By Christy Swift

From those first photos of starving children in Ethiopia we saw in the 1980s, Americans have seen the devastation that afflicts poorer nations and has been moved to help. But we’ve learned that these problems aren’t always easy to solve. Funds don’t end up where they’re meant to. Change must come from within. Community isn’t just a buzzword. Dignity matters.

For the past 13 years, Haiti Bible Mission has had boots on the ground in a quiet little town called Jeremie on the mountainous west coast of the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, working to make a meaningful difference. CEO Pastor Mark Stockeland and his wife, Sebring native Lacey Stockeland (née Freeland), took over the mission from Mark’s dad, a long time preacher and missionary. His dad worked on his own, training local Haitians to become pastors, but Mark envisioned doing more.

What they’ve created has not only changed communities in Haiti for the better, but has given them the resilience to rise to the challenges facing their nation, including the recent devastating earthquake that struck the island nation on August 14th, 2021.


Stockeland knew from the get-go what he wanted Haiti Bible Mission to be. “I don’t want to just teach people the Bible and I don’t want to just teach people to be successful— I want to teach them both,” he said.

Looking for young, eager Haitians whom he could teach to impact their community for the Gospel, he headed for the local Jeremie basketball courts, a place where he was well known having grown up on the mission. Stockeland said that, like Jesus, he had an eye out for the B and C players, not the A players. “I started turning to people who were super humble, with great character, and nice. In the world, we tend to look for power and prestige. I was looking for character and heart.”


One of the young men he met was Eldet Tine, a young Haitian man from Jeremie who is now Haiti Bible Mission’s director of operations and Stockeland’s best friend.

Tine tells his story in his native Creole in a video on the Haiti Bible Mission website: “When I was a young boy, my mom would ask me, ‘What do you want to do?’ I never gave a response because I saw the situation we were in with our family— we didn’t have possibilities, we couldn’t finish school, so I didn’t think that was even an important question to ask.”

Tine recalled times he’d go out looking for food for his family, and all he could find was wood. Then one day, he asked a local concrete block maker if he could watch him and learn the skill. The man agreed and Tine learned to make concrete block so well that he began to be able to sell it to support his family. That was about the time Stockeland met him. He invited Tine to take part in Haiti Bible Mission’s leadership program, and now Tine is an ordained pastor with his own church, Stockeland’s right-hand man at Haiti Bible Mission, and someone the community knows they can turn to.

“HBM gave me more and more opportunities to grow,” Tine explained. “That’s when I started to see that I was someone important.”

When the earthquake hit Jeremie this year, it took Stockeland five days to get down to Jeremie, but he wasn’t worried because Tine was there spearheading the relief effort and giving updates. To him, it was proof that Haiti Bible Mission was accomplishing its goal of discipling and empowering local community leaders. When Stockeland showed up, it would be to carry bags of rice, not to run the show.


The one-man, one-building organization that was Haiti Bible Mission when Stockeland took it over thirteen years ago has since grown into a multi- building compound with a two-story bunkhouse/ social area, warehouse, office, and a residence for the Stockelands and their four children. Highlands County contractor Mark Gose has been a part of that journey for the past 12 years. Over 20 plus trips to Haiti, he’s helped build all of those buildings, plus churches, schools and homes on top of countless roof repairs for Haitian families in Jeremie.

“The Haitians usually do the concrete slabs and put up the block wall. Our teams go down and hand frame the roofs and install the roofing material and do all the interior framing,” Gose said.

Gose met Stockeland when he was building Grace Bible Church, the church he attends with his wife Brandi and where he serves as team captain for the Haiti Bible Mission program. “Three weeks later I was in Haiti with him,” Gose recalled. “We just started building stuff. We started teaching the Haitians how to build. They had no power tools, no electricity, no running water— we started teaching them how to use screw guns. Now the young Haitian men we taught can build their own houses and they can build stuff for other people; they’ve started their own businesses. We just kept supplying them with generators and tools so they could go out and bless their community.”


Gose went down to Haiti shortly after the August earthquake as well. Haiti Bible Mission’s main task was delivering food and supplies and preparing food for the 300 plus patients and staff at the local hospital as well as transporting people out who needed medical care. “The hospital director said, ‘We need food’,” Stockeland recalled. “Eldet said, ‘We’ll bring it. We’ll cook it’.”

“We were unloading these big helicopters from the U.S. Army that were coming in full of food,” along with deliveries from Agape Flights and Mission Aviation Fellowship, Gose added. At first, they couldn’t get supplies across the river because the only bridge was damaged. Gose explained how the Jeremie government used a bulldozer to haul the trucks across the river one by one.

It is difficult work, especially in a country that already has its fair share of desperate people and suffering. But bit by bit, the work gets done. “It gets a little bit better every day,” Gose said. “We’re the hands of Jesus down in Haiti.”


Want to get involved with Haiti Bible Mission or the ongoing relief effort? There are a couple of ways to do it.

Monetary donations can be made through To specifically donate to earthquake relief, look for “Earthquake Response Effort” in the drop-down. Donating money is better than donating items as items need to be shipped. Donations are managed by a third party and all donated funds are spent in Haiti, helping to boost the local economy. That means when you donate money, you get to help twice.

Haiti Bible Mission will continue to run mission trips to the island. You can join a group through Grace Bible Church in Sebring or First Presbyterian Church of Lake Placid. You can also reach out to the organization directly at info@

There is a great need for medical professionals, electricians, carpenters, and handymen. But even if you don’t have any of these skills, Stockeland said you’ll be welcomed and put to work. There is always a need for general labor, support, and even cooking and serving meals.

“Or you can just come down and love on people,” he added.