Bernie and Sheryl Bovenkamp founded Starfish Ministries in 1998 to share the love of Christ with needy people in the country of Haiti. Bernie had been involved in Haiti for several years with Childcare International, another Christian organization. And Sheryl had made several trips with him to the country. Childcare asked Bernie and Sheryl to take over administration of a small orphanage, and Starfish Ministries was born.
The Starfish Ministries Orphanage
What began with few than 30 children quickly grew to exceed the orphanage capacity of 48. By mid-1999, Starfish began to make plans to move the orphanage to Tricotte, a village in the northern mountains of Haiti with a thriving church and a supportive Christian population. Learn more about the Starfish Ministries Orphanage and the orphanage history.
The Starfish Schools
Relatively few children in Haiti have the change to receive a good education. So in 2000, Starfish Ministries became involved in school ministry. Initially, Starfish supported four existing schools in four nearby villages, but the need was so great in other villages that Starfish began to establish schools there. These schools provide a solid education to the children, but more importantly, the children hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Learn more about Starfish Ministries Schools.
The Feeding Program
It wasn’t long before Starfish recognized that many of the children in their schools weren’t getting enough to eat. So Starfish began a feeding program in 2001. It is expensive to feed the thousands of children who are now is Starfish schools, but God continues to provide. Learn more about the Starfish Ministries Feeding Program.
Spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ is by far the most important ministry Starfish has been involved in. Starfish has sponsored evangelistic crusades in villages in northern Haiti where the many people had never heard the gospel. And God has provided a harvest. Starfish has been involved in planting churches in those villages. And Starfish has also sponsored pastor and lay-leader training so that the people in those churches can be spiritually fed and grow to maturity in Jesus Christ.
Starfish has been actively involved in relief work in Haiti. This has included disaster relief after the hurricanes of 2008 and after the earthquake of 2010. Starfish has been involved in rebuilding many homes, as well as providing emergency food and other supplies.
Many Haitians lack a supply of clean drinking water. In fact, many are forced to carry impure water distances of a mile or more, just to have something to drink and use in other ways. So Starfish purchased a well-drilling rig and shipped it to Haiti. Starfish has now drilled wells that provide many Haitian villages with a central supply of good water.
One of Starfish’s most recent projects is a medical clinic in the village of Tricotte. Haitian in Tricotte and the surrounding villages had to walk hours to the get to the closest medical care. Now health care will be much more accessible to them. Learn more about the Starfish Ministries Medical Clinic.