February 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

A team from SouthRidge Fellowship in Langley, British Columbia, has just returned from Haiti.  They worked hard, and we thank God for all they were able to accomplish during their 10-day trip.  Their work ranged from physical projects (setting trusses and installing roofing on a new school) to spiritual ministries (they taught VBS at two schools) to nurturing (teaching classes and doing crafts at the orphanage).  But let me share with you about one particular day.

After breakfast and devotions Monday morning, we all loaded into 4-wheel-drive vehicles and spent the next hour traveling one of the worst roads I’ve ever been on, even in Haiti.  Back and forth we traversed through a creek bed, up and down steep inclines, until we finally stopped a few hundred yards short of the school in the village of Corail.

A short time later, nearly 500 children crowded into the church that sits adjacent to the school building.  With Pastor Diogene translating, team members told a Bible story, taught a lesson, and shared a testimony.  Pastor Diogene gave an invitation, and several students came forward, responding to the gospel.  Then the team gathered around them, thanking God for what he had done and praying for God’s provision for them in every way.

It was nearly lunchtime, so the children all returned to their classrooms, where they received their mid-day meal.  That day it was food that had been donated by Feed My Starving Children, a Christian non-profit organization.  As the children were given their bowls of fortified rice, soy, and vegetables, they also received a special treat.  We had purchased enough bottles of soda for every child, and that was something most of them had never experienced.

As the children were enjoying their meal, I saw one young girl slip out of a classroom carrying her unopened bottle.  She left the school grounds, scampered down into a small ravine, crossed a creek, climbed out the other side, and approached a vendor about 50 yards away.  She apparently didn’t find what she was looking for and moved on out of my view.

Several minutes later I saw her coming back toward the school carrying a black plastic bag with what appeared to be her soda bottle inside.  I was curious, so I called over Garry, one of our Haitian partners, and asked him to find out what she was up to.  We met her as she entered the school grounds, and Garry asked her a few questions.

“She said she is saving her soda to give to her mother,” Garry told me.

I was moved by her generosity, this one little girl willing to give up one of the few treats she ever received so that she would have something to give to her mother.  My initial reaction was to find a second soda, so that she could enjoy one herself and still have one to bring home.  But I was immediately struck that this wasn’t the right thing to do.  There is a joy in sacrifice, and I didn’t want to rob it from her.  I imagine what a blessing it was to both mother and daughter as she gave her mother the soda knowing the sacrifice she had made in order to be able to do it.

In Philippians chapter two, Paul tells believers to complete his joy by being of the same mind and having the same love.  He goes on to tell them to consider others more significant than themselves and to look not just to their own interests but also to the interests of others.  This completes Paul’s joy because it completes the cycle of Christian giving.  Christ had given to Paul, and Paul had given to the Philippians.  Now, as he sees the Philippians love and give to each other, he is filled with joy.

That’s how I felt about this little girl, and I trust she moves you in the same way.  She has been blessed through your gifts and support.  And she has responded with selflessness and sacrifice as she thinks of her mother ahead of herself.

Serving the Lord together,

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp