2020 has arrived!! A new year to serve in Haiti or wherever God has directed you. 22 years ago God began our journey to minister in Haiti. It has been a very fruitful ministry and we have seen tremendous response to the gospel. A couple of days ago Sheryl asked me how many children I thought that we have had the privilege to feed, educate and share Jesus with during these 22 years. I couldn’t answer precisely but my best guess was a number over 50,000 children. And that opened the door to ministry with many of their parents as well. That is possible as a result of your prayers and support – thank you so much for your partnership with us and helping to make a difference in so many lives!
Our overall focus remains the same – reaching the spiritually bankrupt with the gospel of Jesus Christ, training His followers to grow on their spiritual journey and helping poor and needy Haitians achieve their full potential. This has been pursued by many diverse aspects of serving in Haiti. Starting with the orphanage ministry and on to education, evangelism and church planting, disaster relief, providing pure water, medical clinic, numerous construction projects and the list continues. All for the purpose of opening doors to see Jesus glorified in the lives of the downtrodden who have been seemingly without hope.
At the end of each year our leadership team in Tricotte hosts a spiritual life conference. This starts right after Christmas and ends on New Year’s Eve. They have worship and prayer time each evening along with teaching by Daniel or one of our pastors. The church body packs out the worship center each evening – the last night they often go past midnight. This conference is a great opportunity for believers to sit under good Bible teaching and invite their unsaved neighbors to hear the gospel as well.
You have responded so well to the needs we presented for your consideration for your year-end/Christmas giving. Thank you for your generosity and willingness to fund the ongoing needs of the ministry. This year we focused more on the agricultural/reforestation needs than we have in previous years. For the first time we included “trees” as one of the suggested needs to fund. And your response to this was really great! Almost 1500 trees have been funded along with many tools for farming/gardening and numerous goats and chickens.
Our plan for 2020 and beyond is to put more emphasis on reforestation and help for the Haitians to be more effective in their farming and gardening practices. In order to accomplish this we will need to hire a trained Haitian to head this ministry. We would like to identify an agronomist who can take our vision and passion for seeing forests spring up on the Tricotte and surrounding area hillsides and bring it to pass. That person would also be part of our school curriculum, teaching the children from a very early age to take responsibility for their surrounding environment. I can envision each one of our school children given the responsibility of planting and caring for a couple trees. They would plant one on the school property and another at their home.
Our goal is to plant several different species of trees. Some of them will be fruit trees like Mango, Avocado, Lemon and Lime. Within a few years these would be producing fruit crops that will be able to be harvested for the financial benefit of the growers. We will also plant some Mahogany trees which were native to Haiti. They have been all but deforested out of the land and need to be reintroduced to the area. And then there are Moringa trees that grow fast and have great medicine value. They are also renewable so when cut back will grow back quickly. They have a good root system that helps much with the erosion problem.
On January 23 and 24, Rod Tjoelker, Doug Jarvie and I are meeting our Haitian leaders Daniel and Lucner in Florida for the annual Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) conference. We are extending our stay there in order to meet concerning this agricultural emphasis as well as many other topics important to the ongoing ministry in Haiti. Due to the extended period of unrest in Haiti we haven’t been able to travel there as much as we would like so this time in Florida gives us opportunity to catch up on many of the issues our Haitian leadership encounters every day.
We sure do appreciate you! I know, I probably say this each month – that’s because it is so important to the ongoing needs of the work in Haiti. Your prayers and financial support are much of the impetus that continues to encourage us to “keep pressing on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us”, Philippians 3:12b.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp