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Daily Narrative from the Mission Group

Date and Time Posted: Saturday July 18, 2015 - 12:38:23 am

Tuesday, July 14, 20015 The sun arose in Crooked Tree, Belize, to partly cloudy skies, and an excitement that today the real work was to begin. Many of the men arose to get in the vehicle early, leaving the Lodge at 0540 for the drive to the Baptist Church to begin the construction activities. The group separated into two groups – one group (Chuck Trese, Hunter McDavid, and Logan Shaffer) to work on the stairs of one of the members of the church (an elderly lady whose home was across the street from the church), and the other to work on the church roof (Larry Browder, Billy Frazier, David Stokes. Philip Younce, Jeremy Ketron, and Jerry McMurray). As we arrived at the church, we were pleased to see that one of the members was busy working on the roofing, pulling nails with a crowbar. Due to the limited time that the team had, we succeeded in getting a good start on the roof by replacing 6 panels of tin, removing the facia board on that side of the church, and beginning fabrication of the steps for the home After a quick breakfast, we then boarded the vehicles for the short ride to Crooked Tree Baptist church. The theme for this weeks’ Vacation Bible Study is “Journey Off the Map.” Indeed, we are all on a journey of life, and it is the wise and prudent that follows God’s direction for our lives. “And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statues and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.” (1 Kings 3:14). As we go daily in this walk of life, we don’t know what is around the bend – the unchartered territory where we will encounter wonders, scenery, new things, and also evil, sorrow, and turmoil. In the modern world, most of us have a GPS built into our cell phones that can act as a guide if we get lost. The same is true in our spiritual walk; we need to have a Guide to help us through our lives, to chart the correct course in our travels, and to help us to survive our trips. The guidebook and compass is the Word of God; our Guide is the Saviour, Jesus Christ, to helps us to choose the right directions. The lessons center on showing why Jesus is the Guide – because He can be trusted. In Jesus life, we can see the fulfilment of his prophecies, as well as fulfilment of many Old Testament prophecies. Thus, we can trust His words for His life fulfilled the promises made about Him. Daniel and his friends are used as good examples of obedience in life’s difficult situations, and the first lessons from the book of Daniel are about how Nebuchadnezzar took the fairest of the Jews to be brought into Babylon. Daniel was about 15 years old when this happened; in the court of the king, he was selected from the Jewish royal family to serve as one of the king’s administrators, and received training in their science, religion, and language. Daniel could have violated the Jewish law concerning dietary restrictions, but he and his friends stood fast on God’s word. Integrity is essential to living a Christian life and we must be the same to all men at all times, following the Word of God. The Bible School began at 0930 when Larry started the service. Jeremy, Holy, Marie, and Ella began with the dance and singing of the VBS theme song – “Journey Off the Map.” Brother Billie Frazier opened the VBS by reading Scripture and prayer, and then the students were off to their respective classes. The first day’s attendance was 138 people, and these were divided into 5 different classes. Two of the classes were held outside under the large trees in the yard of the church; however, before the class time could end, ran interrupted the classes, and they had to be moved indoors. This noise from the rain and the two simultaneous classes was intolerable, and a decision was soon made to cut the VBS short for the first day. God had a way of showing us that our plans are not always perfect, but if we relied on Him, His mercy would grant us better days for the balance of the VBS. Jeremy testified later that there were a couple of young men that came forward to give their lives to Christ after his class. The Team returned to the Lodge to get some rest, as well as to prepare for the following days. The Team had stopped at a local store for bologna, bread, and cheese to prepare a quick snack for lunch. Some work had to be done on craft preparation, and this helped by some of the group chipping in to help Brother Tommy Holtzclaw get the materials ready. After some needed rest, the Team assembled at 0500 pm for a dinner of chicken stir fry, shrimp, peas and mushrooms, and coconut cake. At 0630, the Team again boarded the vehicles for the 5-minute drive to the church. The Team was pleased throughout the week by the enthusiasm, variety, and quality of the singers at the church, and from other churches, that sang throughout the week. The young girls from the church were enthusiastic, and volunteered each service without hesitation, as well as other youth of the church. Jeremy led the singing after the young girls had sung their rendition of “Jesus Take The Wheel.” Jeremy then sang “Who Am I?” Indeed, it reminded one of David’s