October began with the unexpected and sudden news of Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder and pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, going to Heaven. He has battled with lung cancer for several years and early morning on October 3, he moved from his earthly tent into his new home, eternal in Heaven. Just hours before as I was getting ready for bed, the thought came to mind about how I would react the day he would leave and when I woke up it was a reality as the news reels on facebook filled with the announcements, tributes, memories and pictures people had taken with him on every occasions imaginable. The news hit me very hard as thoughts began to flood my mind of the powerful influence this one man had on my life. At a Saturday Night Concert at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa back in January 1978 was when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ after hearing Pastor Chuck sharing about the life of Samson; a man who could have, should have and never did fulfill God’s purposes for his life because he failed to make a full and complete commitment of his all to God. I found myself at the front of the church with several others after what seemed like forever battling in my seat why I should not walk forward. It seemed as if Pastor Chuck was speaking to me directly in that room filled with over 2000 people and when the invitation was given, he waiting patiently for me to come forward. I was the last one to walk forward and he looked at me with those piercing eyes and big smile and said, “Let’s pray”! Chuck Smith became a father figure to me from that day and I never imagined a world without him in it throughout my lifetime. I’ve had the great privilege of introducing him for several years on the live broadcasts of the Sunday mornings and evenings and midweek services from the church and was on his staff for several years in the late 80ies and early 90ies. Even as I write this, so many memories, tears, gratitude, respect, adoration and regrets flood my heart and mind as I grieve and rejoice at the same time. Needless to say, the entire month was a rollercoaster of emotions. Please pray for his family and the work that he was so faithful to do to the very end that it would continue in greater ways!
One Life touching countless Lives:
As I’ve been pondering the work of God’s Spirit in my life and the impact that Pastor Chuck Smith has played in that, the phrase ‘lives touching lives’ came directly from the fact of his life’s impact on mine. Several hours after I received the news of Chuck’s home going, a Belizean young man whom I had discipled/mentored over the years sent me a text message when he heard the news (yes, even here in Belize through Christian Radio) telling me how grateful he was for a man that he never met but that through my life and ministry down here he has been greatly impacted and his life has changed forever. Ruel had spent some time with me at Lighthouse Christian Radio when he was going through some very difficult times and I told him that he was to set 8:00 AM aside each morning to listen to The Word for Today with his Bible open and pen and paper in hand, which he did. I was greatly encouraged by that and it set off a barrage of thoughts and realization of the fact that all of the ministries I’m engaged in today here in Belize and beyond is a reflection that this one man’s life and impact. And I am only one in millions whose life has been touched and is touching others as a result of God’s working in one surrendered life. Thank you Jesus for Chuck Smith!
The San Pedro Bible Parade 2013:
The pastors involved with the San Pedro Evangelical Alliance chose Monday, October 14 for the Annual Bible Parade since it was Commonwealth Day, a national holiday of Belize so that the members of their churches can participate. This year we chose a different route through the town as we recalled a major traffic jam that was caused last year due to the great turnout. Each parade I’m always overwhelmed when I see the amount of believers participating with banners, signs, decorative floats and the amount of people including children passing out gospel tracts to the onlookers who lined the streets. We met at the Boca del Rio Park, north of the town, and paraded through the streets with several ‘live’ worship bands singing, shouting and dancing as each church took their places in orderly fashion. The parade ended at the Central Park where each church did a
presentation. I was asked to open the evening at the Park and shared of the great joy of watching God work over the past 3 years in forming the Evangelical Alliance and the part that Lighthouse Christian Radio played in building up the Christian Community in San Pedro Town. I commented on the bond that God has placed among the pastors through our monthly meeting and even though I have been at the mercy of a translator at the meetings and how the love of Christ united our hearts in such a sweet way. All pastors are Spanish speaking except two of us as most of the churches are Spanish speaking made up of San Pedranos or immigrants from various Central American countries.
A few highlights for me were the amount of children in the parade and the amount of youth that participated in the presentation in Central Park. The talents and eagerness of the youth in the dramas, skits, worship bands and special songs encouraged me greatly. A young man, Christian recording artist from Panama provided special music and encouraged those gathered as well as boldly shared the gospel in Spanish. Pastor Marvin Gomez, the president of the Evangelical Alliance shared about the reliability of Bible as God’s Word to us for life and godliness. The entire day was a great blessing and God was faithful in providing good weather throughout the entire Bible Parade and at the end of the evening just as the last person closed the evening in prayer and a brief time of cleaning up and fellowship, it began to rain very hard. Again, I was so blessed to see how God has done something that was never done before in San Pedro Town; uniting 10 pastors together to make such a bold stand for the Bible, the God of the Bible and our love for the people of San Pedro!
We received an email informing us that we were recognized at this year’s Crime Stoppers Convention which took place in Barbados and given a certificate of Appreciation for airing their public service announcement on Lighthouse Christian Radio. Crime Stoppers have been in Belize for several years now and has played a major part in the battle against crime. They have an 800 number which is answered in Florida and the message is then sent back to the respective Police Department in Belize keeping the caller anonymous. They produced 2 public service ads, on in Spanish and the other in English and we’ve been playing them during our Community Watch which airs four times daily. It was a surprise to hear that we were receiving such reorganization and since I was going to be out of the country, Elmer Montero went in my place to receive the certificate in at a ceremony held in Belize City.
