It was only two years ago that God called us to start the school ministry. Starting with schools in four villages, the ministry has now grown to schools in nine villages. In addition to that, the enrollment in each school continues to grow — to the extent that this month there will be at least 2115 children in these nine schools. Isn’t this a great opportunity to share the gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth?
In July Glenn and I traveled with Pastor Diogene and our school director, Norius, to visit the four new schools we will begin to support this month. We arrived in the village of Eau-Janvier at about 10:30 in the morning. We had traveled approximately one and a half hours off the main gravel road — through a “big” river, on dirt paths, over and around a rolling hill, through a deep ravine and finally we were there. Forty children were waiting for us with their parents. The children were dressed in their finest clothes, ready to have their pictures taken for sponsorship. Getting them to smile was nearly impossible as they were afraid of us “blancs”. We were probably the first white people they had ever seen in this remote area.
I noticed immediately that most of these children had rusty colored hair. This indicates that they are suffering from malnutrition. The Eau-Janvier area was very dry and the crops were horrible so the people are suffering. Water for drinking, cooking, or bathing is several miles away and arrives in the village in five gallon buckets, carried on the heads of women and girls.
The school headmaster told us there will be about 250 children in the school. I asked him where they hold their classes and he pointed at a roof about 25 feet square, held up by a few small poles. Under that roof were school benches pointing in four different directions, housing four classes. That’s not good learning conditions but at least the roof blocks out the hot sun.
When we finished taking pictures in Eau-Janvier, we drove another 10 – 15 minutes to the village of Grand-Plaine. Here we were greeted by about 25 children waiting for us to take their sponsorship pictures. These children looked even worse – suffering from severe malnutrition. This school has 120 students and meets in a small one room church building with dirt floors.
As we left those two villages, my heart was heavy. What a tremendous need! But as much as my heart breaks for these needy kids, I realize that God loves and cares for each child. Jesus said in Mark 10:14, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus welcomes these hungry children from Eau-Janvier and Grand-Plaine to come to Him. He has invited us to be His instruments to reach into these villages. He has called us to minister to these children and their parents. He has asked us to feed them in Jesus name and to love them for Jesus sake. And He has moved us to educated them in order to ensure a brighter future. We thank God for the opportunity to make a difference in these precious lives.
Thank you for helping, for praying, for sponsoring children, and for partnering with us to make this possible.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie & Sheryl Bovenkamp