May 2010 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

In an email/website update on April 21, we shared a bit about how we’re moving into the next phase of earthquake relief, as we begin the process of helping families rebuild homes.  And we wanted to expand a little more on how we are approaching that.

Our philosophy in all ministry is to support and equip Haitians to be successful in helping themselves and ministering to others.  At times that means teaching and training them.  Other times it means providing financial support.  And sometimes it means doing those things they aren’t yet equipped to do in order that they might succeed where God has gifted them.  We don’t want to descend on the country and attempt to fix all of their problems for them.  Rather, we desire to work beside them – or to stand behind them – and help them do the things God has called them to do. Continue Reading →

Disaster Relief Update

Dear Friends,

We wanted to take a few moments and share with you where we are in our disaster relief efforts in Port-au-Prince and how we have been using the resources you’ve helped to supply.  As Pastor Diogene indicated in our update Monday, we have supplied food to approximately 10,000 people since the earthquake in January, and for many of those, this was their primary source of food.  Our family sponsorship ministry – where sponsors have committed to supporting a family for a six-month period while they re-establish their lives – has been going strong for the last two months, with more than 100 families sponsored.  And now we are preparing to help families reconstruct homes lost in the earthquake.

Our approach to this reconstruction will be to support Haitians as they rebuild.  Where some might be inclined to descend on Port-au-Prince and rebuild for them, we believe this kind of supportive partnership is a better course of action.  And our support will come in several ways: 

  1. Financial.  The way we’ve done this in the past (after the 2008 hurricanes) was to pay for materials for one phase of construction at a time, such as the foundation or the walls.  The homeowner provided the labor.  And when that phase was completed and inspected, we financed the next phase.
  2.  Labor assistance in specific, specialized areas.  We brought in a team that installed the metal roofing on several of the homes built in 2008-2009.
  3.  Guidance through the construction process.  Using our Haitian partners, we want to visit and encourage these homeowners regularly while ensuring proper construction.

Pastor Diogene has suggested that we reevaluate some of the outdated construction methods used on many Haitian homes.  We agree with him that, while we want to use familiar and available materials (concrete blocks, metal roofing, etc.), there are techniques that will streamline construction and produce a better, more solid home.  These range from small changes in the mortar that will increase its strength to better methods for tying together walls.  Our goal is to keep things “Haitian” while being good stewards of the resources we’ve been given and producing well-built homes that will last for many years.  So Glenn and Doug, along with our Haitian construction partners, are in the process of evaluating building methods right now.  Pray for wisdom for them as they consider these things.

As always, thank you for the part you play in supporting our Haitian brothers and sisters, especially during these difficult times for them.

Serving our Lord together,

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp

February 2009 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

I’m relaxing at the guesthouse in Port-au-Prince , Monday, January 26, waiting for the arrival of a team from North County Christ the King Church. The weather here is perfect – gets up to about 80 during the day and down to 70 at night. January is by far the best month to spend in Haiti when one considers the temperature.

The team will be spending next week putting on roofs and pouring concrete floors in six houses of the flood victims in Bethel. The people have been preparing for us to arrive. They have hauled sand and gravel from the river. They have dug their foundation hole. And they have helped the masons make cement blocks and install them. The walls are now standing and ready for the floors and roofs for their new houses. Then at the end of our week of work we will have the joy of worshipping together with God’s people on Sunday. We trust that God will use this time in Haiti to impact each of our lives as we serve Him by serving needy Haitians. Continue Reading →

November 2008 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

How exciting it is to see God at work! We are so THANKFUL for you who partner with us in ministry to the needy in Haiti. Last month Philip wrote about the storm damage in Haiti and the resulting needs for flood victims who lost their homes. Many of you have responded by praying for these people and many have given generously to help make a difference in these lives. Philip wrote that we had enough money for eight houses at the beginning of October. Now we have enough for over 20 houses! That is huge and we THANK YOU!

During the storms in early September, Philip, Glenn, Art Berry and I were in Tricotte. We thought we would be drilling a well In Camass, a village nearby, but instead we spent 11 days waiting out the storm in Tricotte. We did stay very busy doing projects in Tricotte that otherwise never seem to get done. That was good. We also spent time praying that the people of Haiti would look to Jesus Christ to meet their physical needs but more importantly to meet their spiritual need. Continue Reading →

October 2008 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Late in 1997, my parents, Bernie and Sheryl, began a ministry in Haiti. They had been involved in Haiti through another organization for several years, but here God opened new opportunities, and they responded by founding Starfish Ministries in January of 1998.

As many of you know, the Starfish name comes from a story that begins, “One day, after a particularly severe storm . . .” and goes on to tell of young boy who finds thousands of starfish stranded on a beach, dying, and with no way back into the water. The boy picks up starfish after starfish and throws them into the ocean, until a man stops him to tell him that with all of the starfish on the beach, nothing one little boy does can possibly make any difference. The boy shows the man the starfish he’s just picked up and says, “It makes a difference to this one.” Continue Reading →