Each time I am in Haiti I enjoy going to the orphanage for the children’s evening devotions. The older ones lead and all the children take part in singing, praying and scripture recitation. One particular evening I was drawn to the bright, shining face of Celine. She was singing her heart out in praises to her Savior. As I observed Celine that night, my mind went back to the first time I saw her. It was November of 2001. A team was there and we were visiting the village of Ravine where we had just started a new school. This is what Sheryl wrote after we returned home.
As we came to the Ravine school Monday morning, Bernie noticed a little girl sitting off by herself a distance from the school building. She was dirty, undernourished, dressed in rags, and sadly looking on to what was not hers to enjoy. Upon asking Pastor Diogene about this child, he learned that both of Celine’s parents had died. She now lived with a guardian aunt, who struggled to feed and care for her own children. Pastor Diogene asked the aunt if she would be open to the child being taken to the orphanage. The aunt quickly agreed. Tuesday morning we returned and took little 7 year old Celine to the orphanage with us. After a bath, finding a clean little dress and even a pair of shoes that fit, it took Celine no time at all to settle in. Wednesday afternoon as she and I walked along the path in Tricotte she started jabbering to me. How I wished I’d learned Creole. The words I did not understand, but the message of her eyes was clear, “I am glad to be here.” And I could only speak in strange words to her, “I am glad to have a new friend! And I am glad that one at a time, God cares for His own.
Now it is four and a half years later and what a transformation I see in little Celine. She’ll turn 12 years old on May 7. She is no longer dirty. Her hair is a sharp, black color as opposed to the rusty color of a girl suffering from malnutrition. She enjoys three meals a day, and the ready smiles on her well-rounded face have replaced the sad look of her past. She no longer has to look on from a distance as the others go to school, but now joins her orphanage brothers and sisters as they receive an education.
The best part of all is not the physical transformation in Celine’s life but the spiritual. Celine prayed to receive Jesus Christ as her personal Savior shortly after coming to the orphanage. She is now a child of God! We trust that God will use Celine as she continues to grow in her relationship with Him. We praise Him for what He has done in rescuing her.
We are seeing many rescued from the filthy rags of sin throughout Haiti. Pastor Diogene shared the following with me, “A young man, who a year ago at Easter would have been taking part in voodoo parties is now singing in the Bethel Church Choir. One young believer asked us to come to his home and burn all the voodoo stuff. So we had a big bonfire and celebration of what God is doing. We had several crusade meetings and 26 more of the lost came to Jesus.”
It is so exciting to see not only individual lives like Celine’s transformed but also villages like Bethel. Thank you for your partnership with us – to be used by God to help make a difference in the Celines of the orphanage and the Haitian villages like Bethel. We praise God for the opportunity to be a small part of what He is doing in Haiti.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie & Sheryl Bovenkamp