statements made to Saul (I Samuel 18:18): “Who am I? and what is my life ,or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” David realized that he was in his position because of the blessings of God, just as we all are. Who are we that a King should bleed and die for? But He loved us as we were, and forgave us of our sins, to pay the sin debt that we owed!! Hallelujah! Pastor Haley brought his testimony of salvation as he had been saved at Crooked Tree Baptist 29 years ago, and although he is pastor of another local church, he came to worship God in spirit and truth. If only more of our churches in the United States could take such an attitude, and come together to worship our King! Marie then sung “What A Day That Will Be,” before Brother Tommy Holtzclaw brought the message. He read verses from Genesis, Chapter 2 and 3, and referred to a comment that Larry had made earlier in the week that had prompted his message. Larry used the term being “Fit for Heaven” – and that was the text for the message. God is, in His Word from Genesis to Revelation, trying to get His people ready and fit for heaven. God had a planted, and it started over 6000 years ago. The Bible says the Serpent was a beautiful creature to look upon; he was enticing in appearance. God had given Adam and Eve good advice on how to live a good life: to not eat of the tree; they were to live forever until they ate the fruit from the tree of life. Adam did not stand as the head of his household in a proper manner; he yields to the words of Eve and the Serpent even though he knew God’s words. Thus, they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and angels were commanded to guard the entrance. The man and woman were cursed – woman with pain of childbirth, and man with the curse of work to get that which he needed to survive. The serpent was cursed to crawl on his belly, losing the beautiful appearance that he had. Tommy said that he liked to plant trees, and in the region of eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia, trees are planted in large numbers to replace the vegetation from strip mining as he wanted to restore the beauty of the forest and trees. Man has had knowledge of good and evil from early times, as God gave the Jews 10 commands, nine of which are repeated in the New Testament, to show how to live a good life. Satan led man astray, and they lost their innocence, gaining instead a conscience – not a good trade. God had protected the innocent, and still does, until the age that he/she manifests accountability and knowledge of his/her sin. What does it mean to be fit for heaven? Fit for heaven means that you are different; as a child, he liked to steal marbles from his friends. After Tommy became a Christian, he was different from that moment forward – he could not do what he had done before. There are several things that we need to do to be fit for heaven – it starts with a belief in God and His Word, that Jesus is God’s Son. Three things must be done: 1) pay the penalty of sin – this penalty is death; how good is it that we are not sufficient to pay that price, and God loves us enough to pay it for us; 2) we must choose Christ – we are free agents (Tommy told the story of Johnny the student, who finally sat down after being told to do so multiple times, and who replied that he was still “standing on the inside”); and 3) we must be obedient. Our standard for behaviour and conduct is the Lord Jesus Christ – he is our example. For God so Loved the World that He Gave His Only Son to pay the price of sin; we all have to choose how to deal with sin – try to pay ourselves, or worship and trust Jesus who has paid the debt. The answer is simple – choose Jesus! After the service, an invitation was given, and four women came forward to change their lives forever! Amen! The Team returned to the Lodge for the night, concluding with evening devotions by Verna Almen. Verna asked if we, in the last days, realize that we are in the last lap of the race! She quoted from Hebrews 12:1: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” We are a part of the relay race, and it is the last segment. We must not drop the baton; we must not slow down; we must not stop. Those before use are urging us onward; our Saviour is cheering for us to go onward. Focus, Focus, Focus On The Finish Line! She stated that she is pleased by the team’s age span – we have teens, middle-agers, and people in their 70s, all running the race set before us. Fix your eyes on Jesus and don’t turn astray…..just picture yourself in the relay race….our Savior is praying for us to win!!! Do not try God by putting limits on space or time, or by being limited by weather, or being limited by our weaknesses. Brother Larry said he was amazed at the service; it was like “old time services in the hills,” and we need to get back to old ways. The group thanked Marie for her singing, and Jeremy responded that the Team did their part, and God did His part – by saving the lost souls!!! We closed, and went to our rooms for a good night’s rest, ending with prayers for several in the community. Sing praises to the Lord for his wonderful, mighty work through his servants here in the Community of Crooked Tree Belize!

