Dear Brothers and Sisters,
By God's grace, about a month ago I returned from a week-long mission trip to Belize with the Centers for Apologetics Research (CFAR). And I can honestly say that God did some amazing things there because of your prayers and support. Thank you!
Now I'd like to share with you a little more about serving the Lord in Belize. My itinerary took me on a rapid tour of the country — two days in Belize City and two days in Punta Gorda, followed by two days in Belmopan (the capital) and two days back in Belize City. Everyone I met was amazed that I never visited the Cayes or the famous Mayan ruins, but there simply wasn't time.
Several things really stood out. The first was the Jehovah's Witness assembly hall, located right down the road from my lodgings in Ladyville (outside of Belize City). My Belizean friends informed me that it's the largest JW center in all of Central America! And I can believe it — the place is huge and bustling with activity. We'd often hear buses on their way to the assembly hall. Those buses were a daily reminder of the problem of cults in Belize, and it saddened me to see how many people were being deceived by the Watchtower Society of Brooklyn, New York.
Another thing unexpectedly burdened my soul as one of my hosts flipped through television channels one evening. I naturally expected to see the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), and the Catholic station was no surprise. However, I was shocked to see a Seventh-day Adventist channel. You read that right — not just a SDA program or series, but an entire network dedicated to teaching the errors of Seventh-day Adventism. I was stunned by the pervasiveness of the Adventist Church, which claims one out of every ten Belizeans as followers.
But what saddened my heart even more was the tremendous ignorance among Christians in Belize (especially pastors) about biblical discernment and cults. Again and again I heard questions like, "You mean that Mormons aren't Christian?" All too often, their churches do not have the leaders that the Apostle Paul insists upon: "He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it" (Titus 1:9). The pastors seemed so hungry to learn more about God's truth. As I spoke in churches, they would take rapid notes on what I was saying, and they often asked for more resources to help them combat these errors.
All of this came home to me as I was interviewed on a live, call-in cable television show the night before my departure. The host asked where local viewers could learn more about apologetics and cults. I could only direct them to Da Wata Fountin, a storefront outreach in Punta Gorda run by CFAR missionary Julia De Shong (too far away for most Belizeans to visit) and to CFAR's web site. So much more is needed in Belize and Central America. They are facing the same challenges today that the apostles struggled with long ago: "For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (Jude 4). I returned home seeing the difficulties and complexities facing the church more clearly than ever.
At the same time, I also saw glimmers of hope! In Punta Gorda, I spent some time with Gideon, a humble man who loves God's truth and desires to reach out to the cultists living in his community. Pastors I met with also were interested in defending the faith. I pray that God will use these men as well as other nationals with a heart for the truth to partner with CFAR in strengthening the church.
After coming back, I'm more aware than ever about the threat of the cults in Belize and around the world. Yes, the challenges are enormous — but we serve an all-powerful, all-knowing God. I trust in Him to work His will where His presence is desperately needed.
I now believe that God is calling me to serve Him in proclaiming His truth and exposing error internationally. As a result, my family is in the process of becoming missionaries with CFAR full-time after graduation. This has been an important decision for us, but after much prayer and counsel, we look forward to serving Him in this way.
However, this does not mean that our difficulties are behind us! I still have to finish my seminary studies. We will need to gain enough support for our family to minister overseas. Please pray for us! Of course, we welcome your comments as well. What do you think?
Additionally, Paul Carden is planning on a trip to Uganda to minister as well as assess its possibility as an apologetics hub for East Africa. If he comes back with a positive assessment, we may go back together in January to see if the Lord may want my family to serve there. His trip is from September 9-19, so please keep it in prayer as well.
Jude closes his letter with a wonderful statement of confidence: "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen" (Jude 24-25). May God continue to bless and use my family and the Centers for Apologetics Research in the expansion and maturing of His kingdom
Because of His grace,
Labels: Personal Ministry