Story, photography and videography by LCMS Missionary Johanna Heidorn, who serves the Latin America and Caribbean region based in the Dominican Republic.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches”Matthew 13:31-32
Orange Walk | District of Orange Walk
For several years, church services in Orange Walk were held in the home of Roldan Rojas. Now, what was once an abandoned woodshed has become our newest church for a growing congregation in the north of Belize. Situated on a 1.5-acre lot, the church has room for expansion, and soon, there are hopes of adding running water, plumbing, and a bathroom to the church property.
Palm Sunday and dedication service for the new church building in Orange Walk, Belize
Valley of Peace | District of Cayo
Valley of Peace is a small village tucked between sugar plantations and small farms. Along a long dirt road resides a community created for refugees, including El Salvadorans fleeing gangs, violence, and the conflicts of the Civil War. Alliance missionary Pastor Benjamin is in conversation with one such family about baptizing their 3-year-old daughter. This family now lives in and are the caretakers of the church property in Valley of Peace. Learning what baptism means and going through instruction and the catechism, the family attends almost all activities at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Buen Pastor). They attend services in both English and Spanish, using the English service as a way to learn the official language of Belize.
On the same campus as the church, Little Lambs Lutheran Preschool opened its doors for the 2022 school year in September, welcoming 15 children from ages three to five. Their Belizean teacher Elba prepares these Spanish and Mayan-speaking children for entry to English-speaking schools.
Missionary Sue Kessler teaching at Little Lambs Lutheran school (left), Pastor Flores visits with children from Bible class playing near the church (right)
Pastors Benjamin and Micah conduct chapel twice weekly to help the children grow in the Word of the Lord. Missionaries there also teach ELS classes to the community children, whose parents are also welcome to attend. Kids from the Valley of Peace neighborhood come several times a week for English and Spanish Bible classes, a sports club, and other activities.
Missionary Markie Burch providing English instruction to children in Valley of Peace (top left), Children making crosses made of palm leaves during English Bible class (top right), Saturday kids Bible study in Valley of Peace with Pastor Flores and Wildauer (bottom)
Down the road, Pastor Benjamin has been in communication with Jazmin, the mother of Christian, a three-year-old boy with disabilities that make it difficult for him to feed or dress himself or lift his own weight. Pastor Benjamin told her, “Sometimes it is really hard to stand firm with God. The situation in your life is hard. It is a 24/7 job. Things don’t always happen right away. If we do not have faith in Him, then we cannot be secure in anything. God knows you are suffering. He knows our heart and head, and He knows what our needs are.”
After praying and inviting her and her family to church, Pastor Benjamin explained that if they did not come, it didn’t mean the church was going to abandon them. “That is not how it works with us. It is not an obligation. We want to walk with you. To have God is to have His words. The Word of God is our strength, and through our suffering, the invitation is always open. We want our doors open because the church is a blessing. It is easy to live as the world does, but as the church, we are here for you, our neighbor.”
Every year, hundreds of organizations come to Belize for medical trips and eyeglass clinics, bringing donations and resources to the country. Though these organizations give the people of Belize oftentimes necessary handouts, it can be easy to start thinking that money and material things can fix our brokenness, but in reality, the only thing any of us needs is Christ. The missionaries in Belize are bringing the people just that–Christ’s love.
Situated on the border of Guatemala and Belize sits a humble house on the Río Mopán River. The elderly man living there has mobility problems and needs a better way to get around. When missionaries went to visit him and his family in their community, they were welcomed with open arms. Giving up their meal for the day to feed the visiting missionaries, the family stood around smiling and chatting while they watched the food being enjoyed. Often, the people with the least are the ones who show the most generosity and kindness. While there, the missionaries gifted the man a wheelchair, which the Lord had provided. Much greater than the wheelchair itself was the Word that was spoken by those who delivered it. It was the greatest of gifts.
The Village of Seine Bight | District of Stann Creek
A quarter mile at its widest point, the Placencia Peninsula is home to some of the wealthiest properties in Belize. Driving down the coast of the peninsula, with the sea on one side and the lagoon on the other, it’s hard to miss the small underdeveloped Garifuna village of Seine Bight. In July, missionary Pastor Herb baptized seven children and adults from Christ Lutheran Church in Seine Bight. Alongside the church, the region’s newest Mercy Center dedicated in November.
Dedication service for the new Mercy House adjacent to Christ Lutheran Church in Seine Bight
The missionary team in Belize works in six districts across the country, including the borders of Guatemala and Mexico, using both Spanish and English to spread the Word of God. Helping to broaden the reach, the team welcomes a new missionary family to their field this month and patiently anticipates another pair by the end of the year, bringing the total number of missionary families to five.
God is good
The road is long and dusty, days are hot, and the work is often overwhelming, but God uses every moment to accomplish His purpose. We give thanks for the tireless work of pastors, missionaries, and teachers who are sharing the Gospel, planting Lutheran churches, and showing mercy to the people of Belize. We rejoice that one by one, people are hearing the Gospel being proclaimed in their native tongue. We ask for your continued prayers for all God’s people and for those who have not yet come to know His love.