CALMS has been working in Belize for 12 years now and has found it to be a beautiful, yet complicated little country. With only 300,000 people, it is the smallest of the Central American nations, but has at least seven distinct cultural groups within its borders. These include Garifuna, Creole, Mennonite, Chinese, Mayan Indian, Central Americans, and North Americans (Canadians and US citizens who live part time or full time in Belize). Many people believe that Belize fits in more with the Caribbean area than with its Spanish speaking neighbors since English is the official language and like Jamaica and the Bahamas, Belize was until 1985 a British protectorate.
CALMS has worked with many of these cultures over the years and currently sends around 15 mission teams each year to serve with our Belizean partners.
To help facilitate our teams and to coordinate logistics with our Belizean partners, we are thankful to have as part of our CALMS team, Carolyn Boden, CALMS’ Mission Representative in the country.
Belize is an international tourist destination, and in fact, tourism contributes the bulk of Belize’s gross national product. Yet in addition to its beautiful beaches, its unrivaled barrier reef, jungle ecology, and interesting Mayan history,
Belize also faces numerous challenges, including spiritual confusion, a need for more equipped leaders, and a lack of enough full-time pastors and other church workers.
Since most churches can’t fully support their pastors, most church workers are bi-vocational and thus unable to devote sufficient time to ministry. Most church workers have not had sufficient Biblical or mission training, so this has opened a door for CALMS to help equip national church workers through seminars, workshops, and discipleship training. Recently, CALMS sent a young man from Belize to be part of S E N D North America, a Christian ministry that prepares young adults to make and grow disciples.
CALMS has responded to the spiritual and physical needs of the country by connecting US churches to specific villages throughout the country. This includes long-term relationships and strategies to help the communities become healthier in every aspect including health, education, leadership, infrastructure, community solidarity, and especially spiritual life.
To prepare US congregational leaders to work effectively in Belize, CALMS provides special on-site training through Get to Know the Mission trips several times each year.
CALMS has also sponsors discipleship conferences and seminars and sends short-term volunteers to encourage and equip Belizean leaders through retreats and seminars. We have also helped facilitate special services to at-risk people like those with disabilities through mobility clinics that provide wheel chairs and spiritual care.
In our ministries, CALMS has worked through partnership agreements with Belizean institutions and churches. For example, for the past six years, CALMS has worked closely with the Ministry of Education to equip their district education leaders who in turn equip other teachers in their districts. This allows us to multiply our efforts and help Belizean educators learn how to incorporate the Christian faith into their curriculum.