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

Date and Time Posted: Friday July 17, 2015 - 3:55:08 pm

Monday. July 13, 2015 The sun arose on Crooked Tree, Belize shortly after 5:00 a.m., and six of the Team managed to awake early enough for a scheduled bird-watching tour arranged with the lodge. For 85 minutes, our guide – Leonard (who worked for the Lodge where the team was staying), from 0600-0725, took us up and down the lagoon to observe a number of local birds – the Northern Jacana (aka the “Jesus Bird”), a variety vultures, eagles, kites, sparrows, and other species, of varying colors and sizes. It is wonderful just to enjoy the scenic wonders of nature in this Central American country, The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is internationally known for its being a nesting place for many migratory birds, and for a good feeding ground due to the fresh water lagoon that surrounds the island. Upon the return to the compound, the entire team enjoyed a good breakfast of fresh fruit, oatmeal, eggs, and sausage, before separating and going in different directions. Ella Frazier, Marie Jones, Ann Holtzclaw, and Holly McConnel went to the Crooked Tree Clinic with some medical supplies, and to hand out baby kits to local young women. Over 40 kits were handed out to the members of the community, and these were accompanied by guidance from Ella on how to use the kits, and to help keep their children healthier. Ella met with the doctor that visits the community; it just happened that the doctor was onsite the day of the team’s activities, another example of God’s blessings. With the crowd present at the clinic, and the limited supplies, Ella stated that it seemed we had just the right number of team members, and just the right number of kids, to handle the community needs that morning. As Philippians 4:19 states, “…my God shall supply all your need according His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Returning to the compound, she expressed the need to pray for Brother Norman’s grand-daughter, and her infertility problem, as it was a major concern. A select group of the men went to the Orange Walk to order materials for construction activities for the week. It was decided to replace ½ of the tin on the roof, make minor repairs to the church steeple, replace the steeple flashing, replace damaged boards on the eaves of the roof, and to construct steps on one of the church’s member’s home. The materials were ordered using the funds that had been set aside for this purpose ($1200.00), and the materials were to be delivered. When reviewing the cost of these materials, the sum total of what was purchased was as God intended: $1199.89! It was amazing that the cost was so precisely close to the supplied monies for this use, but is just another example showing how God has supplied just what we need to do the work He has set aside for the group. Others spent the morning preparing and posting block entries, while others went to conduct visitation with members of the community. In all aspects, God’s blessings were with the members as the worked diligently. After lunch, the team then packed into the vans to go to the church, and to distribute beans and rice. As we began, a steady rain began to fall on the area, but in answer to prayers for good weather as we visited the homes, we saw the rain stop just after the team started to go out into the sites. There are many stories, and blessings from our visits. One group went to the home of Mr. Wade, an elderly gentleman who was mostly confined to his home due to illness, and whose wife was not at home anymore as she was in Belize City due to a recent stroke. This man was mostly bed-ridden, but was a Christian, and appreciated our visit as he had no rice in his house. We then visited another family, whose matriarch was a former Sunday School teacher at the Belize Baptist Church for 38 years. Emma was 92 years of age, and had been near her deathbed earlier this year. Her daughters were nearby as they thought her life was ending, but she related that she had a “vision” in which a “man in white” showed her a plaque for her teaching so many years, and told her that her life was not over. She stated that her health has been restored, and that she is strong enough to go out and “rake her lawn” on a daily basis! Though there were no conversions on this visitation, it was joyful and a blessing for all those doing God’s service. Supper on this day consisted of ginger soup, stew beef, baked fish, mashed potatoes, French salad, southern styled veggie, and lemon pie for dessert. A local native provided a history lesson about Crooked Tree. Crooked Tree came about as early as the late 1500s due to interest in the trees that were used for extracting dyes for clothing, especially red and purple primaries, and people came to the region by using canoes and kayaks (dowries). Many had to paddle many days to get to the island, but were threatened by the leopards, jaguars, and mountain lions that were in the region. Over time, larger boats were used, eventually with tows to transport the wood. As things changed, logs were later sent downriver by floating the logs, but this lead to large pileups, particularly in certain areas. These pileups, called booms, were cleared by men who climbed on the logs to move them manually (towns were named after this issue, such as Burrell Boom on the Belize River). When people first arrived at crooked tree, there was several old “bullet wood” trees. The largest of these was destroyed by the 1931 hurricane, which nearly wiped out the settlement completely. The island is 7 miles long by 2.5 miles wide, with a population that is now over 1000 people. There is an elected council to govern the village, with Donald Phillips the current chairman. A Mr. Sane planted the first mango tree in the village many years ago; this mango tree is still alive. The island is divided into area: Sane, Courtney, Red Nut Hill, Old