BELIZE JOURNAL PT.2 on Belize Fest. On Day Two of the July 18-19 Guatemala CONACOME conference in Santa Elena, Peten, the five attending NEAB leaders were asked many eager questions by our new, affectionate friends. Can they come to our meetings in Belize? Can they come to our Belize Festival of Hope? Can we come to more of their bimonthly conferences? The day started with the busy conference host EMAP President Victor Garcia taking time out to meet with us. He said that their Fellowships had banded together not only for unity in the Holy Spirit, but also for mutual support in the face of legal issues. He asked if we could join CONACOME.
NEAB President Lance Lewis replied that we are developing connections with the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean and with the Latin America Evangelical Association. In that context we would like to develop a relationship with CONACOME. Lance said he’ll discuss this with our NEAB Executives. NEAB Secretary George Ferrar pointed out that we faced different legal issues in Belize. We were required to register and abide by a Memo Of Association which is part of our Constitution.
In that MOA, one of NEAB’s objects is “To develop and maintain relationships with governments and other organizations nationally and internationally for the best interests of its members.” We are developing relationships nationally in Belize with the Belize Council of Churches as well as heads of evangelical denominations. We can also develop a relationship internationally with CONACOME. While we cannot join CONACOME as a department of Guatemala, we can relate to them as a good neighbor and partner. In fact, we hope our friendship with CONACOME can be a model of right relationships that promotes goodwill and mutual understanding between our two distinct nations.
It’s important to keep that distinction. Because Belize is shown as belonging to Guatemala in many official Guatemala maps. Many Guatemalans grow up not knowing anything different. So we should not be surprised if some evangelicals treat us as fellow citizens. At one point during the first day of the conference, they asked NEAB President Lance to come forward. It turned that that Lance was sharing the stage with the presidents of the Fellowships in the departments of Guatemala. They put their arms around one another and were prayed for.
We should not be offended if, in a friendly and innocent way, some think that Belize is a department of Guatemala. Or if they ask us to join their Guatemalan organization. They don’t know any better. It’s an opportunity for us to say we are legally Belizeans, but we want to love our Guatemalan neighbors. And though we are from two different countries, we are united in Christ.
After the second and final day of the conference began with more rousing praise and worship, President Lance was called forward to address the audience. Lance preached on contending for the faith once for all delivered to all the saints. That faith was revived by Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses which launched the Reformation 500 years ago. Just as the Protestant Reformation spread quickly through many nations, so we need another Reformation in this region today.
After more preaching by Sang Don Kim, a Guatemalan of Korean descent, on fulfilling our creation in the image of God, the conference ended with an unplanned, unscripted event. They called for us five Belizeans to come onstage. They gave the microphone to Manuel Guardado, who said we were grieved about the recent border violence. He shared about our historical meeting at the border with Peten evangelicals at the border, and our prayers together for peace, harmony and right relationships between our nations.
Then all the CONACOME department leaders came onstage. They repented for Guatemala’s sins against Belize, led by CONACOME President Sergio Morales. They embraced us and prayed for us. We embraced and prayed for them. We blessed one another. As we did, President Lance also confessed the sins of Belize against Guatemala. It was a powerful encounter together with God. We opened our hearts to Him and to one another, and our hearts were cleansed. There was an overwhelming sense of faith, hope and love for Belize and Guatemala and our growing relationship.
So overwhelming that, when CONACOME members heard of our Belize Fest Of Hope evangelism campaign, dozens of them clamored to attend. Manuel Guardado was called back to the podium to share more about the Belize Fest of Hope. They asked him where to find hotel rooms, not only for the climactic revival meeting in Belize City on July 15, 2017, but for revival meetings in all the districts. They’re more excited about the Belize Fest than most of our own leaders!
CONACOME President Morales is serious about their involvement in the Belize Fest. He sees this as a mission to help ignite in Belize the explosive church growth that Guatemala has experienced. Guatemala is the most Christian nation in Central America, with 24% now identified as evangelicals. Lord, as you have done in Guatemala, make us fruitful and so we can multiply new disciples and new works in Belize. And partner with more nations for Your kingdom to come in power and glory!
DailyInsight. Church uniformity includes everyone who looks the same. Church unity includes everyone who loves the same Lord (See Jn. 17: 20-23).
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