Belize STM Day 10 – July 24, 2011
Today was the last day of LGCC’s Belize 2011 missions trip, and it definitely took a lot of God’s grace, power, mercy and love to bring our team safely to this day. God showed his grace to our team by shepherding us safely to Belize, despite the threat of missing both of our flights and the complications of bringing a lot of electrical equipment through customs when we arrived in Belize. God displayed his mighty power over the weather by holding the rain when we were working hard to set up the computer lab at the Youth Hostel, and He also showed us his mercy by sending rain at times to quell the scorching heat of the Belizean sun. Finally, God displayed his love to the Belizean youth, by giving us the ability to care for them through block parties at Pickstock and San Pedro, through VBS at the Chinese Church in Belize City, through our visitation at the children’s orphanage and through our Sunday Service and interactions with the youth at the Youth Hostel.
During our last day in Belize, the only ministry agenda item we had was to host Sunday school and a worship service at the Chinese Christian Church in Belize City before heading off to the airport to go home. The Chinese ministry team had the entire service planned already, so most of the team didn’t have much to do except to attend Sunday school and the following worship service.
I spent the majority of my morning hanging out with a 13-year old Belizean boy named Derek, who I had met earlier in the week during VBS. Marvin, who was our bus driver for the week, first introduced me to Derek at the end of Monday’s session and asked if Derek could participate in our program. I introduced myself to Derek, and told him to come by on Tuesday morning so he could join us during the second day of VBS. He showed up at the church bright and early the next morning and was assigned to my small group of 11, 12 and 13-year olds, so I got the opportunity to spend a little more time with him. Getting to know Derek wasn’t too hard, but he was rather quiet – he would respond to questions and make short comments, but he wasn’t very talkative in general. I looked for opportunities to share the Gospel with him, but he didn’t seem particularly interested in learning more about God. He like hanging around me though, so I made sure to pay attention to him and look out for him during the VBS session. As we were about to leave the Chinese Church for the Youth Hostel on Tuesday, Derek asked me to give him something before I left. I wanted to give him my bible, but he already had one at home… so I settled for giving him two packs of Hi-Chew candies. He seemed pretty pleased. As our bus drove away, he kept waving at me and at the rest of the team until the bus was no longer in his line of sight.
My interactions with him today were not too different from earlier in the week. I greeted him and shook his hand when I saw him, and he told me that he thoroughly enjoyed the candies I gave him on Tuesday. I walked with him upstairs to the sanctuary, and we sat down together in the last row of the center aisle. He doesn’t read very well, so he could only clap along during worship, and it was hard for him to pay attention during the scripture readings and during the message. He started to fall asleep during the sermon, so I made him a few crafts out of paper to keep him amused – one of which was a paper crane, and another was a paper heart with a Belizean penny at its center. He seemed to like the money, because he proceeded to tell me just how valuable American currency was in Belize. What surprised me the most was that when offering time was announced, Derek did not hesitate to put the penny in the money basket, while it took me a second or two to decide to put my $5BZ bill into the basket because I was starting to run out of cash for use during the trip. It really reminded me of the parable of the two coins that Jesus told in Luke 21, with Derek being the poor widow who put her two coins into the basket and was recognized by Jesus. As we were about to leave for the airport, Derek once again asked me to give him something, so I took off my ‘Smile because Jesus loves you’ bracelet, and put it around his wrist. I asked him if he knew who Jesus was, and he told me that he did. As the bus drove off, he was once again waving at me from the outside, until I couldn’t see him any longer.
My experience in Belize was pretty different from the experience of many of my fellow teammates, and different from what was shared in most of these blog posts. I have no powerful stories to tell, nor descriptions of God-led, heart-felt personal conversations with Belizean youth. Instead, I have half-stories – stories that have a rising action, but no climax and no resolution – not unlike the experiences with Derek that I shared. I spoke to many kids over the 10 days, but most of them were either unresponsive, couldn’t speak English very well, or just walked away when they got bored of the conversation. I didn’t find many opportunities to pray with any of the kids I interacted with, or ask if they wanted to accept Jesus Christ into their hearts. Instead, I spent my time explaining the gospel to kids who would listen, and trying to live out the gospel with my actions for the kids who didn’t care to listen. I didn’t get to pray with the kids, but I realized that I could pray for them on my own. Through my time in Belize, God reminded me that He is the one that is doing the work, that He is writing amazing stories for each and every one of the children I talked to, and that His timing is perfect (and mine is not). I didn’t have any amazing and awesome personal moments or intimate moments with team members, but I realized that short-term missions are about doing God’s work, and not about my own feelings of fulfillment. My time in Belize feels largely unresolved and incomplete, and I’m fairly convinced that it’s because the story of Matt Chang in Belize is unfinished, and in fact, has only just begun. I’m committed to going to Belize next year, and I’m praying that if it is God’s will, He would give me a bigger glimpse of the stories He’s writing for some of the youth I had the pleasure of interacting with this year, as well as the story He’s writing for the country of Belize in general.
If any of you have a heart for Belize, for youth, for short term missions, or even just for experiencing some of God’s magnificent story-writing, I encourage you to considering joining me and being part of LGCC’s Belize STM team for 2012. Sure, Belize is hot, humid and mosquito-ridden (which is very visible from the red, swollen patches of skin that each of the Belize STM 2011 team members have), but it’s a beautiful place and more importantly, it’s a place that God loves. I can assure you that if you decide to go, you will see a glimpse of God’s magnificence and His glory, and that you will be able to play an integral part in telling God’s love story to Belize.
- Matt Chang
- Salvation from the many mosquito bites/heat rashes the Belize STM 2011 team has received during our 10 day stay in Belize!!
- That David Craver’s planned internet ministry with the Youth Hostel kids would be able to come into fruition because of the efforts LGCC’s team has put into the computer lab. Please pray that the youth would be exposed to the gospel because of their access to the internet, and that the faith of the kids who have already accepted Christ would be sustained and renewed through David Craver’s continued ministry with the hostel.
- That the Chinese Christian Church of Belize would be able to follow up with the kids we interacted with through our VBS program, and that the church’s own weeklong VBS program in August would be fruitful and would be a great instrument for displaying God’s love for the children of Belize City.