Disaster Relief Update

Dear Friends,

We wanted to take a few moments and share with you where we are in our disaster relief efforts in Port-au-Prince and how we have been using the resources you’ve helped to supply.  As Pastor Diogene indicated in our update Monday, we have supplied food to approximately 10,000 people since the earthquake in January, and for many of those, this was their primary source of food.  Our family sponsorship ministry – where sponsors have committed to supporting a family for a six-month period while they re-establish their lives – has been going strong for the last two months, with more than 100 families sponsored.  And now we are preparing to help families reconstruct homes lost in the earthquake.

Our approach to this reconstruction will be to support Haitians as they rebuild.  Where some might be inclined to descend on Port-au-Prince and rebuild for them, we believe this kind of supportive partnership is a better course of action.  And our support will come in several ways: 

  1. Financial.  The way we’ve done this in the past (after the 2008 hurricanes) was to pay for materials for one phase of construction at a time, such as the foundation or the walls.  The homeowner provided the labor.  And when that phase was completed and inspected, we financed the next phase.
  2.  Labor assistance in specific, specialized areas.  We brought in a team that installed the metal roofing on several of the homes built in 2008-2009.
  3.  Guidance through the construction process.  Using our Haitian partners, we want to visit and encourage these homeowners regularly while ensuring proper construction.

Pastor Diogene has suggested that we reevaluate some of the outdated construction methods used on many Haitian homes.  We agree with him that, while we want to use familiar and available materials (concrete blocks, metal roofing, etc.), there are techniques that will streamline construction and produce a better, more solid home.  These range from small changes in the mortar that will increase its strength to better methods for tying together walls.  Our goal is to keep things “Haitian” while being good stewards of the resources we’ve been given and producing well-built homes that will last for many years.  So Glenn and Doug, along with our Haitian construction partners, are in the process of evaluating building methods right now.  Pray for wisdom for them as they consider these things.

As always, thank you for the part you play in supporting our Haitian brothers and sisters, especially during these difficult times for them.

Serving our Lord together,

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp

Pastor Diogene – in his own words

Several families in our church lost everything they had and did not know what to do.  But through the Starfish Ministries food distribution program, they have survived.  Our food distribution program has a great reputation among the Haitian people, and I want to thank everyone who contributed for their help to make this possible.

The food distribution has helped approximately 10,000 people in Haiti.  Half of them are in the area around our church and the others are in other parts of Port-au-Prince and Haiti.  We still feed them and will continue for another month.

One of my pastor friends said, “You can not imagine the impact on my church people.  Even though many organizations are distributing food in Haiti, Starfish is treating people with respect.  I want to thank those donors for their help.”

And we want to add our thanks to that of Pastor Diogene and his pastor friend.  Thank you for all for your generous support.

April 2010 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

We recently published accounts of the January earthquake in Haiti by two young men who have been friends and partners with Starfish Ministries for many years.  Daniel teaches in an English-speaking elementary school in Port-au-Prince.  Mickenson is in his second year of seminary, also in Port-au-Prince.

The striking thing about their reactions to this tragedy is their trust in the Lord and complete surrender to His will.  Daniel lost his fiancé in the earthquake and mere weeks later wrote, “God has given us the strength to accept His will.  He’s wiped all our tears, and we are doing His work with gladness.  Now, we are living proof that His mercies and His faithfulness never fail.  May His name be glorified in our lives!” Continue Reading →