We’re just about halfway through our 7th Belize STM and it’s been an eventful first half. This is my eighth trip to Belize since 2008 and this particular trip has reminded me of how far we’ve come in these years and given me great hope for where we’re going in our ministry in Belize.
On Sunday we visited the Lake-I Baptist Church, pastored by Pastor Ashley Rocke. In 2009 when I visited Belize alone to start planning our summer trip, I was introduced to Pastor Rocke. It was his love and vision for reaching the Chinese here in Belize for Christ that really captured my own heart and mind and started me thinking about what could be possible if a Chinese church invested for the long-term in Belize. Back then, 10% of the population in Belize was Chinese, with 4,000 Taiwanese expats and far more mainland Chinese, Cantonese speakers. Yet there was no church for the Cantonese speakers and no way for them to hear the gospel in their own heart language. And here was this Belizean pastor, his church surrounded by Chinese shops, who loved these Chinese and wanted so dearly for them to be reached for Christ. I’m thankful for those hours I spent with him and was thankful to see him again on Sunday. We were all so blessed by that worship service and by the welcome we received there!
These days of VBS have given me confirmation of our vision for Belize. The opportunity to minister to local and Chinese Belizeans together every morning has given us a chance to see these children of such different cultural backgrounds singing songs of praise, to see them receiving hugs and affection as one people without care for color of skin, to see them laugh and play together. It’s a beautiful thing! And the new community center that LGCC built here at the church is a perfect venue for building up the Chinese population into a true community as well. So many of these Chinese shopkeepers are isolated and lonely. Giving them a nice place to spend time together and make friends will improve their lives in numerous ways. Building them into a Christ-loving community will transform their lives and the future of this entire city and country.
There are still many obstacles we face as we look to the future. There is still little trust between the local Belizeans and the Chinese ones. Too much violence has taken place in recent years for that reconciliation to happen easily. Many of the Taiwanese have left Belize to return to better prospects in Taiwan. And just as we built a community center, the casino in Belize just built an additional casino, entrapping more and more Chinese men into gambling addictions. God will have to break through for this country to move forward into the hopeful future that we would like to see. We lean on Jesus’ promise to Peter: “I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
Pray for the long-term future of the Belize Chinese Church, that God will provide direction and clarity to everyone involved in planning its future.