One of the challenges we face in the ministry in Haiti is in the area of dependency. It has always been our desire to help the Haitians in such a way that they can become independent. And that is not easy! Much of their cultural history is one of dependency and they often can’t see their way out of that. But we are determined to continue to do whatever we can to break this bondage of dependency.
We try to do this in every aspect of our ministry. With our orphanage ministry we have the children growing small gardens in order to help provide for some of the food needs. They also have daily chores to do and are learning the value of working. They are taught that we are there to help them move from needing help to providing for themselves and others.
In our school ministry our goal is that every school in every village moves toward total independence as well. We are a ways off from accomplishing this but we are making small advances. We had almost 100% of the parents pay tuition for their child’s education this past year. This is a small amount, only $50 Haitian dollars per year ($6.03 US), but it’s a start. If the parent cannot pay this we give them options – they can provide water for cooking, wood for the cooking fire or cleaning the classrooms. In Morne Chaise a mother carried water to pay for the tuition for three children and was very faithful in this, so we hired her to continue carrying after the tuition was paid. With this paying job she is now able to provide for her family’s other needs as well.
We have also used goats to help the parents establish their economy. We have given out hundreds of goats to families to help them start or add to a small herd. They are required then to give back the first born so that we can give that one to another needy family. Many of you have given money for goats and we are very grateful for that.
As we get ready to launch our medical ministry at our new Tricotte Medical Clinic we are again determined that this ministry will quickly move toward independence. This will not be a free clinic – the patients will be required to pay for the medical service. We do recognize of course that there will need to be a benevolent fund available for some, but our goal will be to build that into the other fees. We have told our Haitian leadership team that we will help with start up costs for up to one year, and then the clinic will need to be totally independent.
With God’s help we believe this will be accomplished. As it becomes a reality it will give Starfish Ministries the opportunity to reach out into more needy areas, teaching and preaching the gospel as we help with physical needs.
God has been so faithful and we thank Him and praise Him for all He has done in Haiti through Starfish Ministries. And He has used you to accomplish His desires in reaching out to the needy of Haiti. Thank you so much for your generosity – many of you have supported financially for most of our years of ministry. God continues to use you to accomplish His purposes.
Some of you have asked about our upcoming projects so I will share a few:
- Sound System for evangelistic crusades – Approximate cost $20,000; currently have $12,010 for this need.
- New dormitory for the boys at the orphanage. We recently purchased a small piece of land adjoining the orphanage. The current building will be used for much needed storage space, a small library and some trade school — Approximate cost – $50,000
- Church building in Ti-David – we currently have a temporary structure there that is overflowing each Sunday. Many have been saved in Ti-David during the past year or so and more are coming to Christ every week. The people have begun carrying rocks, sand and gravel for the building’s foundation. Our Haitian leadership is estimating the need for a church building to serve approximately 800 worshippers. Approximate cost – $70,000
- 15 – 20 small houses in Morne Chaise – we started a school here four years ago and a church a year ago. We have found that this is the poorest of the villages we are ministering in. Many of the people here live in mud huts with thatch roofs, and during the rainy season they can’t keep the water out. They are willing and able to partner with us to provide rocks, sand & gravel and some labor to build their homes. Approximate cost – $3500 each.
- Radio Station – Director Daniel and Pastor Esau have presented their thoughts about the possibility to reach tens of thousands of unreached people with the gospel through a Radio Station ministry. Approximate cost – $125,000
As I was writing this Daniel called me from Haiti. He had just been offered another piece of land adjoining the orphanage. We have been trying for years to purchase more land for the orphanage needs without success but now within a few months this piece is available also. If we are able to purchase this land it will allow the orphans more opportunity to put in gardens and provide for more of their food needs. Approximate cost — $5000
All of the above will help us to reach out to more needy Haitians. Our ministry has always been more about building the gospel into lives than about building buildings. But it does take buildings, land, sound systems, etc. to accomplish this.
Thanks for your faithful prayers and support,
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp
One more note: Our Haitian Director Daniel and his wife Madeline were blessed with their first child in May. New son Taylor Daniel Thelusmond is doing very well along with his dad and mom.