Mission in Belize
Mission in Belize
Trial Farm Pentecostal Church and FBC Starkville are separated by 2,200 miles, language, food, and denominations. What impact could our high school students serving there for a week each spring break have on either church? After two years of partnering with them for our high school international mission trip, the results are beginning to become evident to both churches.
In 2016 and 2017, our high school students served a wonderful church in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. While it was a good experience, it wasn’t quite the partnership that I felt would best benefit each of the two churches. I set out in search of a ministry partner where our teens could share the Gospel, invest in kids, and learn to serve in an environment that was very different from Starkville. With the help of our friends at Praying Pelicans Missions, we found just the right partner for our church in a small rural church in Trial Farm, Belize.
The village of Trial Farm is a small rural community located about an hour drive from Belize City. Trial Farm is just outside of the city of Orange Walk which has a few thousand people, so it provides stores and a few activities for us while we are in Belize. Pastor Felipe Novelo has served as the church’s pastor for about twenty-five years. He and his wife, Adelita, are humble servant leaders that God has used to shape their church and community. His son, Jose Carlos, teaches at a local high school and serves as the associate pastor at the church. Having spent the past two spring breaks with their church family, we feel like we are one big church family.
A benefit of not just doing mission trips but finding ministry partners that we serve with is being able to see our impact from year to year. Prior to our first visit, the church had a Sunday School ministry for children on Sunday mornings; but when the entire church met on Sunday evenings for worship they did not provide a ministry for younger children. During our visit, Pastor Felipe noticed how many children came to the church for our VBS type program. As a result, the church began a kid’s ministry on Sunday evenings during the church’s worship service. They are now regularly having 20-25 children attend while their parents are at the worship service.
Spending a week in Belize is giving our older teens and adult leaders far more than an early spring tan and a week’s worth of feasting on incredible Belizean food (it is a worthwhile trip just for the tortillas, salbutes, fry jacks and puposas). Our high school students are seeing first hand that while we have differences with our friends in Trial Farm, our shared love for Jesus makes us one. They are learning to share the gospel as well as learning to have an expectation to share the gospel in their normal life experiences. Through the food distribution we do for the community, they are learning how to care for the poor and to look past someone’s economic condition to see their heart. I believe they are learning the importance of stewarding their resources for the good of their neighbor.
Our teens are also learning to pray by both praying for the people and listening to their prayers. While our nation’s economy is a blessing, we have learned through listening to their prayers that their dependency on God for their daily bread and for physical health is something that we lack. I believe God is using our partnership to help cultivate a deeper prayer life in our church’s teens.
We are in the early stages of planning our 2020 visit back to Trial Farm. Our group will be there once again during spring break, March 6-13. Interest meetings will be held in September for parents and teens who are curious about joining our team. The cost is typically about $1,300, but through our fundraisers, donations and church budget the average per person cost has been about $500. For more information about this partnership or the upcoming trip please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.