SarahBarry University Bible Fellowship
At the invitation of Missionaries Sarah and Moses Chang, Anna Yang and I visited the UBF chapter in Belize. Our purpose was to learn about God’s work in this small Central America/Caribbean country, and through Bible study to encourage God’s servants and the students whom they serve. We wanted to learn about this beautiful country and find their prayer topics. M. Moses and Sarah Chang’ small house church ministry is truly inspiring. I have known Moses and Sarah for many years. God has done a great work in their lives. God is working in Belize.
When we arrived in Belize City, Moses and Sarah met us at the airport. M. Moses read a part of Isaiah 52 about the beautiful feet of those who bring good news. Our feet were not so beautiful, but we could study together the life giving word of God in Genesis 1,2,3 and John 21. During our stay we ate delicious fruit, visited a Maya Indian archeological site, a wonderful little zoo, the museum and the island of St. Pedro, where we went snorkeling. We could see many beautiful fish, the coral reef, a turtle and some sharks.
Let me first share with you a little about Belize. Belize is the site of several Mayan City States. We visited one of the ancient sites of the Maya Indian civilization. There are many different roots and branches of Maya Indians. The Mayan civilizations declined at the end of the first millennium A.D. We visited an area inhabited by Xunantunich Mayas. They lasted from around 1000 B.C. to 400 B.C. No one knows where they came for or why they disappeared. Their name is translated, “Maiden of the Rock” There is a legend about a ghostly woman who slips into the rocks of the El Castillo temple and disappears. Not much is known about these people or their religion. Maya Indians are scattered throughout Central America.
The first Europeans to settle in Belize were Pirates. In the 1650’s the Pirates of the Caribbean made this Caribbean jungle country their home. When they ran from the Spaniards, they hid in the deep jungles. They found very valuable hard wood, especially mahogany. They imported slaves from Africa and cut wood and sold it in England. Early on, this country was called British Honduras. It became a Crown Colony of Great Britain. The settlers called themselves “Baymen.” The Spanish, using Mexico as a base tried to conquer them many times, part of an ongoing war between Spain and England. September 10, 1798 the great decisive battle called the battle of St. George’s Caye (Caye is pronounced “Key”) was fought against Spanish invaders from Mexico. The Baymen and their slaves fought for their homes and won. Currently there is still a border dispute with Guatemala. Based on an old Spanish treaty, Guatemala claims that Belize is a part of Guatemala. The case will go to the international court in the Hague in October, 2013.
In 1961 hurricane Hattie struck and leveled Belize City. So the capital was moved to Belmopan. Belize City was rebuilt and it is still the largest city.
In spite of a rather murky background—pirates, slaves, wars, drugs, AIDs, etc.—Belize has a Christian atmosphere. The light shines in the darkness. There is prayer and Bible reading in the schools; there is a healthy concern for the environment and justice for all people. We visited the zoo and found that the Belizeans love animals and take care of them. Mahatma Gandhi said that a country’s character is revealed in how they treat their animals. Belizeans get an A+. One man, George Cadel Price, a strong Catholic Christian had vision to make his country a Christian country. He was born and educated in Belize. He graduated from St John’s College in Belize. He wanted to be a priest and he went to a Catholic seminary in Mississippi. This deepened his concern for social justice. Because of the war he changed his direction and returned to Belize. He entered politics and worked persistently for Belizean independence from Britain. Independence was gained in 1981. He was elected the first prime minister of Belize. He is called “the Father of the Nation.” I realize again that one man makes a great difference.
Moses Chang came to Belize in 2008 in answer to Jesus’ call to pioneer the 33 countries of Latin America. He took the lead in his family and after a year, M. Sarah followed him. God’s work in their lives amazed me. Jesus who changes water into wine changed and blessed them. They love each other and both look very happy. Moses has the leadership in their family. I have known Moses and Sarah for many years. The early years of their marriage were not so happy. They are very different from each other. But God has done a great work in their lives. Sarah respects Moses and Moses dearly loves Sarah. Their life together with Jesus and the young Belizeans is like a honeymoon. They are an example of the difference it makes when the Biblical principal of love and respect are followed in one home.
It was not easy to decide to visit Belize in the summertime, but Sarah and Moses Chang invited us and we could not refuse. I respect their decision to go as silver missionaries. When I saw their love for Jesus and each other, their obedience to Jesus’ command: “Feed my sheep”, I realized that it was a blessing and a privilege for me to visit them in Belize. We also enjoyed sightseeing, swimming, snorkeling and Belizean food. We are coming home with very healthy sunburns and hearts full of thanksgiving
The small house church ministry in Belize reminds me of the early days of UBF in Korea—fishing, one to one Bible study, testimony writing, eating together, common life; and we experienced firsthand that Sarah is a very good trainer because she is full of God’s love. God provided a very good house (rented) which is well suited to be a Bible house as well as a missionary residence. They focus on one to one Bible study and feeding sheep. Their home is open and students are coming and eating and studying and going all the time. Sarah is always cooking or teaching the Bible. She is a creative cook! Sarah made a decision to cook for the growing disciples because Jesus also fed the people—with food as well as with God’s word. So their home is always open and there is always something to feed the students. Sometimes they have as many as 14 to 16 one to one Bible studies in a week. These days they are praying for Dillon, Charles, Lindy, Michelle, Darren, Maggie to accept God’s word deeply in their hearts and grow as committed disciples of Jesus. Maggie goes to another church, but she came this Sunday. We also met the manager of the building which they rent as a residence and Bible house. He is Taiwanese, as is the building’s owner. There is a large contingent of Taiwanese people here. There are also many churches of various denominations. Charles teaches grade 5 in All Saints Anglican Primary School. He is also pursuing an Associate’s degree in St. John’s College Junior College —the school from which George Price graduated. Charles always comes to the Bible house with 2 or 3 sheep. Sarah cooks for them and teaches them the Bible. Charles is also helping a boy who has a learning disability. I was moved by his shepherd heart. Moses and Sarah both take some courses in the Assembly of God seminary. They have a good relationship with the larger Christian community.
In Belize, as in many South/Central American countries, there is a general problem of commitment. Many people are active in two churches, not making a commitment anywhere. At the same time, there are truth seekers who are very thirsty for Bible study. A deeper problem is the lack of commitment in marriage. They don’t know the word divorce because many people just live together with a common law spouses. Among those who study regularly with Moses and Sarah, only Dillon’s family is a stable family. The other students are all from broken homes. Sarah studies with Erica (upstairs). She never married legally; but has lived with her common law husband for 16 years. They have 3 children together and each of them has children by another man/woman. Erica studies Bible with Sarah. We pray for the establishment godly, faithful families built on the rock of Jesus. We are praying that God may raise up mothers of faith and committed disciples. Michelle plays the piano well. We pray that she may make a commitment to Sunday Worship service. We are praying for the colleges here in Belize City and for the main campus of the U of Belize in Belmopan. We pray for the University of West Indies. We pray that Belize may be a missionary sending country. Belize is one of the CARICOM nations. These are the Caribbean nations which have come together (like NATO) seeking to help and encourage each other. Belize UBF is praying to pioneer these 15 countries. We pray that Dillon, Charles, Michelle, and Lindy may come to the ISBC. Tuesday night we had a reflection (testimony) sharing meeting. Charles, Giovanni, Lindy, Emerson, Dillon, M. Sarah and Moses Chang shared. They are praying that God might raise faithful disciples, establish Christian families and use Belize UBF to pioneer a Bible studying ministry in the CARICOM nations.
By Sarah Barry
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