The mission to Belize was another of our opportunities to introduce a group of Bible college students to life on the mission field. Well, “introduce” may not be the best choice of words since one couple were actually seasoned missionaries who were are taking time from their work in Africa to go through formal Bible college training. The team consisted of nine students from very diverse backgrounds (England, Brazil, and Uganda in addition a number of states) plus both Peggy and Delron. Our hosts in Brazil were Craig and Tina Rumbley who were in the freshman class at Charis Bible College when we first started teaching there. In addition to directing the Charis Bible College extension campus in Belize City, the Rumbleys are very active in a wide variety of outreaches in the country. Craig serves on the board of Prison Fellowship, is involved in broadcast ministry, assists a number of pastors who are pioneering new churches, and tirelessly evangelizes in hospitals, among the homeless, and in door-to-door campaigns in the city. During our week in Belize, the Rumbleys made sure that our students had opportunity to experience each of these areas of ministry as well as to spend some quality time interacting with the students at the local campus.
We began our week by visiting two schools where we were able to play games with the children, give puppet shows, share testimonies, and present the gospel message. One fun activity that the children really enjoyed was an egg toss game that ended with one of our team members splattered with a raw egg. The school system in Belize is a unique combination of public and Christian education in that the government funds the schools which were built by the churches and missionaries, providing an open door for gospel presentations to all the students. Our team was able to pray with many of the students and give them literature about what it really means to be born again. We also learned that even the prison system is a novel cooperative between the government and church in which the inmates are actually given the option of going through secular twelve-step rehabilitation or a faith-based program. We had opportunity to minister in two different correctional institutions–a youth hostel where juvenile offenders are held and a regular prison. In both the youth hostel and prison, the inmates were very receptive of the testimonies and ministry of the team. One area that was of special interest in both institutions was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When our students shared how being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit had helped them overcome temptations and other difficulties, the inmates eagerly lined up for prayer to also receive this gift from God.
We spent one morning just walking through the city giving out free sandwiches and ministering to the homeless people in the alleys and the city park. Two particular encounters on that morning stand out. Gilbert was an elderly man who had spent much of his adult life in the United States but had come back to his native Belize in his retirement years and through a series of events had wound up alone and lonely. When we met him sitting on a tree stump in the park, we asked now he was doing. His response was, “Well, I’m not doing as well as you are.” He then mentioned that he was trying to stop smoking but just couldn’t kick the habit. When one of the students asked if he was born again, he responded that he was and told us what church he was part of. Knowing that it was a Bible-believing, evangelical church, we knew that he really understood what we were talking about. When Jeanne asked him if he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, he responded that he had not. She explained some of the scriptures about the Holy Spirit baptism and then asked him to join her in singing a worship song. As she sang, she soon shifted into worshipping in the spirit in unknown tongues. Immediately, Gilbert was also speaking in a heavenly language! When we walked away to find others in need, we knew that this one man was now free from the power that had held him and now had a new source of victory. The other encounter of the day was with two homeless men who shared not only the same park bench but also the same man. Both of them were Raymond. In addition, they also shared two other things—they were both alcoholics who wanted to be free from the habit, and they both readily received prayers for salvation and deliverance.
One other outreach that we had opportunity to participate in was hospital visitation. As we visited the various wards, we had many opportunities to minister to both the patients and their families and friends who were there visiting with them. We not only shared the message of salvation and healing but also the message of deliverance from fear and worry that so often attack those who are suffering and facing surgery and even death. As we prayed, we saw new hope and peace manifest on all their faces. Some of the patients also showed visible signs of the healing touch in their bodies. One gentleman, for example, was unconscious–almost comatose–as we began ministering to him and his family. However, as we moved to the next bed to minister to another patient, we heard some excitement around his bed and looked back to see the patient talking and laughing with his family. One unexpected experience in the hospital was the encounter we had with Veronica, a nurse in one of the wards. As a foreign nurse from Nigeria, she had been praying to be able to get to know some strong believers in her new country. When she saw the Bible college logo on some of the students’ T-shirts, she approached them and asked them about the school. They, of course, readily invited her to visit the campus for the special night when Delron would be teaching at the school. Since she had that particular night off, she accepted the invitation and also brought a friend with her. Both ladies were so excited about what they learned that night that they actually began looking into the possibility of enrolling into the school!
One other outreach was door-to-door visitation in one of the neighborhoods in the city that is particularly under the oppression of gangs and drug lords. As we visited home after home, the one request that was repeated in almost every home was for safety and protection as the people told about how many times their homes had been broken into and how they hear gunfire around them on a regular basis. Everyone was eager to receive prayer, and the young children were especially thrilled to pray to ask Jesus into their lives. When we asked some of the youngsters if they knew the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the arc, or David and Goliath, they all responded that they had never heard these stories. We shared this sad truth with the students at the local Bible school and challenged them to go back into the neighborhood to begin a children’s Bible club to recruit these little hearts before the gangs and drug dealers take them.
We began Sunday morning with an hour-and-a-half broadcast on the local radio station, sharing testimonies and teachings. The day continued with three church services in which we shared testimonies, messages, songs, skits, and prayers. The ministry was eagerly received in each service, with essentially every person present responded to the altar call for prayer. In a addition to those who came forward to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit and healing, several also received God’s free gift of salvation. One particularly impactful story was that of one young man who had just been released from prison. He had been invited to the church that held first morning service. Since there is on public transportation on Sundays, he and his family had to walk to church and wound up arriving just as the service was ending. Since there was to be another church using the same facility for their service just a matter of half an hour later, they decided to stay for that service. As soon as the altar call was given, the young man and his wife came forward to receive the Lord as savior and were also filled with the Holy Spirit. About that time, their three children were released from the children’s church and came up to join their parents at the altar. The children also received the Lord, and the whole family went home that day as new creatures in Christ. We also saw another miracle in the children’s Sunday school class when one young boy fell in the floor with something similar to an epileptic seizure. The students responded immediately in their authority in Christ, and the boy was healed and smiling happily within just a matter of a couple minutes.
While in Belize, Delron taught in the local Bible college for three days. Although the school uses DVDs from the campus in Colorado Springs and the students are familiar with all the faculty through their video teachings, they were excited to be able to get to have Delron with them as a live teacher to share the Finally, My Brethren course and the So, You Wanna Be A Preacher class.
During our spring break for the Bible college, Peggy and I traveled to Belize to teach the Finally, My Brethren course at the Charis Bible Institute that is under the direction of some of our former students at the Bible college here in Colorado. Teach All Nations was able to offer all the students free copies of the textbook and to provide our devotional Bible study materials to the school staff. It was such a thrill to watch the expressions on the faces of the students as they began to understand the revelations of the course. The final night of the class, we spent some special time praying for the students and staff of the college. In addition to the prophetic words that came forth for several of the students and the prayers for healing that a couple of the students needed, one student decided that he was not actually born again and asked that we lead him in a prayer for salvation. As we shared with the mission team who are directing the school, I was constantly reminded of Proverbs 25:25 which says that good news from a far country is as refreshing as cold waters is to a thirsty soul. In addition to all that we were able to share with the school, we believe that our being there will have a much longer term effect in the encouragement that we were able to bring to the team leading the school.