February 2004 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Due to the current political situation in Haiti, I’m not there. Pastor Diogene called me a few days before I was to leave and said it was difficult to travel in the country due to the “manifestations.” The Haitians demonstrate by burning tires to block roads and by marching down the streets in large crowds not allowing traffic to proceed. In order to get to the Tricotte area, we have to travel a little in Port-au-Prince and then through several large towns. Getting through these towns when the people are demonstrating isn’t possible. They totally block off all possible routes. So we’ll wait for a couple of months and pray that things will cool off.

But the ministry goes forward. Diogene was able to spend considerable time in the Tricotte area this month. He made it to all twelve villages where we have schools and spent time with the headmasters and teachers. He also checked on the progress of our current construction projects. The new high school in Beaudois is almost completed. The home for our orphanage house parents is also getting the finishing touches. The church building in Ravine has been completed and Pastor Jerome has begun to hold church services there. The church building in Nan-Paul is at the roofing stage. And we have just begun to build classrooms in Bera and Pendu.

It’s so good to see God at work in Haiti in various ways and using different circumstances to accomplish His purpose. Several months ago our dump truck driver, Joe, was traveling from Tricotte to Port-au-Prince to pick up more construction supplies. Driving through the town of Cabaret on a market day can be quite challenging. This was one of those days. Traffic was heavy, moving quite slowly as the road was crowded with marketers buying and selling their produce. Suddenly Joe felt and heard a “thump”! He had hit a man who stepped out in front of the dump truck. Joe jumped out of the truck and went to investigate and found the man was not breathing. It turns out that the man had been drinking and had stumbled into the path of the truck and was killed.

Now Joe’s trouble really began. Haitian law says that no matter who is at fault in this type of situation, the driver of the vehicle must pay the family of the deceased for funeral and other expenses. Joe didn’t have money with him so he was put in jail. Pastor Diogene was notified and the next day was in Cabaret to negotiate Joe’s release.

The judge started at $2000 Haitian (about $250 US) and Diogene said he couldn’t afford that. The judge wanted to know why since he had a dump truck and must be a business man. Diogene went on to explain that he was a pastor and the director of Starfish Ministries. The dump truck was used for the construction of schools and churches. The judge was very interested and wanted to know more about the ministry. He then asked Diogene if he would come and start a school in Bethel, his home village. Diogene made an appointment with him to go visit Bethel a couple of weeks later. The judge lowered the “death” payment to $800 Haitian (about $100 US) and Joe was released.

Pastor Diogene did go to Bethel with the judge. There is currently no school or church in this village. Some of the children walk several miles to the nearest school but most just don’t go. The next time I was in Haiti we went to see the village and began to pray concerning the needs there. We sense God leading us to start a school in Bethel.

On Sunday afternoon, January 18, Diogene and several of the Port-au-Prince church leaders also went to Bethel. They went from hut to hut and shared with the people there. They found no Christians but most of the people were excited about the possibility of a school in their village. Our next step is to find property to purchase so that we can build and start a school and be able to share the love of Jesus with the children of that village and eventually hope to see many receive Christ as Savior .

Through very negative circumstances, God has opened the door for us to reach out to these spiritually needy people in Bethel. Please pray with us concerning this new opportunity. We appreciate each of you and your prayer and financial support. God continues to use us together with you to reach needy Haitians.

Serving the Lord together,

Bernie & Sheryl Bovenkamp

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