Thank you for your prayers! Bernie, David Morley, and I arrived safely and without any complications in Haiti on Monday morning. And after a couple of brief stops in Port-au-Prince, drove two hours north to Gonave Bay for the Pastors’ Conference that Starfish Ministries sponsors each year.
As I shared last month, this year’s topic is “Developing Effective Leaders” within the church. I’ve taught two sessions so far, and I’m encouraged by the response as I’ve interacted with many of the pastors, listening to accounts of their victories and challenges in this area and seeking to answer their questions based on the truth of Scripture.
Now, on Tuesday afternoon, the pastors are enjoying some personal time relaxing and reflecting, Dad and David have gone to Bethel to meet with two young Haitian men who are doing some work for Starfish, and I have stayed back to write this letter to you.
I was struck this morning by something Pastor Diogene shared. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the details of where he was during the earthquake and what happened immediately following. But it was the first time I heard it from Diogene. And he offered a perspective – an understanding – that was important.
Diogene, along with his wife, Lionette and their evangelistic team, were in the church basement praying and planning their next crusade for a village in northern Haiti. Diogene said, “We were inside the church planning, but at that moment, God wanted us outside the church preaching the gospel.” Once the earthquake stopped and the team went out to the street, Diogene preached the Word, and 16 people turned from their sin and trusted Jesus Christ. The church building was unusable, so they began to hold services and crusades in the street outside the church. And in the days and weeks that followed, 800 people responded to the gospel.
Pastor Diogene and the team had one vision. And it was a good vision. They had heard the clear call in Scripture to bring the gospel to the lost, and they were planning in obedience to that call. But God had something different in mind – a different, better way to accomplish His purposes. And when He changed their plan, Diogene and team willing set aside their vision and accepted his way instead.
This was also the experience of the Apostle Paul. He was called to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, and so, according to Acts 16:7, he and Silas “attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” Paul, too, when the Lord changed Paul’s plans, willingly complied, and went to Troas instead.
That is the way we desire to operate Starfish Ministries as well. God’s Word is clear about our responsibility to the poor and the lost. And we continually seek ways to obey those commands as we consider needs and opportunities and requests. Like Diogene’s team, we pray and we plan. But we don’t ever want to become so committed to our own plans that we miss God’s greater plan. We believe that God will accomplish His purposes in Haiti, and we want to ensure that we line up with His will.
Thank you for your support and prayers. And please continue to pray. Glenn, who was unable to make the trip because of an illness that began while in Haiti in May, has not improved and needs prayer. Our trip schedule is printed below; we appreciate your prayers for us as well.
Serving our Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp
- August 30 – Pastors’ conference begins at noon – approximately 80 Haitian pastors– Philip teaching
- August 31 – Pastors’ conference continues – Philip teaching
- September 1 – Complete Pastors’ conference at noon and travel to Tricotte.
- September 2 – 4 – Ministering in Tricotte in orphanage and in surrounding villages – Philip and Dave building benches for the Tricotte church. Bernie will be working with Diogene and Norius on the upcoming school year – planning and budgeting
- September 5 – Philip will be preaching in the Tricotte church – message on the “Letter to the Laodician Church” from Revelations 3
- September 6 – 7 – Leadership conference – approximately 200 leaders from the Tricotte area churches will assemble in Tricotte for this two day conference – Philip teaching
- September 6 – 8 – Dave will continue on projects – We will also be sorting through and distributing clothes, school supplies, shoes, etc from the recently arrived container.
- September 9 – travel back to Port au Prince
- September 10 — visit the “new home” sites – we have started building homes for some who lost them in the earthquake.
- September 11 – return home