City (aka Tillet Town), and Oklahoma. The island has restaurants in the hotels, as well as three other separate restaurants; and six churches. The causeway to the island was constructed as a result of the action of Mr. Fred Hunter, a minister in the government in 1980s when the Northern Highway was under construction. It appears that Mr. Hunter was in love with a young lady from Crooked Tree, and when the materials were being sent to help build the Northern Highway, Mr. Hunter included extra loads to build the causeway, which was completed in 1982. Prior to that, the people had to travel entirely by boat to get to Belize City, with the journey taking nearly 24 hours; how it can be done in a little over 30 minutes! . The Team then prepared, and packed in to the van for the trip to the Baptist Church in Tillet Town. Various singers opened the service, with Holy Spirit being present from the start of the service. Brother Billy Frazier brought the message on Monday, with the theme that “there is only one way to get to heaven.’ Billy stated that there are two ways to meet God – one way is to meet God by death, and the second way is by the Rapture! Rapture. The Scripture reference was 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, as well as 1 Corinthians 15. The Bible says that God has provided us knowledge about those that are asleep in the Lord, and for us to not have despair, for God knows where their bodies are, and that they will be resurrected, with their bodies being changed from corrupt bodies to incorruptible, perfect bodies, ones not having pain, death, or sorrow, and which will live for an eternity. In 1 Corinthians 15, it states that the trump of God will sound. Trumpets were used for several purposes: to call a group to assembly, call to arms, or celebration; for the last trump, it is a call to assembly for Christians, a fulfillment of a promise made by God, and the signal for us to move-out to glory. We do not know the time of the call; but we know who will be called – all saved for all times will be called to leave this world. When the trumpet sounds, it is too late for the sinner – they will be left behind. For Christians, we shall be joyful in heaven for there will be glorious reunions in heaven. Revelation 22 promises the return of Christ, as well as in John 14:3 in which Christ said that he has gone to prepare a place for use, and that He would return for us. Reunions in this earth are infrequent, and we enjoy the fellowship when we are with our friends and loved ones – IMAGINE what it will be like in Heaven! God’s desire is to receive his holy, spotless church, without blemish. In order to accomplish this, all saved with be resurrected, and meet with the living Christians in the air. 2 Corinthians 5:8 says we will be in the presence of Christ; we know that all will stand in His presence, bow before Him, and acknowledge Him as Lord. Our promise will be completed when our bodies will be hanged from the “dust of the earth” to glorified bodies. When Jesus shouts, great miracles happen, for he shouted for Lazarus to come forth, and he arose; he shouted from the cross, and the veil in the temple was rent from top to bottom. How quickly is the Rapture to occur? The blink for 1/32 of a second; the Rapture is an appointed place in time. If you have ever red the “Left Behind books,” it is a fictional account of what the Rapture may be like. There will be chaos; the whole idea of God’s return is speed – there is no preacher giving a forewarning; it is like a heart attack or stroke; maybe it will be tonight! The body of Christ now is fragmented; it will be called together in an instant. God knows no limits of time, and the only thing that matters is whether you are covered by the blood of Christ. He concluded his sermon by stating that He died for each of us, and now we are just waiting on Him. If you are not right with God, do not gamble! Christ is awaiting to forgive your sins, and to save your soul from eternal death if you would only accept him. The invitation was given to the assembled, and the service closed with fellowship. Devotions were completed by Hunter McDavid, who thanked the team for all of the day’s events. He chose to read a passage from 2 Kings 17, which was referencing the evil period of the Israelites. He stated that the book of 2 Kings was depressing; the Israelites disobeyed the law of God repeatedly, and Israel was carried away into captivity as a result. Why did kings with such a glorious history of blessing of God fall away? They did not care about God’s desires or God’s will for their lives. We can see that the king of Israel did evil in God’s site, and calamity came on the nation; around the “corner” in Chapter 18, we see Hezekiah became king, and he did what was right in God’s eyes. Life is always like that – no matter what chapter of life you are in, there is always a next chapter, and if it’s a bad chapter, the next chapter may be wonderful, and it is just ahead. We must have a love for sinners and for people, for thee will be some that we meet are good, and some that are bad. We must be steadfast in our labor so that it is in vain. Larry, Dave, and Anne gave their experiences today, with Larry relaying a chat he had with a young lady that was the daughter of the village nurse (Miss Tilly), and that he believed God was working in her heart (she said she was stubborn and had to see to believe). Larry said that, in one of the home’s he visited, an 81 year old man was asked if he was a Christian, and he replied that the was a “born-again Christian!” With many saying they are Christian, but not living a life as such, it’s good to know what kind of Christian you are! There were many in other stories that the team relayed from their experiences that day, It was evident that the team members were just as blessed by the day’s activities as they blessed the community, and to do the work that the Lord has given them during this mission trip!

