The end of 2022 marks 25 years of ministry in Haiti with Starfish Ministries. That also means that this is likely Newsletter #301. When God called us to this ministry, we never could have imagined all that He had in mind. Starting with 27 children in the orphanage in January 1998 and that number growing to over 100 within a couple of years. And then adding four schools in 2000 with a total of approximately 900 students and adding more schools and children for several years. That all meant construction projects that created jobs for an average of 25 construction workers.
Through out the 25 years there were several natural disasters – hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. We were able to help rebuild houses and provide new houses for over 100 families over those years.
The medical clinic in Tricotte was a major project and accomplishment and is now providing medical care for thousands in the Tricotte area. Mobile clinics in distant, remote villages have been a tremendous outreach ministry as well. The clinic now has 14 full-time staff, which includes three doctors, one dentist, four nurses, a pharmacist, two lab technicians, and other support staff.
Several years ago, the school ministry added two high schools, one in Ti-David and one in Tricotte. This has added approximately more 30 staff members.
And then most recently we have begun an Elderly and Handicap Ministry. This ministry reaches out to all the villages where we have schools and churches to identify the neediest older Haitains who have almost no one to care for them. Along with this we are finding many of these people living in conditions that are simply not suitable. That means helping as many as possible with proper housing. We currently have five new staff members to carry out this ministry.
Although the humanitarian help is necessary and critical in many cases, it is not our primary goal in serving in each of these areas. First and foremost, these ministries are operated in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and His salvation for sin-sick souls. Thousands of Haitians have responded to the gospel through these ministries during these 25 years. Second, our purpose is to help as many as possible attain their full potential. Education, whether academic or trade and business training, and help through micro-loans, employment opportunities, and more have helped to reach this goal.
Here are a few examples of those helped during these 25 years.
Dr. Bruno – from the orphanage, through high school, university, and medical school to now being the head doctor at the Tricotte Clinic
Dr. Joel – a Tricotte village boy, supported through high school, medical school with an emphasis in dentistry to now being the dentist in our Tricotte Clinic
Sheila – from the orphanage, through high school, university to a degree in business administration and now the secretary of our elementary school in Tricotte.
Nodi – from a very sick boy in the orphanage to a trade degree in plumbing and electric to now being the Starfish Ministries watermaster, daily maintaining the water quality for human consumption.
These are just a few of over 200 total current staff members. These are all working under the very capable leadership of our Haitian director, Daniel Thelusmond.
God has blessed this ministry so much. You prayer warriors and financial supporters have made all of this possible. Thank you so much for your generous support! This year’s Christmas giving is so appreciated – so many will be helped in their education, businesses, Christmas gifts, Bibles, Songbooks, goats, chickens and so much more due to your response.
And most important, lives are being helped and, in some cases, restored. Lives like that of Guette Joseph. Guette lives in one of the remote villages that is part of the elderly ministry. He is 65 years old, blind, and recently lost his wife. His only son doesn’t care for him at all. Guette’s neighbors try to help him as much as possible. Recently Philius came along side him and has begun sharing food and fellowship with him. Philius tells us that as he and our team have stepped in to help Guette, more of his neighbors have now pitched in to help also. We trust that God will use this ministry to not only meet Guette’s physical needs but also that he will respond to the gospel as Philius shares with him.
To God be all the glory for GREAT things He has done,
Thank you for your partnership with us,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp