I received word late last week from Daniel that one of our pastor friends in Haiti was killed Friday night. Pastor Simon was the current president of the Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Haiti (elected after Pastor Diogene’s term was up). He arrived at his home late Friday night after attending a two day pastors’ conference and was confronted by several men. We don’t know why but just know that a ransom was initially demanded. When the police checked they found Simon dead from a gunshot wound in a field behind his house. His wife was also shot, lost quite a bit of blood and is in a hospital in Port-au-Prince. Their children are all living in the US, going to school. Please prayer for the family and all affected by this tragedy.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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Pastor Diogene has suggested that we reevaluate some of the outdated construction methods used on many Haitian homes.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
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.
What an Amazing God!
Janary 12, 2010 around 3 o’clock I started taking courses for the second semestre , the teacher come in to the class for the first time and started teaching. This is called [the Art of Oratory], this class talks about how can somebody be a good speaker. At that time , I paid attention to listen to him. I can also expect that he is really good in what is doing. Every Tuesday we have two hours with him. We have a break time every 45 minute. We didn’t even go out to enjoy the break time. We all stayed in the class , giving our ideas about the class we are taking. One of us said: “This is the best class we ‘ve ever had, we hope that God will help us to emmagazine and practice then all in our ministries. Break time is finished the teacher restarted again. I could see in the room there is an absolute silence there every one paid attention to listen the teacher. Continue Reading →
Doug is back in Haiti for a couple of days — we sure appreciate his willingness to serve and minister.
Yesterday Doug was able to meet with Garry Charles, our family sponsorship director, and get updated on the families. Garry is doing a great job. He has distributed the funds to each family and has a signed receipt from each one. These 120 families really appreciate the support. Manyof them have been able to restart up their small marketing businesses — without the financial support this would have taken several months — but with the support they will again be able to be supporting themselves quite soon.
Pastor Diogene’s schedule remains full. Doug has had but a few minutes with him. Later this afternoon Doug has a meeting time set with Diogene. God is using Pastor Diogene in many places in Haiti. Yesterday Diogene and eleven other evangelical pastors met with the president of Haiti, President Rene Preval. The meeting was scheduled to be short and focus on how the government can help the needy by partnering with the churches. However Preval began to ask questions. He told these pastors that he didn’t know much about the Protestant faith and wanted to understand the differences from Catholism. What a great opportunity God gave these pastors! The meeting went on for several hours. Preval showed genuine interest — please pray that President Preval’s heart will be open to receive Jesus Christ as Savior.
One of the requests the pastors had for Preval was for the government to provide land for the relocation of many of their people. Preval indicated this might be possible and would check into that possibility. And then he invited the pastors back to meet with him today so they could continue their conversation concerning spiritual things and he would give them an answer concerning the request. So that is where Diogene is this morning. God is at work in Haiti — we’ve already seen so much good come from the devastaion of the earthquake. Let’s pray together that President Preval would also trust the Savior.
Thank you so much for all your prayers and support!
It’s been some time since we have shared about what’s happening in Haiti. Sorry about that — several of you have been asking and of course telling us how much you appreciate having updates. Here goes with a short update.
I talked to Pastor Diogene yesterday and he seems to be doing much better. For a while he was just plain tired out. He hadn’t stopped to catch his breath since the earthquake but now has been able to catch up a little. I really appreciate Diogene. He has such a heart for the needy — I received a telephone call from a Haitian woman who lives in Olympia, WA. Her mother and two children, 10 & 12 years old, had gone through the earthquake and were now living on the street in Port au Prince but had received no help. She had a Haiti phone number for the grandmother. I passed it on to Diogene and he immediately made contact and sent over a food and clothing package for the family. Please pray for Diogene and Leonette; for their health and strength. And pray for wisdom as they make decisions each day.
Sickness is becoming more of a reality in Haiti. One of our boys currently has malaria and typhoid. He has been able to get medical treatment and is improving. But with the poor santitation and lack of good water, typhoid will continue to be a big problem. And then with the rains starting, the mosquitos will be multiplying and carrying malaria. Please pray for the medical needs and for our team as they minister to the sick as well as the hungry.
Pastor Diogene and his team are continuing to distribute food. Currently they are preparing 700 – 1000 food packages per week. Each package contains about 50 lbs of rice, beans, pasta, some seasoning along with cooking oil. Each package is given to a family and is their food provision for a week. Diogene estimates that each food package feeds a family of six members or more for that week.
We are so thankful for the containers of donated food. A container of dried vegetable soup and dried apples from THE FRASER VALLEY GLEANERS in Abbotsford, BC arrived in Haiti and cleared customs a couple of weeks ago. Diogene has now added it to our food packs. And the people really like it! Then a container of Fortified Rice and Soy Protein Meals from FEED MY STARVING CHILDREN arrived in Haiti ten days ago and cleared customs in record time and is now being used as well. We thank God for His provision!
Doug is going back to Haiti next week for a couple of days. He will be working with Garry Charles and gathering more information from the families we are supporting. We have had a tremendous response for this short term sponsorship. We thank God for you, your prayers and all of your support!!!
It is so good to hear from Doug about what God is doing through Pastor Diogene and his outreach ministry team. The nightly meetings have continued this week with many more responding to the invitation to follow Jesus. This morning Diogene purchased 400 new Bibles to present to the 400 new believers. Yesterday from 1pm to 4pm they had meetings for all new believers. They divided them into three groups; children, young adults and older adults and began teaching them the foundational truths of the faith. They will continue these classes for several weeks. Thank you for your prayers for these new brothers and sisters in Christ. What a joy it is to see God at work in their lives!
The food distribution is also continuing. Yesterday and today the distribution team sent out several loads of packaged up rice, beans, pasta and cooking oil. God is using this avenue to open the hearts of these people to receive the Living Bread of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you so much for your support and partnership with us. God is using you to really make an eternal difference in these Haitians’ lives.
After a week-long evangelistic crusade in Port-au-Prince, Pastor Diogene’s church met Sunday morning (February 14) at 6am. And they worshipped, prayed, and listened to God’s word until noon. Near the end of the service, Diogene issued another invitation to respond to the gospel, and 75 people came forward. Following this, Diogene asked that anyone who had put their faith in Christ during the previous week come forward. The total was more than 300 souls!
Sunday evening they met again for a time of worship and celebration for the work God is doing in Haiti right now. And they have decided to extend the crusade for another week!
Doug took these photos of the crusade.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp