August 2001 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

I returned from Haiti on July 11.  It was a great trip with the team from University Christian Ministries from Western Washington University!  It was difficult for me to leave them.  They along with Glenn Bridges stayed until July 26.  The team did an outstanding job of teaching English to our kids in the orphanage as well as to the adults in the village of Tricotte.  They also taught VBS the 3rd week and the last 2 nights took part in an evangelistic crusade  in Drigeon.

It was good to see the team connect with the orphan kids.  In addition to teaching English, they played games, did crafts, and loved, held and nurtured these special kids for 22 days.  I was encouraged by the level of spiritual maturity of the team.  Under the leadership of Jamie Barnhart, the team was focused on growing to know God more as they ministered to the people of Haiti.  Team prayer time was a priority and we saw God at work through faithful prayers of the team and those at home lifting up the team.  Thank you for your part.

The children are doing well – they are excited about learning English.  Some of the older ones are doing quite well communicating in English.  While I was there, the children received their report cards for the school year.  Out of our 102 children, only 14 were not promoted to the next grade.  This is a very good percentage since the children need to pass a national exam in order to be promoted.  Those that did not pass are being tutored during the summer and some will be given the opportunity to take the exam again.

Our orphanage housemother, Senilia, is on maternity leave.  She left the village of Tricotte on the 10th of July to stay with friends in the city of Gonieves to await the arrival of her second child.  Gonieves has medical facilities for childbirth.   Jan, one of our orphanage board members, is filling in for Senilia during this time.  She is doing a great job of directing these kids.  We are thankful for the Haitian people God has raised up to partner with us in this ministry.  They are dedicated to the ministry of caring for the poor and needy children of Haiti and it’s a privilege to work side by side with them.

I met with each of the headmasters of our schools.  We discussed the past year and made plans for the next school year.  The schools had a pass percentage between 70 and 84%.  That is very positive for Haitian schools since many of the children are not encouraged by their parents who don’t realize the value of education.  As a result, attendance and grades suffer. 

All the schools expect significant growth this year.  We have several children needing sponsors.  If God leads you in this way, please contact us.

We are excited about evangelism in the villages surrounding Tricotte this coming school year.  Our goal is to present the gospel not only to our school children, but also to their parents.  We are partnering with a dynamic Christian man named Omer Occilien.  He will visit a school and village each day of the week, sharing with the children in chapel services and being available to meet individually with them.  The balance of the day will be spent visiting the homes of the children and sharing with the parents.  Omer was born the son of  a witch-doctor in the village of Nan-Paul and was being trained to practice this himself when he heard about Jesus.  In 1962 at the age of 22 Omer prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  Omer immediately began to share his new found faith in his village but suffered much persecution. 

Omer and his wife (Pastor Diogene’s sister) live in Tricotte, but he has continued to go back to Nan-Paul and share the gospel.  Recently one of his brothers became a Christian.  The rest of Omer’s family, even though they respect Omer now, continue to follow their voodoo practices.  Nan-Paul is a village of about 1000 that now has about 10 Christians.  During the summer of 2002 we are planning an evangelistic crusade in this needy village.  Currently the village has no school or church so we are praying concerning that need.

Omer is a leader in the Tricotte church and regularly teaches adult Sunday school and preaches whenever needed.  He has the gift of evangelism and over the years has gone from village to village sharing his faith.  We are pleased to have him team up with Starfish Ministries, sharing the Gospel of salvation and principles of Christian living with our school children and then, too, in their homes.  Thank you for making it possible through your sponsorship for many children to attend school and hear the precious Word of the Gospel.  Our prayer is that God will use Omer to reach many. 

Thank you for being a part of this ministry through your faithful prayers and financial support.

Serving our Lord together,

Bernie & Sheryl Bovenkamp