Bernie and Sheryl Bovenkamp founded Starfish Ministries in 1998 to share the love of Jesus with the needy people of Haiti. But they had no idea what God had planned. What they thought was going to be a small ministry serving a couple of dozen children has touched the lives of thousands.
Sharing the Love of Christ with the Needy in Haiti
Bernie and Sheryl Bovenkamp had been involved in Haiti with Childcare International, a Christian non-profit organization focused on feeding educating needy children. In 1992, Bernie had helped to construct an orphanage in Haiti with Childcare, and since then the Bovenkamps had made several trips to Haiti to help with the organization's administrative needs in the country.
The Starfish Ministries Orphanage
In 1997, Childcare decided to refocus their ministry, and asked Bernie and Sheryl if they would take over administration of the orphanage. They agreed, and in January of 1998, Starfish Ministries was founded.
The orphanage had fewer than 30 children in it when the Bovenkamps first took over. But it soon grew to exceed its capacity of 48. So they began to construct a larger orphanage in the village of Tricotte in the mountains of northern Haiti, and moved in 1998 allowing Starfish to minister to many more children.
Starfish Ministries Schools and Feeding Program
In 1999, Starfish had the opportunity to begin to support schools in the area. Most Haitian in this region don't have access to education, and literacy is low. So Starfish began to provide full support for school in four nearby villages. These schools provide a solid education to the children, but more importantly, the children hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. The school ministry has continued to grow to where Starfish now serves thousands of children in many schools.
Before long, it became evident that many of the children who were attending these schools were malnourished. So Starfish began a feeding program in each of schools. It is expensive to feed so many children, but God has faithfully provided.
Outreach and Other Ministry
Spreading the gospel of Jesus has always been Starfish's primary desire. To that end, they have partnered with Haitian churches in evangelist crusades. Hundred of Haitians have come to Christ through these crusades, and churches have been established in many villages. Starfish has sponsored pastor and lay-leader trainer to equip people from those villages to serve those churches.
Additionally, Starfish has been involved in disaster relief after the earthquake of 2010 and the hurricanes of 2008. They have built homes for needy Haitians and have drilled wells in communities where there was no clean water. And most recently, Starfish has constructed a medical clinic in the village of Tricotte.
God has accomplished much through Starfish in the last 16 years, and it is exciting to anticipate what He will in the future.
Starfish Ministries Website
Visit the Starfish Ministries website for more information
Back in the Bay: The Starfish Story
Starfish Ministries took its name from the Starfish Story. Back in the Bay is a children's book that expands on that story.