“Starfish Ministries,” Sheryl answered the telephone from the converted spare bedroom that serves as the Starfish office.
“May I please speak to the person in charge of fundraising?” asked the woman on the other end of the line.
“You need to speak with Bernie,” Sheryl responded. She handed him the receiver.
“This is Bernie.”
“Are you in charge of fundraising?”
“No. No, not me,” he said.
“Oh, I’m sorry. May I ask who is then?”
“That would be God.”
There was a long pause. “I’m not sure I understand,” she finally said.
Bernie took that opportunity to share with her God’s faithfulness since calling Sheryl and him to this ministry more than a decade ago. From the beginning, when they were unsure how they would manage the responsibility of providing for the original 27 children in the orphanage, God made it clear to them that it ultimately was not their responsibility. It was His. He is the One who would provide for these children. They would simply be the stewards of that provision. At that time, God gave Bernie and Sheryl this Scripture: “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). When God called, He promised that He would make it happen. And He has kept His word at every turn.
Since that initial call to take over administration of the orphanage, God has called many additional times: to expand the orphanage, to begin supporting schools, to build churches, to rebuild homes after the recent hurricanes, and to start the feeding program (which is Starfish’s largest single budget item, currently feeding approximately 5500 children). With each of these new calls – and many more like them – God has provided.
God’s provision has, at times, been dramatic. More than once, the month has been winding down and there has not been enough money to meet the budget only to have a large unexpected check arrive that covered everything. And those times have brought tears of joy over God’s faithfulness.
But the dramatic is not the norm. Most of the time, God has provided in a much more quiet way, through the faithful giving of those who support this ministry. You who sponsor children in the orphanage and at the schools and those who consistently give in other areas have been God’s kept-promise, the quiet means He has used to bring to pass His work in Haiti.
I am reminded of the account in 1 Kings 19 when Elijah was on Horeb, the mountain of God, to hear from the Lord. And there was a mighty wind, but the Lord was not in the wind. And there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Finally there was a gentle breeze, and in it the Lord came to Elijah. God could have used something spectacular to announce Himself, and sometimes He does. But on that day He chose to make Himself known in the quietness of the gentle breeze.
You are the gentle breeze that God has been using in Haiti – in Tricotte and the surrounding villages, in Bethel, and in Port-au-Prince. God can do anything He desires. He commands the wind and the fire. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He can deliver them any way He chooses. But He chooses to use us.
So I thank God for you. I thank Him for you because, Bernie, my dad, does not need to spend his time strategizing on the telephone with a telemarketer as to how they are going to feed several thousand children for one more month. God, through your generosity, has taken care of that. I thank Him that we don’t need to worry about how we are going to accomplish anything. He is the One who accomplishes everything. And I thank Him, that in His infinite grace, He has chosen to allow us to be a part of His work in the country of Haiti.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie & Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp