Greetings from Port-au-Prince, Haiti! I arrived here yesterday afternoon, March 28, and will handle administrative opportunities for the next week. This morning I visited with Daniel Fontil for a couple of hours. This Daniel (as distinguished from our Director Daniel) is one of our former orphanage children who is now living in Port-au-Prince, teaching third grade while waiting to begin STEP Seminary in September.
Daniel came to the Starfish Ministries Orphanage in 1998 when he was 12 years old. He came from a family of 15 children who lived in a mud hut in the village of Jean Rabel in the far northwest corner of Haiti. Daniel’s life was difficult as a child – sometime they had food, sometimes not. But he did go to school and always did well in his academics.
Within a couple weeks of Daniel’s arrival at the orphanage we had a team from Sunrise Baptist Church of Custer, Washington, ministering at the orphanage. Daniel recalls Pastor Jon Aldrich, who began talking to him and asked him if he knew Jesus. He responded that day, “Who is Jesus?” Pastor Jon then shared with Daniel, prayed for him and Daniel received Jesus as his Savior that day. He told me this morning, “I have never turned back; that was the best day of my life!”
During the next few years Daniel excelled in school, always at the top of his class or close to it. He and his friend Baurace competed for that top spot each year and the competition served them well. But when it was time for Daniel to take his final official government examination to get his high school diploma, there was a paperwork problem and he was turned away. It took almost a year to get the problem solved and five days before the next opportunity to take the exam Daniel prayed, believing God and a phone call came telling him to go to the Education Ministries Offices. Two days later Daniel was able to take the exam!
The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti disrupted Daniel’s education plans again. Daniel was in his second story house, studying mathematics when he saw the walls begin to move back and forth. Concrete blocks began to rain down on him – he was hit hard on his head. After the shaking stopped, his friends came into the room and since he was knocked unconscious, they assumed he was dead. They left to protect themselves – two hours later they found Daniel walking on the street in only his shorts. They took him to another location and Daniel has no recollection of the next eight days. When he did “wake up,” he didn’t even know who he was. He said that Baurace stayed close at his side and helped teach him about himself until he was well again. God used that time in Daniel’s life to continue to grow him closer to Himself.
The first half of 2012 Daniel was back at the orphanage working as an educational tutor for the children struggling in school. Due to some continued complications from his earthquake injuries and being sick a lot, he decided not to start seminary this past September and instead found a job teaching school for this 2012-2013 school term. He told me this morning that his health is now good and he is excited about starting seminary in September of this year.
Following his heart passion for the lost, Daniel and some friends started a ministry called MEA (Ministries of Evangelization in Action). Every Sunday afternoon they go out two by two and share Jesus with people of all ages in their neighborhood, in the streets, in the jails and in the hospitals. And many have trusted the Savior! As a result Daniel now leads several small groups as he makes disciples. He has also just been elected President of the Youth Group of his church. Over 80 youth meet weekly under Daniel’s leadership. God is using him in so many ways to reach the lost and build up the body of Jesus Christ!
When I asked him about his future Daniel immediately quoted Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Daniel went on to say, “I will seek God and He will lead me. I know I was almost dead, but God has a purpose for my life. I would like to lead/pastor a church that seeks God, not money, not houses, not cars or anything else, just God!”
The Daniels of Haiti are why we are here ministering in Haiti. We are here to build into the lives of these children and adults who will become the leaders for Christ in this country! We praise God for what He is doing in each life. We praise God for Jon and Linda Aldrich who have sponsored Daniel since 1998. God has used them to make a significant difference in Daniel’s life as they have prayed for him and supported him financially.
Thank you for your partnership and support for the work in Haiti. God is using you to accomplish much!
In His service,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp