June 2008 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

I’m sitting in for Bernie (this is his son, Philip) on newsletter detail this month. Having recently returned from Haiti, I am brimming with news of what our Lord is doing there, and Dad has graciously allowed me this space to share a bit with you.

During the day in the Tricotte area, our group of seven Americans went separate ways: Vince Buys was in nearby Remoussen with his two Haitian co-workers drilling a well, Kimberlyn Bridges was often to be found at the orphanage ministering to the girls there, and Dad led Joe Seabrook, myself, and others across the Haitian landscape to remote mountain villages to visit Starfish schools where children were being educated and fed. Each evening we all came together, and after praising the Lord in song, we shared the day’s lessons and experiences with each other.

One evening just a few days into our time in Haiti, Glenn shared about his day. Earlier this year Starfish drilled a well in Tricotte, and God provided an abundance of good, clean water. One of Glenn’s goals for this trip was to install a solar-powered pump and some plumbing in order to take full advantage of the water. The plan was to pump the majority of the water into a basin that would supply a centrally-located community hydrant. Smaller amounts of water would be diverted into two other basins for ministry use at other places in the village. Glenn already had the pump and the solar panels that would power it, and the basins were in place. But he still needed a significant amount of 1″ PVC pipe. If he could buy 1700 feet, he figured, that would be plenty. So that morning he and Jonal took the truck and headed for Gonaïves, about two hours away.

PVC was not easy to find in Gonaïves. Glenn and Jonal were turned away at store after store. There just wasn’t any pipe available. Finally, they had only one place left to try. Here is what Glenn shared with the rest of us that evening: “I stopped the truck, and we prayed. I prayed, ‘This is your deal, God. If this is what you want, I know you’re able. But it’s up to you.'” Then Glenn started the truck and drove to the last store. When they arrived they found the PVC wholesaler there delivering 1600 feet of 1″ PVC pipe! (Apparently, God knew that Glenn had padded his estimated by 100 feet.) Once again God provided, and He did so in a way that brought glory to His name and reminded us that the plumbing project – as well as everything Starfish is involved with in Haiti – is indeed His deal.

A few days later I was with Glenn and his brother Doug as they were testing the pump and plumbing (and many Haitians were gratefully filling water buckets in the middle of the village). Indicating the pump box, Glenn said to me, “We need to write something on there that will give the glory to Jesus – in Creole, so everyone who walks by will know what it says.” Because my Creole isn’t so good, I hustled off to enlist Pastor Diogene’s help for the assignment. Here’s what we came up with:

Jezi se dlo vivan-an. Jean 4:13-14

In English this means, “Jesus is the living water.” The reference is John 4:13-14, where Jesus is talking with the woman at the well, and He says to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”

Ultimately that is the truth that permeates Starfish Ministries and motivates everything we do. I see it over and over. When Vince drills a well, it isn’t just about finding water. He never forgets that he is representing Christ to a village of people, many of whom are still unbelievers. When Joe helps a young Haitian study English, it’s more than just a mission-trip project. Joe loves the young man with a love only possible through Christ. And when Dad arrives in a village for the first time, he is keenly aware that he isn’t an American ambassador for Starfish Ministries; he’s a heavenly ambassador for the Kingdom of God, and he’s humbled by that awesome responsibility.

Jesus is the living water. And His Church is like the PVC pipe that God supplied in Gonaïves last week. We are the vessels He has chosen to bring that water to a lost world, whether that means a villager in Tricotte or the neighbor across the street.

It’s a big job and a weighty responsibility, but God is faithful and will continue to give us the strength to do everything He asks. Ultimately, it’s really His responsibility. So when things begin to seem overwhelming, when the task seems too big, I just remember Glenn’s prayer: “This is your deal, God.”.

Serving the Lord together, 

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp