I recently stumbled across a statistic which said 1-in-70 people from Belize attend a church regularly (Church of Jesus Christ). This caught my attention, and I started to wonder how missionaries were in Belize. I decided to research the current and historical missionary involvement there.
How have missionaries been involved in Belize? The earliest missionary venture started in 1524. From this venture, one of the first churches was planted near Xunatunich. In 1684, both Franciscans and Spaniards were martyred for sharing the Gospel. Then in 1898, the Holy Family Sisters came and started a school called, “The Austin High School for Girls.” They went on to start three more schools. Today, Vineyard missions, along with other ministries, are working to bring education and healthcare to the poorest parts of Belize.
To start, let’s look at the missionary involvement throughout history in Belize.
Historical Missionary Involvement in Belize
Missionary involvement first started in Belize during the 1500s. Here is a timeline of different mission movements on Belize:
Missionaries went on a Spanish expedition to bring the Gospel to the people in Belize and other places in Central America. A church building has been found near the Maya site from this time period. It is believed to be one of the first churches ever planted in Belize.
In 1684, three Franciscans and an unknown amount of Spaniards were martyred. They were believed to be killed as a sacrifice to their Belizean people’s gods. During this time, a second church was planted near Tipu. The remains of the church can be found there today.
During this time, the Society of Jesus, the headquarters of the Catholic church, decided to focus on building churches throughout the Caribbean. The first Catholic church was built around 1855 in Belize. They had to re-build the church only a few years later due to a fire. This church planting movement is known as the Jesuit mission. This mission brought a strong Catholic church to the people in Belize.
During 1898, the Holy Family Sisters came to the Garifuna communities. They came to help assist a small school in the area. Years later, in 2000, they started their own school called, “The Austin High School for Girls.” They went on to help support and start three more schools. Their work with the children and schools was impactful to the Belizian people. Many Belizian women even decided to join the Holy Family Sisters.
Current Missionary Involvement in Belize
Currently, there are many missionaries working among the people in Belize. Here are 3 mission organizations with missionaries in this area.
Vineyard Missions is an organization that partners with missionaries and churches around the world. They partner with multiple missionaries and organizations in Belize. One of their partnerships is with Vitamin Angels. This charity works to provide mothers and children at risk with meals. David and Dupe Adegbami are missionaries who are supported by Vineyard Missions. They are working to build schools in areas where there is no school currently.
Vineyard Missions saw the human trafficking industry in Belize, so they partnered with SHINE: Shaping Healthy Identities through Nurturing. This program helps girls learn essential life skills in order to break the cycle of poverty. Through this partnership, they were able to open up a SHINE activity center and a safe house for children in the town of San Pedro.
The ultimate goal is to plant Vineyard churches in Belize. They would also want to help disciple, local pastors, in the area. Vineyard missions are working to bring the Gospel to at-risk children and families.
If you’re a teacher, a factory worker, a mom, a youth in high school, or whatever – you’ve got a role. You can be people that bring hope to people that have no hope.— Ross Naylor Tatterson, Pastor, Without Walls Vineyard
Next, Belize Christian Impact (BCI), is a family-run mission that works within the poorest areas of Belize. The missionaries, Harvey and Rosella Plett, were both raised in Belize. BCI reaches out to the community through outreach and mentoring programs. Over the past five years, BCI has painted schools, hosted VBS for 100 kids, and completed 90 home renovations.
Along with these community outreaches, the Plett family has been working to train missionaries. They have trained 500 missionaries so far. The Plett family is dedicated to missions and training people to bring the Gospel around the world.
BCI hosts short term mission trips. They offer trips in the spring and summertime. They also offer customizable trips for a week to a year. They give people the opportunity to experience life in Belize while getting involved with outreach. You can learn more about their mission trips here.
This trip really opened my eyes to some things I might have taken for granted in our church, our living conditions and our everyday lives.— Anthony, who attended a mission trip with BCI
Mission to the World (MTW) works around the world to plant churches. One of their sites is located in Belize. Ray and Michele Call are the site leaders. They work to plant churches, evangelize, host Bible studies and support local schools. They also work to train up pastors and local church leaders.
One of the ways they are able to serve the community is through their Presbyterian Medical Clinic. The clinic is placed in an area where people are unable to visit a hospital due to its distance and cost. Without the healthcare clinic, they would not receive medical care. This medical clinic builds trust between the community and Ray and Michele’s team.
MTW also offers medical mission trips. They host four medical school students each summer. Each student is welcome to stay for two weeks and up to the whole summer. The student determines how long they can stay. They also offer summer intern positions for women to assist with processing patient information and nursing tasks. You can learn more about these opportunities here.
A woman came to our Presbyterian Medical Clinic for medical care and admitted to some difficulties in her marriage. While giving her the care she needed, one of our missionaries was able to pray with her. Several months later, the woman returned with her husband; they were reconciled. Though she had originally come to the clinic in search of physical healing, the love and care she found there opened her heart to the Great Physician as well.-A testimony from the Presbyterian Medical Clinic
The history of missions in Belize is one filled with men and women who were willing to serve. Men in 1684 were martyred for sharing the Gospel. In the late 1890s, the Holy Family Sisters showed the people in Belize the love of Christ by helping to start schools for the children. Learning the history of missions in Belize can help us better appreciate the work being done in Belize today. We now know about missionaries who dedicated their lives to bringing the Gospel to Belize decades ago.
Today, the Gospel is still being spread to Belize through missionaries. Vineyard Mission is focusing on children at risk and providing them with a safe home. Belize Christian Impact is focusing on helping the community through house renovation projects and hosting VBS for their children. Mission to the World is bringing healthcare to people without the ability to visit a doctor. All three of these ministries are showing the love of Christ in different yet effective ways.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.— 1 Chronicles 16:24