With Elmer Montero leaving us at the end of the year, we saw the need to make preparations to replace him after three years of service. His computer skills have been a major asset to Lighthouse and we appreciate his hard and diligent work over the years. He came to us without any radio background and struggled with delivering the daily News broadcast and today, he sounds like a professional. He was able to complete a lifelong goal of getting his Associates of Arts degree by attending night school while working full time during the day time at Lighthouse. He is now enrolled in an online school pursuing Computer Technologies after finishing a Online Business Course. Realizing that he no longer wants to stay on the island and desiring to fulfill another goal of having his own computer repair service, Elmer will be transitioning back to his home village in the Cayo District. As with the many others who has served at Lighthouse, weather full time employees or volunteers over the past nine years, it has been a blessing to watch how God used their time to invest in the ministry while He made investments in their lives that led them into successful careers and ministries. We are grateful and thankful for Elmer’s contribution to the ministry and we pray God’s richest blessings upon him in the next venture of his life.
Guillermo Rodriguez, a recent graduate from San Pedro High School has joined our staff and is quickly learning from Elmer in our News department both gathering and delivering the Mid day News which is rebroadcasted in the evening. He is apart of the worship team at the Shalom Church and is desiring to pursue music and worship leading in the future and currently looking into music ministry school in Mexico. In the meantime he has jump onboard the Lighthouse working 7 hours daily. He had volunteered and completed his community service hours with us while in high school. He is quickly moving toward broadcasting the entire 30 minutes News which consist of Local, National, Mexico & Central American and International News. Guillermo and Jeff are working together on the “Three to Four Special Request Hour” which is primarily in Spanish!
Jeffrin (Jeff) Usher is coming up on his second month with us and completed his training period but still learning daily. I have learned and been trained to do whatever I see needing to be done and to do it efficiently, professionally and consistently and to keep things clean, orderly and doing so without having to do a lot of back tracking while following instructions. I have to constantly remind myself that not everyone have received such training and I’m not to expect it from them. With many coming and going, needless to say, it has been continuous training along with seeking to develop their life skills. Recurring thoughts over the past months; you cannot operate a ministry without likemindedness with passionate hearts to serve the Lord. I vowed that I would not hire anyone that was not a believer and no one under 21 years of age, no more 18 and 19 year old. Now, most of the
guys that I’ve been ministering to, mentoring, one on one counseling and evangelism are in the age bracket of 18 – early 30ies and in various stages of spiritual growth and development and most nonbelievers; which seems to be my primary ministry and it’s truly 24/7. Well, needless to say, I struggled when I found out that Jeff was 18 and not a Christian because I knew what I had vowed not to do yet my heart went out to him and when sharing it with one of my Board Members, he asked me if I had an option. Saying all of that to say that it has been a rough and challenging couple months BUT GOD….(two of my most favorite words in scripture) has been working in me and most importantly in Jeff. He has giving me a heart for this young man as he shares his hurts, pains and desire to know the Lord. After one of our long talks a few days ago, he ask for prayers to understand the gospel. Once again I am reminded of what I am here for, to touch lives as my lives have so greatly touched mine. Please pray for Jeff that the eyes of his understanding will be opened and that he would see Jesus and make Him his precious Lord and best Friend!
I was hoping for a few weeks off to get rested and revived after the nonstop seasons collide with the next but could not. I was able to take an 8 days trip to California to see my doctor about my swollen knee since it was not getting better. The result was ‘baker cyst’ caused from standing too much and too long. While there I was able to see my dentist and get a couple of fillings replaced and get my eye
glasses repaired. But I was especially glad that the Calvary Chapel Men’s Conference and the Tribute to Chuck Smith was during that same period of time and was able to attend both and greatly encouraged and blessed. I needed both of those events very much and came back to Belize refreshed and right back in the heart of what God has for me at this time!
Finally, I returned straight to San Pedro Town after a red-eye flight to Miami to speak at the San Pedro High School Bullying Awareness Assembly where over 500 students in attendance here the Good News that Jesus is the only one who can change a bully and make him/her a blessing. I recalled to them that bullying stems from the fallen nature that is in rebellion to God and seeks to elevate itself over others to get his will and desires accomplished. I thought about all those that God had radically changes and recounted to them lives like Raul Ries whose life was that of a bully until he met Christ. Any examples of bullying came to mind from scripture and concluded about God creating each of us of His good pleasure and so much so that every hair on our head is counted and we are valuable and precious to Him. Please continue to pray for the students of San Pedro High School as the vice principal shared with me the increasing challenges they are having with out of control students!
Thank you for taking the time to read this very lengthy Update and for praying for the various people, requests, and work of God’s Spirit in and through me!
In His amazing grace and unfailing love,