Center Hill resident Jeff Smith's experiences through But God Ministries were shared at the February meeting of the Center Hill CDC.
Last August, Smith had the opportunity to visit Haiti through But God Ministries, a Christian non-profit organization committed to sharing the love of Jesus Christ through building sustainable communities around the world. Stan Buckley, former senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, is executive director of the ministry formed in fall 2010 as a mission project for his church in Haiti. Haiti had been decimated by a devastating earthquake earlier that year.
In May 2011, construction of a sustainable community for those still living in tents, began on 17 acres of land near the town of Ganthier, approximately 18 miles east of Port-au-Prince, which is the main city in the tiny country, Smith said. The compound – known as Hope Center – is comprised of a medical-dental complex, 40 houses, a church, a school, an orphanage, water wells, soccer field, agriculture plots, marketplace and a missionary house. Completed in February 2012, work continues on providing more housing.
"The trip gave me a new perspective on what life's hardships really are," Smith said. "Houses that do exist are 10' X 12', 15' X 20' at the most, and have dirt floors, no power, no running water and no toilets. To get water entails a long walk uphill. A rolled up mat is one's bed.
"The houses built by But God Ministries have concrete floors, a luxury for those families," he said. "The materials to make the concrete is hauled in by dump trucks that are loaded by shovels. The excavation machinery is broken and there is no money to repair them."
Smith showed pictures taken during his stay and a But God Ministries pamphlet. For more about the ministry, visit www.butgodministries.com
Smith and his wife, Brandi, and their children, Sara and Macayla, live in the Center Hill Community and joined the Center Hill CDC in 2013.
The meeting opened with a greeting from club president Robin Doerner, who quoted English Missionary and Physician Sir Wilfred Grenfell: "Real joy comes not from ease of riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile."
Cathy Clearman presented devotional readings. The first from a daily devotion book by author Sarah Young titled, "Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence." The book is unique in that each daily devotion is written in first person – as if Jesus is speaking directly to the reader. Young suggested reading each message slowly, preferably in a quiet place. As Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God." Before reading, Clearman asked the members to listen as if Jesus was speaking directly to them.
"I am the Risen One who shines upon you always. You worship a living Deity, not some idolatrous, man-made image. Your relationship with Me is meant to be vibrant and challenging, as I invade more and more areas of your life. Do not fear change, for I am making you a new creation, with old things passing away and new things continually on the horizon. When you cling to old ways and sameness, you resist My work within you. I want you to embrace all that I am doing in your life, finding your security in Me alone.
"It is easy to make an idol of routine, finding security within the boundaries you build around your life. Although each day contains 24 hours, every single one presents a unique set of circumstances. Don't try to force-fit today into yesterday's mold. Instead, ask Me to open your eyes, so you can find all I have prepared for you in this precious day of life."
To further enhance the devotion's message, Clearman read Matthew 28: 5-7 and 2 Corinthians 5:17.
The Rev. Wallace Terry concluded devotion with prayer and gave thanks for the upcoming refreshments.
Center Hill CDC placed third for Club of the Year at the recent Community Club Awards Banquet, which was held at Kahlmus Auditorium on the MSU-Meridian campus. Center Hill was awarded a mini grant to help with costs for repainting the field house, and welcomed new CDC sponsor Little Acre.
Stanley Lucky, member and Bailey Volunteer Fire Department chief, presented a safety report on severe weather conditions. He urged members to exercise caution, especially with tornado season imminent. Members who reside in mobile homes were advised to stay with friends or family when warnings have been issued. Lucky said investing in a good weather radio – while annoying at times – can be a life saver.
Doerner asked members to think of fundraising ideas for the club, and to keep the stuffed animal project for Lauderdale County Sheriff Department in mind when out shopping.
From her research of organizations in need volunteers, Caroline Wilson reported that the Veterans Service Center could use donations of toiletries and other such items for its clients. Members are to bring donatable items to the March meeting.
The meeting adjourned with the Pledge of Allegiance.
• Submitted by Cathy Clearman, reporter.