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

Date and Time Posted: Monday July 13, 2015 - 2:09:21 pm

Sunday, July 12, 2015 The Team awoke to a partly cloudy, warm, humid day in Central America. Breakfast was at 0730, and consisted of a choice of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, the Belizean version of biscuits, bacon, fresh juice, and a choice of jams, including pineapple jam and cashew jam – another enjoyable meal for the team. At 0900, we left the compound for the short ride to Crooked Tree Baptist Church, the site of our VBSs and mission work this week. We met Pastor Delbert Raeburn. The men walked around the church structure to assess the damage to the existing tin roof so that we may have an idea of the scope of the construction job. It was apparent that the “south-side” of the church was where most of the damage to the tin and eaves was indicated. In addition, there appeared to be some damage to the steeple of the church, but the scope of this damage could not be easily assessed from the ground. Plans were made to return to the church later in the day to measure and complete the damage assessment so that the week’s construction activities could be detailed, and preparations made on Monday to obtain the supplies. The group then entered the church to begin the services. Pastor Raeburn asked Larry Browder to have one of the group teach the Sunday School class, and Pastor Larry asked Jerry to teach the adult class. The lesson content was taken from Philippians, chapter 4, versus 1-16. This is a familiar lesson, containing notable Scriptures, of a letter that Paul wrote to the Philippian church. Paul did not warn them of doctrinal issues here, but of relational issues, such as the conflict of two women in the church who had been workers for Christ. Just as Paul stated, as Christian missionaries, our desire and longing should be to see the lost saved, and we should not be warring with each other, but showing love and compassion for our fellow servants and workers. As Christians, we are members of an eternal family, and are to love all as Christ loved us. Paul’s exhortation was to help our fellow Christians, those whose names are written in the book of life, and who are part of our family. We are to treat all with moderation, to pray without ceasing, know that our Lord gives us the “peace of God” which passes all understanding. As a Christian, I know that I do not have to fear death (it is just a door to our home, to a better life, and as Paul said, to die is “gain.”) The peace of God is different than the world’s peace, for it is not in positive thinking, or good feelings, or absence of conflict, but knowing and trusting in the one who holds the world in his hands, and is always in control. As a result of our peace, we should be able to rejoice in the Lord always, and be joyful. As we see the things happening in the world, we can rejoice for we know that our joy will be ultimately fulfilled at the coming of our Lord Jesus. Paul wrote these things from a jail cell, and one often contemplates how could Paul be so joyous? The answer is given by Paul in this chapter – we are to see that our ultimate joy comes to us from Christ dwelling in us, regardless of the circumstances. A similar example of this was given by Admiral William Stockdale a few years ago. Admiral Stockdale was a Vietnam prisoner of war, who after being released, rose to the highest echelons of United States Military power. When asked about his Vietnam prisoner days, and how he knew those that would survive such torture, he had a quick answer. After prisoners were brought into the camp, within a few days he would identify those that would survive. Some prisoners listened to the capturers, and although being treated horribly, they believed their capturers when they said they were going to be released in a few days – at Christmas, or Easter, etc. When these days passed, they would become depressed, on an emotional roller coaster, one that ended in their deaths. Those who survived were able to face the day – one day at a time, and to see reality for what it is. Paul says that same thing when he says that we should know how to abound in all things; i.e., not be disturbed by our surroundings, but to be content in whatever situation we are in. As Christians, we see the things unfolding as God predicted for the last days, and when we see this, we are troubled within; however, that should not bother us. When asked how to respond to the world’s situation, the answer is simple – keep doing what God wants you to do. There’s nothing to turn back to, things aren’t going to get better, and we must be able to bear burden of the name of Jesus! Focus not on what should happen, or what you felt should happen or what you felt you should do, but on what God wants you to do, and you’ll feel his peace and contentment by following that choice. The service next consisted of songs, with a “welcome” for those members of the mission team that had not been to the church before. There was also congregational singing for those having a birthday this month, which included two of the team – Chuck Trese will have a birthday on the 16th, and Dave Almen had a birthday this past 7th