I was in Haiti for a week in the middle of May. For the most part it was an administrative trip. Our Haitian director, Daniel T, and I spent many hours together, praying and discussing God’s work in Haiti. It was a very productive time and I really appreciate Daniel and his God given skills and wisdom and leadership.
The Sunday I was there, Daniel and I ministered in Belair. The new building has been used for worship services for about six weeks. There were approximately 130 Belair worshipers that day. I asked how many of them had been involved in helping to build the road from Tricotte to Belair and almost everyone responded with a thunderous hand-clapping and “Amens”. We talked about God’s plan to use them for reaching the lost in their neighborhood as well as in the other villages.
Our evangelist, Pastor Herod, and two men whom he is disciplining, travel on foot to the village of Charbe every Thursday to lead a Bible Study. The new Christians there are hungry for the teaching and over 40 are meeting each week. A couple of weeks ago it was raining on Thursday afternoon but that didn’t stop Herod and his team. They went up and many still came even though the Bible Study was outside and they were getting rained on. Herod came to Daniel and me the next day with a budget proposal to build a temporary structure. His estimated budget was $17,000 Haitian dollars which exchanges to about $1000 U.S. We approved the budget, purchased the materials and the next day the people from Charbe were carrying those materials on their heads to Charbe. We were able to lease a piece of land for five years to put this temporary structure on. That cost was $2000 Haitian dollars exchanging to about $118 U.S.
One of the leaders of the village of Belair and now a church leader is Philius Charles. Philius has been volunteering his time throughout the road construction, school building and the church excavation. He is 43 years old, married to Ilianise and they have four children, 17, 15, 13 and 5 years old. The three older children are in our high school in Tricotte and Daniel says that the oldest is “a bright star in the galaxy of our high school”. She had a slow start due to no school in Belair when she was a little girl but is catching up quickly.
Philius loves sharing his testimony of how God rescued him from voodoo. He was born into a family that worshiped the devil, and his mother wanted him to become a voodoo priest just like his older brother. He was initiated at a young age, but God had other plans for him. Philius heard the gospel, and through a series of events, he came to reject the power of darkness and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to save him from his sin.
But life isn’t easy for a new Christian from a family heavily invested in voodoo. As soon as he told him mother of his conversion to Christ, she kicked him out of the home. Homeless and destitute, he remained faithful to his Savior. He began sharing the gospel with anyone who would listen, and even started preaching in the streets.
The devil wasn’t ready to accept defeat with Philius, and Philius experienced a series of apparently demonic-inspired trials. But God is faithful, and God delivered Philius from the hands of the devil.
That was more than 20 years ago. Today Philius is the treasurer for the church in Belair, where he also leads music and occasionally preaches.
Philius is yet another example of what God promises in a verse I quote often: “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). God called Philius, and God has proven himself faithful in his life over and over.
On June 3, Pastor Herod and his team will be hiking to Pendu to share the gospel. Then on June 5 they are planning to go to Cadet. These two villages are also very remote and the travel time is about two hours up the mountain on foot. However, they are have great compassion for the lost and are willing to suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ. The voodoo leaders in these villages, influenced by Satan, are not pleased with what’s happening. Their stronghold is being broken down and their livelihood in jeopardy.
Please pray for Pastor Herod and his team, for Philius and his family, for the church of Belair as they reach out, for Daniel as he leads the Starfish Ministries team in Haiti. Thank you so much for making all this possible. Your prayers and financial support as so important!!
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl and Philip Bovenkamp