Richmond Baptist Church shares Bible study in Belize
on July 13, 2011
“Vacation Bible School” takes on new meaning when classes are held near Mayan temples and jaguar-filled jungles. But for eight Richmond Baptist Church members, that’s exactly what they got during the last week in June when they visited the small and impoverished Central American country of Belize.
Nestled on the Caribbean coast between Mexico and Honduras, Belize’s residents are better known for speaking English than Spanish. According to the U.S. State Department, Belize is only slightly larger than Massachusetts. Its 2010 population hovered around 313,000, with most people working in agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing and commerce. The people there only make around $8,000 a year according to the State Department’s 2009 statistic.
Youth pastor Jun E. Lee said after six months of research, fundraising, networking and planning, the Richmond church group travelled to Ontario Village, a small community with just one paved road and no nearby markets or shops. “When we saw them they looked poor—really poor,” said Lee. “Belizeans don’t have much stuff but they don’t act poor. They don’t beg and don’t want to receive things.”
The purpose of the church group’s trip was to share new strategies on how to study the Bible. What they experienced was more like a four-day summer camp—scorpions included, said Lee. They collaborated with The Disciples Ministries of Prayer Mountain—a Korean-lead non-profit organization focused on training young Christians in Belize—and used icebreakers and games to incorporate fun into Bible study.
“Richmond Baptist Church has been around for nearly 30 years, but we had never done a short-term mission trip,” said Lee. “We were prepared for around 100 participants, but when we got there, 130 kids showed up!”
Hercules High student Janice Shin, 16, who participated in the trip said the kids in Belize already knew a lot about the Bible, but their study approach was not as lighthearted as it is in the U.S. “They look in the Bible and study,” said Shin. “It’s not like over here where it’s laid back—easy for kids to remember. Over in Belize it’s pretty serious.”
Berkeley High student, Hajin Yi, 17, said she felt that it was obvious that God was listening to the group’s prayers during their travels. One of their first group prayers was just for children to show up, she said. “We prayed 80 kids would come and 130 showed up,” said Yi with a big smile.
Yi also said that their van broke down in the middle of nowhere, and they prayed for help. “It was really kind of scary because we thought we were going to be stuck there and not be able to get home,” said Yi. “After five minutes we bowed our head and started praying. As soon as we said the word ‘Amen’ the van started working and we got out of that little hole!”
Lee said they hope to go back to Ontario Village one day, but because the people in the village don’t have Internet access, staying in touch will be difficult. “We did exchange phone numbers but we doubt they’ll call because international calls are expensive,” he said.
In the meantime, Richmond Baptist Church is planning their second short-term mission trip. “Next summer we are hoping that we can send out two teams,” said Lee. “Details are not there, but it will be a needy country where we can make an impact over short time.”
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