of July. The children also sung a few songs, before a member of the church, Brother Robert, opened up the service with prayer, and then invited some of the team to come forward for singing. Jeremy Ketron, Holly McConnell, and Marie Jones went forward tossing a few well-known hymns: “Who am I?”, “Victory in Jesus,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Larry Browder then went forward to announce the schedule for the week’s activities and events, and Ella Frazier announced the medical activities, including the doctor’s visit on Monday, the training sessions for community members. Pastor Raeburn then brought the message from the Word of God. Pastor stated that he knew and worked with several of the team before on other mission work, including Chuck, Larry, and Jerry. The pastor began with Scripture from Matthew 19:16-26-the story of the rich man who went to Christ asking what he needed to do to have eternal life. Pastor stated that it reminded him of a story of a man who is hiring a driver to drive his family as he could not be there at all the times when they needed him. The family lived near a cliff, and the man was interviewing several potential drivers. He asked the first how close he could drive the car, with his family in the back, close to the cliff’s edge without going over – the first said five feet, the next was four feet, the next was three feet, and the fourth was one foot, before the fifth answer correctly that he would never go near the cliff as it would put the man’s family in jeopardy, and that he could not do. Many today are judging the race of life as if there was a tomorrow; it does not make any sense, particularly if they are delaying making a decision for Christ. There are no guarantees in this life. Many men at 90 years of age are not Christians, and are still delaying the decisions as if they are arrogant enough to say that they are in control of the future. Others allow the possessions of life become a burden, as Christ indicated that it is difficult for the rich to go to heaven, for they set conditions on getting to heaven or becoming a Christian, that are almost impossible to do. This man’s possessions are nothing to God; He is looking for those to do His will. The rich man asked a question and God gave an answer; not what the rich man wanted or expected. There is none that can pluck us out of the hand of God; God gives good advice in His Word, and God is going to help those who earnestly follow him, and call upon Him in their need. There is hope for us in this world, but it is only in Jesus. The church service concluded with a communion service in which Brother Larry and Brother Dave Almen, assisted Pastor Raeford in. This service is done in remembrance of what our Lord did in suffering, and dying on the cross, on our behalf After the service, the team returned to the hotel, and had a lunch of fresh fish, chicken, fresh fruit, potatoes, garlic bread, before beginning preparations for the week. Ella led a group of the women in preparing the medical supplies to allow them to be taken to the clinic on Monday. A group bagged the beans, rice, and powdered milk in preparation for distribution, some to the church, with the rest to be distributed via evangelizing visits on Monday afternoon. The construction “group” reviewed the damage to the church in an attempt to set the priorities for the week. Dave Almen, David Stokes, and Chuck Trese returned to the church using a ladder borrowed from the hotel, to climb onto the roof of the church, and take measurements to determine what supplies to order on Monday for the construction work. At 0500, the team again enjoyed a good dinner of pineapple juice, pork, chicken, potato salad, beans and rice, and carrot cake for desert, before preparing to leave for the evening service. We arrived at the church at 0630 to the music of a “trio” of men from another local church, playing the bass and lead guitars, and singing old, recognizable hymns. The men of the team, along with Pastor Raeburn, and another visiting pastor, laid hands on Brother Larry, and prayed for God’s blessings on his preaching this evening, as well as the week’s activities. The church services started with the trio singing, as well as singing from members of the church, and a church group from a nearby church. The visiting pastor got up to read a few verses from John 15, and challenged the attendees to ask themselves if they are joined to the “true vine.” He stated that Jesus is the vine, and without Him, we are nothing. Brother Jeremy Ketron then got up, and sung a couple of songs. Brother Larry then gave the message from God’s Word for the evening. Larry said that he is glad that he worships “a real God” – a God that Satan is trying to stop people from hearing about, and from accepting and worshiping. Larry read Acts, chapter 16, verses 6-16, concerning the story of Lydia. Larry said that he liked the book of Acts, for it is a book of “action.” In the Scriptures of this chapter, it tells the story of Paul’s vision to go to Macedonia. We don’t know how the Holy Spirit told Paul that he should not go to Asia, but he indicates that he is to go a different way – to Macedonia. When we seek God’s will, make sure