We are so grateful to have partners like you that make ministry possible. Our guest blogger is Tyler from Cornerstone Baptist. Read below how God met him in Belize. Thank you Tyler for your transparency and being willing to be used by God in so many unexpected ways.
God met me in Belize.
Even in the preparations, the Lord laid out for me something special. I was unsure of how I would even get to Belize, thousands of miles from my home in Michigan. Logistics were a major challenge and I almost walked away from it all completely; however, our trip leader, pastor, and my good friend Scott admonished me to not give in so easily and that pressing on in faith would be a chance to bring to life the lessons we’ve worked so hard to teach our high school students at church on God’s faithfulness and our need to trust Him through the dark valleys of life. I knew Scott was right and took the plunge, even though I knew I would need a lot of prayer and a miracle to even get there. As such, the Lord delivered in a marvelous way through some special and generous people whose identity I still do not know.
Our experience serving with Thirst Missions in Progresso in the Corozal District of Belize was really a potpourri of experiences – jugando fútbol (playing soccer), haciendo arte (creating art), reuniónes en la iglesia (church services), visitando la gente (visiting the people), y pintando (and painting). I served primarily in painting the church building. I was the assistant team lead on this major service project and watched with amazement, along with our friends, as the building transformed from a neutral gray to a cheery, two-toned white and fuchsia building, ready for the windows, doors, and tile flooring. Along with the other projects, including several unplanned ones, we accomplished plenty. Lots of children and teenaged students came to spend time with us and heard the Gospel and plenty of adults came to the church services as well.
However, God met me elsewhere.
I was excited to see our work unfold. However, in our nightly combined team meetings, my friends would talk excitedly about their individual experiences getting to know the children better or having a moment to talk with one of them or even sharing the Gospel. I was enormously proud of what they had done, but at the same time, I wondered why I had not experienced the same. Worse, I wondered if I had done something wrong.
Was God meeting me here? What was I doing in Belize, anyway? I sat alone one evening, despondent and considered perhaps I was being selfish. I spent quite some time in prayer that night, continuing to plead with God to meet me anew and trust Him in His faithfulness and in His own time.
As it turns out, the answers were right in front of me.
One particularly humid evening (even by Belizean standards), I was sitting outside, trying to cool off and my head in the figurative clouds. I also was considering how our group had grown in Christ already and how our time remaining was so short, as well as what I had been praying for the past few days. In the middle of my solitude, one of the high school-aged boys from Templo La Hermosa’s congregation, Byron, joined me and asked if we could talk. Byron and I had bonded earlier in the week, so I was more than happy to have him join me. Alone time could wait, since the time in Progresso was growing short. We spent at least an hour and a half that evening together, talking until it was quite late, about both the ordinary and extraordinary things. Amidst our conversation, he and I talked about the testimonies shared in the church services earlier in the week and I discussed a short part of my own. Without any asking on my part, Byron was eager to share with me with a passion that only high school students can channel how his faith was tested on a hike deep in the rainforest and God’s provision through it all. These kinds of talks are always refreshing, whether with my friends, “my kids” in the youth group, or whomever, but to have one of my new friends in Belize desire to share his own story of how God ministered to him up close and personal and how his faith grew was powerful beyond words. It was like a breath of fresh air.
When I consider Templo La Hermosa in Progresso… how they met us, welcomed us, shared life with us, expressed their great thankfulness to God for His provision in their hour of need, and loved us with the love of Christ is what comes to mind immediately. Their life and faith in Christ permeates everything from their waking through their sleeping. Though strangers, our team from Michigan was viewed as part of their family, even though we looked much different and most of our team did not speak Spanish. Their children wanted to play games, tell jokes, and delighted in being taken to town for a bottle of Coca-Cola to enjoy, shake like crazy and fountain into the street. The adults likewise delighted in the joy of seeing their church transformed from a simple structure into an actual house of prayer, worshiping together with us, praying with us, and fellowship together, whether in the Word or (one of my personal favorites), time together over a Belizean meal, where we could just be together. The ministering couple here, Pastor Vitalino and his wife Ida, had a renewed infectious joy by the end of the week.
God did indeed meet me in this little nation.
I walked off an airplane and out of Philip S. W. Goldson Airport and was met by three people in t-shirts that said “Thirst Missions Staff.” They welcomed our anxious team warmly, had everything planned with precision, and had become my dear friends by the end of the week. I miss Angel, Luda, and Lorelly and hope to see them next time!
I arrived in Progresso a stranger and I encountered a loving, generous community church that makes their life in Christ their lifestyle. There is no separation between church and the rest of their lifestyle. It challenged me to do better back in Michigan. Pastor Vitalino, Ida, and their congregation also became my friends and I hope to return to them as well.
There are opportunities everywhere to serve alongside Thirst Missions in Belize, regardless of your skill set. Amid all those opportunities, my heart overflowed. Though we came to serve them, my friends in Belize lovingly encouraged me with their own faith in Christ.
Caye Caulker taught me to take and dive deep in, literally speaking, the beauty of His majesty. The incredible breadth of the Lord’ creative splendor, from the Belize Barrier Reef and its hidden wonders, the Caribbean Sea rhythmically washing over the beach next to our hotel, to the moonlight illuminating the sea at night reminded me of His greatness and majesty. It was a perfect place to unwind and reflect on what our God had done through us and for us in one week.
Yes, God met me in Belize. And this place stole my heart. I cannot wait to come “home.”