Bit by bit, God is transforming “the forgotten Haiti”

By September 17, 2013

Haiti (MNN) — La Gonave is truly among the least of the least. It’s one of Haiti’s poorest regions, and Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. According to a 2010 CNN article, the people of La Gonave call their island “the forgotten Haiti.”

Dr. Steve Edmondson cares for an AIDS baby on the island of La Gonave. (Image courtesy Starfysh)

Dr. Steve Edmondson cares for an AIDS baby on the island of La Gonave. (Image courtesy Starfysh)

La Gonave is also where God is working, transforming and redeeming lives through Starfysh.

“The glorification of God in heaven is our end point, and whatever we can do, whether it’s proclaim or present the Gospel in acts of love and service, that’s what we want to do,” says Starfysh’s founder, Steve Edmondson.

Next week, over 200 people are expected to gather on the small island 45 minutes off the Haitian mainland. They’ll be dedicating a brand new solar-powered hospital, the collaborative fruit of Starfysh and Lemon Aid, a Scotland-based aid group.

“This really is the culmination and the celebration of a miracle, really,” says Edmonson. “We’ll come together to not only cut a ribbon, but to celebrate what God is doing.

“Among the people who will be attending and speaking at our ribbon-cutting will be Wess Stafford, the past President and CEO of Compassion International.”

The idea for a new hospital was born out of desperate need. Founded in 1958, the La Gonave Wesleyan Hospital is the only full-service medical facility on the island. It serves an estimated 120,000 people, communicating the love of Christ through caring for the sick.

“If anybody on that island wants hospital-level care, that’s where they go,” Edmondson explains. “The current hospital is at-capacity. In addition to that, there are people lying on stretchers up and down the hallways.”

Overcrowding isn’t the only problem.

“Frankly, the hospital in recent years has become ‘not suitable’ as a medical care facility,” says Edmondson. “[It has] crumbling walls, leaky ceilings, and open wiring. When the earthquake occurred in 2010, although the building didn’t come down, it caused a complete crack at the base of the hospital all the way around.

“In addition to becoming unsuitable, it became actually dangerous to inhabit. The time has come to do something about that.”

The new facility bears a stark contrast to the old. La Gonave Wesleyan Hospital’s capacity for care has grown from 35 beds to 44, with future plans for a 24-bed wing as funding becomes available. A building that used to hold one sink with running water and no flush toilets is becoming an earthquake-safe facility with running water throughout.

Edmondson says the upgrades are about more than brick and mortar.

“It’s what God can do and wants to do, and is doing, in fact, as a result of the Body of Christ coming together in obedience and in partnership,” he states.

Stewardship is another underlying theme.

“It costs upwards of $50,000 per year in diesel fuel…to power the hospital,” explains Edmondson. “Our feasibility studies very clearly and compellingly showed that our return on investment, of investing in solar power, will be about three years.”

“After three years, it’s free power. The sun is easily Haiti’s most natural and abundant resource, and we might as well use it.”

While the natural sun provides power for Starfysh’s medical ministry, the Son of God empowers and other areas of focus.

“The Gospel permeates it all,” says Edmondson. “There is no disconnect between the proclamation and the presentation of the Gospel through acts of service.”

He adds, “Hundreds, if not thousands, of people come to faith in Christ every year as a result of the healing ministries that go on at the hospital.”

But, Starfysh’s agricultural, educational, sanitation, nutritional and economic ministries are transforming islanders too.

“Our work in agriculture and in building schools, and installing water filters for clean water, really serves as a suitable infrastructure for proclaiming the Gospel,” Edmondson says.

You can be part of the process.

“We need help in all those areas,” says Edmondson. “[Pray] that people would come along and resource us with their skills and knowledge and energies, so that we can raise those tasks to the level they need to be to bring the island up.”

The new La Gonave Wesleyan Hospital is being dedicated next week. But, your prayers are needed right now.

“We have containers that are being stalled and held up in Haitian customs,” explains Edmondson. “One of the containers has all the beds for the hospital. Another container has some equipment and supplies that we’re waiting to fill the hospital with, the things we need to provide care.

“We are calling on our constituencies to pray very specifically that whatever powers that be would be softened by the power of God.”

Pray also for Edmondson and the direction of Starfysh.

“Starfysh started as what I thought was a small dream of mine three years ago,” he explains.

“People have caught on to that vision, and it has grown beyond what I ever intended it to be.

“[Please] pray for me, that I would be up to the task of allowing God to accomplish through Starfysh what He really wants to accomplish.”

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