In God’s infinite wisdom He has appointed leaders in the church to further His purposes. In Acts 14, we read of the Apostle Paul’s terrible trial of persecution in Lystra. Paul was a former Pharisee – a Jewish religious leader – who had been converted after a marvelous encounter with the Lord Jesus (Acts 9:1-19). He then went on to be an Apostle and one of the greatest preachers of the early church. After having preached the Word in Lystra, some of his own countrymen “came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead” (Acts 14:19). Paul was willing to put his life on the line for Jesus. His desire was that God be exalted and that many would come to faith in the Lord Jesus and obtain reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.
Amazingly we read that Paul didn’t die and that he even went back into the city before leaving to preach in other places. But what else was Paul doing during these missionary journeys besides simply preaching the gospel message? Interestingly, this very chapter gives us insight into that question: “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:21-23).
Along with ecotourism, sugar cane is one of the most important industries in Belize. In recent years the sugar cane harvest has suffered from a 5 year drought. Praise God that this past year the rains have increased dramatically, providing needed moisture for the soil and giving hope to local farmers. Many of our church members in the Presbyterian Church in Belize are either sugar cane farmers or somehow connected to the industry. For example, there is a network of distribution, processing and sales both locally and abroad. Please be praying for the sugar cane farmers and that God will bless them abundantly.
What follows are two brief videos showing sugar cane fields during the day and night. Many burn their fields at night in order to make it easier and safer to harvest. This clears surrounding shrubbery and drives off harmful critters such as poisonous snakes.
Cornerstone Presbyterian High School (CPHS) in Belize is continuing quality education despite the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. Take a look at their most recent newsletter and please pray that they will continue to be a light for Jesus Christ in the community.
When Michele and I arrived in Belize we learned about the amazing work of God throughout the years here. As newcomers to this ministry, we have jumped into an ever flowing stream of gospel work for Christ’s glory where the past, present and anticipation of the future join together.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Tom and Helen Lacey were the first MTW missionaries to Belize and God used them tremendously for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Beginning in the early 1970’s, they were instrumental in helping start Presbyterian churches, Presbyterian schools and a Presbyterian medical clinic. As we visit these churches and the school where our children now study, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and of the hard work and dedication of the Laceys.
In James 2:14-26 we find the well known discussion of the relationship between faith and works. James gives us an example of how true and living faith ought to (and in fact does) result in good works:
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (Jam. 2:15-17).
It is interesting that the example he gives has to do with the needy, particularly those who struggle with obtaining sufficient food and clothing. One of the horrible consequences of the COVID-19 crisis has been that many around the world who were on the edge of being able to sustain their families with enough food have been pushed over the precipice into hunger and destitution. I have heard reports of people all over the world going without food. Families in Peru and Columbia have taken to placing a flag in front of their dwellings to signal the government and others that they have run out of provisions. Missionaries in Africa report the widespread sudden lack of resources. The stories could be multiplied on every continent.
MTW in Belize will be partnering with the Presbyterian Church in Belize to find ways to help people who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis – especially those in our churches here. Many have lost their jobs or have had reduced incomes. There are many families that struggle to put food on the table under normal circumstances and this has been a severe setback. People are already low on food and basic needs and things are likely to get worse as the disease spreads. There are also many sick and elderly. The churches haven’t been able to meet so tithes and offerings have come to a halt.
In times of difficulty and suffering Christians have the advantage of being able to go to God’s Word for comfort. The Bible is a treasure trove of truth, light, and blessed comfort for God’s people. Isn’t God incredibly gracious and loving to have provided such riches in His Word?
It is important to learn and meditate on the truths, warnings, promises and exhortations in God’s Word before challenging times arrive. To the degree that we have done that we will be better prepared to meet the “difficult providences” that God brings into our lives. As we remember and meditate on those things during difficulties and trials God will give us direction, wisdom, and comfort – especially by the power of the Holy Spirit working by and with the Word of God in our lives.
But whether remembering truths already contemplated or learning them for the first time, we will be better prepared to go through dark times. With that in mind I would like to list a couple of the many truths that we find in Scripture. In a future post I hope to list a couple more.
Teams are important. As the old expression goes: “No man is an island.” In many arenas of life, we find that working with others is not only a necessity but is part of who we are as social beings and is healthy not only for us as individuals, but also for the greater promotion of the work that we set out to do together. From organizing social events to working together in business to ruling and governing nations – teamwork is important.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him– a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc on the Bahamas, bringing death, destruction, and costly losses in its wake. There is a great need for continued prayer for those affected. May God grant comfort to those who have lost much and may they turn to Christ as the only hope we have in life and in death.
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.”
We give thanks to the Lord that MTW will be sending an assessment team there to determine how MTW’s Global Disaster Response can help in the days, months, and possibly years to come. The goal of this work of MTW is not only to aid in physical and emotional help for people who have recently gone through a disaster – an important and critical need – but also that God may open doors for the local churches to offer the hope of the Good News of Jesus Christ to all who will listen. God has a way of getting our attention after much suffering and maybe this is an opportunity for people to grapple with eternal life and death issues.
We will all appear before God someday to give account for what we did while here on earth (2 Cor. 5:10). None of us have fulfilled God’s perfect and holy law and so we have all sinned (Rom. 3:23). Thankfully Jesus fulfilled all the righteous requirements of God’s law on behalf of all who are united to Him by faith! Furthermore, He also took the just penalty due to them because of their sin and rebellion by dying an accursed death on the cross as a substitute – thus satisfying God’s justice.
Because God is just and cannot let the guilty go unpunished (Ex. 34:7; Ps. 1:5-6), He sent His Only Son Jesus to die the death of a sinner – even though Jesus didn’t deserve it (Jn. 3:16; Heb. 4:15). Jesus went willingly to the cross so that all who look to Him in faith may have eternal life and be reconciled to the Father (Col. 1:20-22; Jn. 10:17-18).
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”