We first wrote about the village of Bethel in our June 2004 newsletter. Here is an excerpt from that letter.
This past Tuesday, some of us went along with Pastor Diogene and his Port-au-Prince team to share in a Bible Study in the village of Bethel. This is the village we were introduced to through the unfortunate circumstances of Joe, our truck driver, who hit and killed a drunk pedestrian. Because of that incident Pastor Diogene met with a judge who invited him to his home village of Bethel. After meeting with the judge Pastor Diogene was invited to begin a Bible study in this village every Tuesday afternoon.
Four weeks ago, 14 unsaved people came together under a large tree to study the Gospel of John . The next week 22 were there. The third week it was 26 of which two indicated a desire to become Christians. When we were there, 36 people came to hear the Word of God shared and three more became Christians. Pastor Steve had the opportunity to pray with them. It is so exciting to see the interest and hunger for the truth. One of the older women in the group was a witch doctor’s wife. Many more people passed by, slowed down, and listened for a while, wondering what was going on.
We are in the process of purchasing land in Bethel and expect to start a small Christian school there this fall. An evangelistic crusade will be held there sometime this summer. Please pray for the people in this village — God is working in their midst. We are trusting Him for a great harvest of souls.
God has accomplished much since that first Bible Study under that tree in Bethel. Today there are well over 300 believers, about a third of the local population, in church every Sunday. Pastor Jacque is completing his Bible School education and is doing a great work in leading these people. We have a Christian school with 360 students. Each year we have at least one evangelistic crusade in Bethel. When we started there Pastor Diogene was warned that the voodoo influence was so great that he should reconsider going there. His reply, “That’s exactly where we want to be.”
We did purchase land, put up a temporary structure for the church building, a couple of years ago built a school building and now have started construction on a 45’ X 80’ permanent church building. But the 25 witchdoctors in Bethel are not happy. When we began this project they said, “There will be no permanent church building in Bethel!”
So as the foundation was begun a few weeks ago, the witchdoctors began to put curses on the project. One night they snuck onto the building site and spread powdered poisons all around. Then as the workers came the next morning they watched, expecting them to get sick and eventually die. However they were surprised to see that no one was affected at all and the work proceeded.
Diogene and the Bethel church had prayed over the construction site prior to beginning the project, praying for God’s favor and protection. And we thank God for His protection! Today the foundation is complete and the walls are going up. We are so excited about what God is doing in Bethel.
When Nehemiah went to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls he met a lot of opposition. In the fourth chapter of Nehemiah it tells about the opposition’s anger, their plotting to stop the progress and the “stirring up trouble against it”. And then in verse nine Nehemiah said, “But we prayed to our God–.” God protected them and the walls were rebuilt. Thank you for praying with us for the continued work in Bethel. This place that was once the haven of the demonic is being transformed by God to a Light to the entire area where God is being glorified!
Thank you for your prayers, support and partnership in this ministry.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp