I received a message from Director Daniel in Haiti early Sunday morning, June 25. He asked me when a good time for us would be to communicate. Since we were on our way to our worship gathering, I suggested that we talk shortly after noon. So Daniel called me in the early afternoon. That’s when I receive the disturbing news that one of our Starfish Ministries pastors had been kidnapped for ransom.
Pastor Carius Petit-Frere has been an important member of our ministry for most of our years of serving in Haiti. He started as a fourth-grade teacher in our school in Tricotte. When we started a school in Nan-Paul a couple of years later, we promoted Carius to the headmaster position of that school. And shortly thereafter Carius was instrumental in planting a church in Nan-Paul which he led as a lay-pastor. He recognized his limitations to pastor that body and began a three-year summer Bible School Program.
When we started a work in Ti-David a couple of years later, now Pastor Carius moved there to lead the startup of that school and church. In more recent years Pastor Carius has been part of the school and church plant in the village of Belair and now pastors in the village of Morne-Chaise. In addition to those duties, Pastor Carius has taught Bible in our High Schools in Tricotte and Ti-David.
Pastor Carius and his wife have two children, both in their late teens.
As normal, on this Sunday morning, Pastor Carius went to Morne-Chaise early to prepare for the worship services and his preaching opportunity. During the Sunday School hour prior to the worship service, Pastor Carius was sitting in the back of the assembly when several motorcycles approached the building. The kidnappers knew who they were looking for, immediately went to Pastor Carius and led him out of the building, taking him to an undisclosed location.
The headmaster of our Morne-Chaise elementary school, Willy, who is also Pastor Carius’ assistant pastor, was able to talk to Pastor Carius a couple hours later by telephone. It sounded like he was not being mistreated but when the kidnappers came on the phone, they demanded $800,000 US for the release of Pastor Carius.
Willy will be taking the lead in the negotiations. Pastor Carius’ brothers, Norius, Renaud and Jonal will be helping Willy make decisions on how to proceed. Our director Daniel will be available for consultation but as much as possible will stay out of the negotiations for obvious reasons. Our expectation, based on the history of kidnapping in Haiti, is that this process will take a week or so and the amount settled upon will be very significantly less than the asking amount.
We write this newsletter early this month to inform you of this crisis time in our ministry. We cherish your prayers and ask you to do so with the following in mind.
• Pastor Carius’ safety – that no harm will come to him
• Wisdom for Daniel, Willy and Carius’ brothers as they negotiate
• A speedy release
• Pastor Carius’ wife and children – comfort and peace
• Pastor Carius will have the opportunity to share the gospel with his captors and God would work in those lives
• God will use this trial in all of those involved, us included, to draw us closer to Him and teach us what His purposes are as we navigate difficult times
• That God will be glorified
Thank you for standing with us with your prayers. God is so good and we expectantly look to Him as we travel this challenge today.
Your partnership with us is so appreciated. Many of you tell us that you pray for us and this ministry very regularly. Thank you! Praise be to God from whom all blessings flow!
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp
Note: Starfish Ministries does not intend to be financially involved with ransom demands. We will examine each situation on a case-by-case basis but will not use any designated funds if we find it necessary to help.