ELLIJAY — First Baptist Church in Ellijay has carved themselves out a place in Belize City, the largest city of Belize in Central America, and taken multiple mission trips there to minister to the physical, material, and spiritual needs of the people.
Under the leadership of Glenn Cummings, who became the pastor in December of 2016, the church continues to be a mission-oriented, mission-minded, mission-engaged church.
In July a team of missionaries traveled to Belize City to minister on Mayflower Street, an area in the city in much need of attention. Dalila Ical, a reporter for one of the radio stations, stated, “The living conditions in the Mayflower Street area, most commonly known as Ghost Town, are unfavorable and … it has been that way for decades … [T]he area is cluttered with garbage. Residents, most of whom live in small wooden houses, have had to bear with these conditions and raise their children here.”
When Hurricane Earl made landfall in Belize on August 4, 2016 with sustained winds of 80 mph the storm added to the already depressed, chaotic conditions in the small Central American country.
Brian Nealey, one of the mission volunteers from the Ellijay church, was interviewed by the local television in Belize City.
“We’re down here just taking care of the basic necessities, repairing some things so that these little children can be safe and have a lot more security and protection around them,” he commented. “We primarily want them to know that we love them and Jesus loves them.”
Repairing stairways and a community
Jon Jones, one of the missionaries from Ellijay, stated, “We had a team of more than 20 people in Belize and we just returned from our trip on Sunday, July 23rd. Every year for the past eight years we have gone to Belize during the summer and we do a combination of things.
“This year we conducted Vacation Bible Schools for some of the local churches. We also were engaged in a soccer ministry with teenager and had crafts for the girls.
“Some of the men joined me in doing some construction work in the Mayflower area. We also employed five Belizean men from Mayflower Street all week to help us. There were stairways that needed repair and we repaired or rebuilt six different ones. We also made sure that the people had good safe plumbing and repaired leaks in their roofs.”
First Baptist Ellijay mission teams also go to Belize to host spiritual retreats and witness to those who are lost.
The family structure in Belize is one of absent fathers and unwed mothers with large families. Gang activity in Belize City has been rampant in the past and at one time it was the sixth most likely place on earth to die from a gunshot wound.
Many youth and adults have accepted Jesus over the past eight years, and five of the gang members who did so have since been killed in subsequent gang-related shootings.
The mission teams from Ellijay have endeavored to reach into the gang culture and break down the strongholds of Satan. They have hosted Christian retreats for gang members and through the prayerfulness and perseverance of the mission teams things are changing and God is being glorified.
A mission with clarity
When a church focuses on one area year after year, they begin to see spiritual victories that are genuine and lasting.
By seeing the living conditions of people improved, noting that those who are hungry are fed, being a part of insuring that medical needs are being met, having lives changed, and souls saved churches planted fuels the passion of the mission teams to be more like Jesus (Matt. 25:35-40).
The FBC Ellijay Belize mission is now focusing on sponsoring young Belize students to help them stay in school through paying for uniform, lunch, and school tuition fees.
Jon Jones states that the best way to insure a child has a chance to survive in Belize, or anywhere, is for that child to remain in school and get an education. This also helps each child receive at least one good meal per day, as what they eat at school may be the only meal they have.
When mission trips are carefully planned, enthusiastically supported financially by a church body, and earnestly prayed for the missionaries come home with not only a feeling of accomplishment, but with clarity and direction about how they can more effectively serve the Lord in their home church and community.