that we have a direction that is consistent with God’s will. Paul received this calling, and went, just like the team did for this “Mission By The Lakeside in Crooked Tree Belize.” God’s people need to have a vision for the lost; Paul did not waste any time, but went directly to Macedonia, for he went directly to “lift up the name of Jesus.” God knows our hearts, and he knows if we have the right motivation – if we have a vision of the “lost going to hell.” Paul knew that he had a limited time in which to do God’s work, just like the Team have this week; it is a “limited time offer” for the people of Crooked Tree to hear the Word of God from the members of this team. In addition, Larry indicated some main points of the passage: a) Lydia was changed – not only was she given a desire to know the Lord, but she had a desire to tell others in her family about Jesus, for she had a job for Jesus – to be His messenger; b) we must KNOW that we KNOW that we KNOW that our heart is right with God, and that we are destined for heaven; not think so, or hope so, but KNOW so; c) we must go forth, for Lydia brought Jesus to her household, and the Bible says that when she was baptized, so was her household, meaning that she had brought the message of Jesus to her family, and that they had accepted Jesus as Saviour! d) we must be willing for God to use us. There is not a one of us that cannot say that we have many around us, including family members, that need the Lord, and we must be willing to stand up for them, and to bring them the Good News. Larry told the story that, as a young minister, he was told to go and talk to a neighbour, a man known to be a drunk and difficult to talk to, but Larry decided he had things to do otherwise, contrary to what he knew that God had told him to do. Larry was a gardener, and while performing some work at this activity, he managed to injure his leg, putting a tourniquet on his leg to stop the bleeding, and crying out for help. It was then that God reminded him that he should not have been there in the first place, but don’t what God had called him to do. We must be obedient and do what God has told us to do. He read Joshua, chapter 3, verse 5, when Joshua was told the Israelites to “sanctify themselves so they would see miracles done tomorrow.” God uses “clean vessels” to do his work, and he makes the unclean vessels clean for his purposes. As a 13-year old boy that came to accept Jesus, God saw him the same way that he saw the drunk sinner, as a sinner in need of salvation from a just God. The Team returned to the compound, and concluded the day with devotions lead by Anne Holtzclaw. She read Proverbs 3:5, which tells us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart, and lean not to our own understanding. Do you trust the Lord, she asked the Team members. She reminded us that, if we trust in the Lord, we will someday “fly away to heaven,” a reference to the song “I’ll Fly Away” that was sung earlier in evening by some team members when they were practicing. Sometimes, she reminded us, we do not show our trust in God. Anne's grandson is 15 and his Dad has passed away; her grandson has shown bitterness toward his Mom and toward God. Anne stated that she even questioned why it had happened, and she had to remind herself that we take a narrow view of things of this life. Many times we look at what we don’t have, and miss the things that we do have; we must trust that our Heavenly Father, God, loves us, and that we must trust Him, for this life is short – like a vapour that passes away – and that someday we must trust in Him and His ways. Brother Larry then concluded the devotions, asking for prayer for a young lady named Hope, who was lost, and who gave a lot of excuses as to why she would not accept Christ. Chuck reminded us that we need to not delay what we can do right now, and with that, we prayed for this young lady that something might be said to lead her to the Saviour. Continue to pray for this team, as there will be opportunities for many to witness to the lost this week, and pray that God work’s through us. Paul tells us, in Romans 1:9, that we should desire God’s witness of us being the servants of God in the Spirit of the gospel of his Son”.” We are here in Belize as messengers sent from the Most High God, and as Messengers of our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

Date and Time Posted: Monday July 13, 2015 - 10:43:32 am

