business.”
In addition, Amber shared that the CEDbi has partnered with Coahoma Community College in neighboring Clarksdale to provide forklift training free of charge. Amber and her team members at BGM hope to partner with more businesses and individuals through the CEDbi to provide even more opportunities for the community of Jonestown.
A life changed
“A lovely place to work” is how Jonestown native Alice Jefferson describes her workplace at the CEDbi. Following a two-month training, Alice began working this summer with The Galmore Group, packaging screws and aiding in distribution of products to various companies.
“Me and my team members keep it going all day for hours,” she chuckles.
When asked what her job and the business incubator partnership mean to her, she says, “It’s good for me because I’m right here in Jonestown and the love we have there. We don’t have any problems. Everything is just fun working — no stress, no nothing.
“You have that smile every morning you go in — it never stops since I’ve been working there.”
Alice also appreciates the spiritual component of the CEDbi.
“It’s fun, the prayer. If you need someone to be there for you, (see) Rev. Brown,” she says about pastor and CEDbi Director Bennie Brown.
“He is that person that would listen (as) you explain things to him, and you know he will give you his thoughts about it.”
Alice has never worked at a place like The Galmore Group before. Because of BGM and their obedience to Christ in establishing the CEDbi, Alice’s and many others’ lives have been changed.
To partner with BGM’s economic development project, email Stan Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the 10th Anniversary Celebration, email Dina Ray at email@example.com.
Quick facts about BGM’s work in the Delta:
◆ Began work in Jonestown, Mississippi, in 2016
◆ Completed 6,000-square-foot Hope Center for visiting ministry teams in Jonestown in 2017
◆ Legal clinic with University of Mississippi School of Law
◆ Dental clinic opened in December 2018
◆ Montessori School for 2- to 5-year-olds
◆ High-school diploma program for adults
◆ Housing program to help residents become homeowners with their own mortgages
◆ Medical clinic refurbished
◆ Economic Development Center built in 2020
◆ 500-700 mission trip participants each year
◆ Partnerships with local churches for evangelism and discipleship
◆ Countless Bible studies, worship services and vacation Bible school activities
Anna Claire O’Cain is a Scott County native, former English teacher, and current grad student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Liberty University. She is married to her best friend, J.T., who is a teacher and youth pastor. Most of all, she is a believer who is passionate about serving God through missions and worship. Through MCL, she is able to use her love for writing to serve the Lord in a new way.