Saturday July 11, 2015 Greetings to you from the Belize Mission Team in Crooked Tree, Belize, on this glorious day in the name of our Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ! What a blessing it is to once again be in this small country in Central America, and again having the opportunity to present the Gospel – the greatest News of all – that our Lord is the one True and Living God, and that He reigns! Fourteen of our team arrived at the Tri-Cities Airport early Saturday morning for the beginning of a wonderful mission trip. Larry Browder began the morning with trepidation as he did not know what to expect from Delta concerning whether they were to charge fees for the luggage that was going to accompany the team. Larry had emailed Delta earlier about getting the luggage exempt from fees, but had heard no response. During the week, he had contacted the local travel agency to check on the request. Larry had assumed, since he did not get a “bounce back” to his early email, that it had reached its destination. After Delta had indicated that no email had been received, it was then he found that he had made an error on the email address where he sent the original email, and Delta was going to charge the team for the team’s luggage, and the extra bags containing supplies, because the email was not sent at least 14 days prior to departure. When Larry explained what had happened with Delta, the agent behind the counter said to not “worry about it; she’d take care of everything.” Although Larry was incredulous, God was in charge, and He was showing that we should trust in Him to help with our difficulties. All of the luggage was free of airline charges, relieving the team of this financial burden, and showing that miracles do happen. Praise be to God who gives us help in our time of need! The team met together in the airport in Atlanta, where Jerry joined them from his flight from Charlotte. The team did not have long to wait, as they quickly boarded the plane for Belize. The weather forecast for the week is an increasing chance of rain each day, but we are confident that God will bless this team in its activities. The flight down was uneventful, but when we got to the airport in Belize, there were long lines as two other planes had landed before we arrived. We were met at the airport by Brother Dave and Verna Alman, along with personnel from Bird’s Eye Lodge in Crooked Tree. The luggage was loaded into a small trailer, and taken directly to the hotel; the team, however, loaded into a bus and Dave’s vehicle for a short drive to Old Belize. There we enjoyed a good lunch, followed by some recreational activities (some swam, some toured a museum of Belizean history, while others relaxed). At approximately 0445, we boarded the vehicle for the drive to Bird’s Eye Lodge. On the way, we had to make a stop to purchase the beans, rice, and powdered milk for distribution this week. A portion of this material was to be given to the church for their members, and a portion was to be use in evangelizing the community. From the first store, we purchased the rice and powdered milk; however, while the team was discussing what type of beans to purchase (they had a limited supply), another team bought all they had, forcing us to look for alternatives. At a second store, we found they had no large quantities of beans, but our drive from Bird’s Eye Lodge, a young man named Leonard, went across the street, and found a store that had the beans in the quantities that we had planned for. The monies set aside for the rice and beans did not include money for milk; however, it was sufficient for all of the purchases. After a short ride to Bird’s Eye Lodge, we disembarked from the vehicles, and then proceeded to have an orientation with the hotel manager. We then went to have dinner in the lodge restaurant, followed by devotions led by Billy Frazier. Billy reminded us that we are blessed to be chosen by God for this team this week, and that we should be in continuous prayer that God’s will be done, and that we remain obedient to His calling. As Paul stated in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, where he writes to those in Thessalonica to remain faithful in service and labouring for our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ: “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holy and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.” As did Paul and his fellow missionaries, we are to work diligently and committedly to spreading the Truth of the Gospel. The Team then turned-in for a good night’s rest to prepare us for the days ahead. Keep this team in your prayers as we go forth. We have heard great news concerning the young converts from last year, with many attending weekly Bible Study to be disciple in the faith. We are hearing that they are growing as young Christians, and have a fervent zeal for our Lord, and for the knowledge of the Good News. We are hoping to see, and talk to, many of those young men, and to let them know that many on the team will be praying for their growth in the knowledge of our Lord. This trip is a combination of activities: 1) we are going to be undertaking a major construction job with this group, the replacement of part of the tin roof of the church, and are blessed with people who have a desire for this activity; 2) we have a nurse, and we have some medical supplies and kits for distribution, as well as there are plans to have some training sessions for community members; and 3) we will be having a three-day Bible camp, at which we will be providing physical and spiritual food to the children of this community. Pray that God will put us in the right place at the right time to help lead them to the one who will change their eternal destiny though the salvation He has provided through the shedding of his innocent blood on Calvary, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Posted By:Jerry McMurray

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