Please read the Missionary Report from Belize (below)

Sabbath, October 25, 2014

“Putting our trust in God, we are to move steadily forward, doing His work with unselfishness, in humble dependence upon Him, committing to His providence ourselves and all that concerns our present and future, holding the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end, remembering that we receive the blessings of heaven, not because of our worthiness, but because of Christ’s worthiness and our acceptance, through faith in Him, of God’s abounding grace.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 38.

Israel in terrible danger

1. What terror gripped the Israelites when they saw the Egyptian chariots closing in on them?

Exodus 14:10-12 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. 11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

“When the Israelites beheld the Egyptian host in pursuit, some upon horses and some in chariots, and equipped for war, their hearts failed them. The Red Sea was before, the Egyptian host behind. They could see no way of escape. A shout of triumph burst from the Egyptians to find Israel completely in their power. The Israelites were greatly terrified.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 265.

“True, they were in a place from which there was no possibility of release unless God Himself interposed to save them; but they were brought into this strait by obeying the divine commands….

“It was not an easy thing to hold the hosts of Israel in waiting before the Lord. They were excited and full of terror. They lacked discipline and self-control. Impressed by the horrors of their situation, they became violent and unreasonable. They expected speedily to fall into the hands of their oppressors, and their wailings and recriminations were loud and deep.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 23. 

Answers to the cry for help 

2. What inspiring message did Moses give them from the Lord? How did Heaven answer their desperate cry in the moment of greatest need?

Exodus 14:13-16 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. 15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 

“True, there was no possibility of deliverance unless God Himself should interpose for their release; but having been brought into this position in obedience to the divine direction, Moses felt no fear of the consequences. His calm and assuring reply to the people was, ‘Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.’ Exodus 14:13, 14.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 284.

“He encouraged them to trust in God, and withhold their expressions of unbelief, and they should see what the Lord would do for them. Moses earnestly cried to the Lord to deliver His chosen people.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 207.

“The psalmist, describing the passage of the sea by Israel, sang, ‘Thy way was in the sea, and Thy paths in the great waters, and Thy footsteps were not known. Thou leddest Thy people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.’ Psalm 77:19, 20, R.V.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 287.

The Lord’s intervention for His people

3. How did the Lord prevent the Egyptians from getting close to the Israelites and force them to return to slavery? What order did the Lord give Moses to provide a way of escape?

Exodus 14:19, 20 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

“The Egyptians could not see the Hebrews; for the cloud of thick darkness was before them, which cloud was all light to the Israelites. Thus did God display His power to prove His people, whether they would trust in Him after giving them such tokens of His care and love for them, and to rebuke their unbelief and murmuring.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 208.

“Jesus stood at the head of that vast army. The cloudy column by day and the pillar of fire by night represented their divine Leader.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 22.

“Shrouded in the pillar of cloud, the world’s Redeemer held communion with Israel. Let us not say, then, that they had not Christ. When the people thirsted in the wilderness, and gave themselves up to murmuring and complaint, Christ was to them what He is to us–a Saviour full of tender compassion, the Mediator between them and God. After we have done our part to cleanse the soul temple from the defilement of sin, Christ’s blood avails for us, as it did for ancient Israel.” –(The Youth’s Instructor, July 18, 1901) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1061.

4. What great miracle took place before their wondering eyes? What were God’s people able to do in this most singular experience in the history of the world?

Exodus 14:21, 22 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 

“Go Forward. ‘Go forward’ was the word given by God to give to the children of Israel as they stood before the Red Sea, hedged in by inaccessible mountains and pursued by Pharaoh. In obedience to the command they moved forward. Then the Lord worked for them. The waters of the sea parted and stood on one side of them like a mighty wall, leaving before them an open path. ‘And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground,’ and were safe. Exodus 14:22.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, p. 146.

“The waters rose up and stood, like congealed walls on either side, while Israel walked in the midst of the sea on dry ground.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 208, 209.

A path of faith and freedom

5. What was absolutely necessary for the people to venture forward on such a path? How would you feel if you were called to walk between high masses of water on your left and right? In whom did the people trust as they walked into the sea?

Hebrews 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. 

Psalm 106:8-10 Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known. 9 He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. 10 And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

“God in His providence brought the Hebrews into the mountain fastnesses before the sea, that He might manifest His power in their deliverance and signally humble the pride of their oppressors. He might have saved them in any other way, but He chose this method in order to test their faith and strengthen their trust in Him. The people were weary and terrified, yet if they had held back when Moses bade them advance, God would never have opened the path for them. It was ‘by faith’ that ‘they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land.’ Hebrews 11:29. In marching down to the very water, they showed that they believed the word of God as spoken by Moses. They did all that was in their power to do, and then the Mighty One of Israel divided the sea to make a path for their feet.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 290.

By faith received the baptism 

6. As what do the Scriptures represent this special experience of faith that Israel made together on that day?

1 Corinthians 10:1, 2 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

“… Their baptism in the sea was after their coming out of Egypt, and at their first entrance on their journey to Canaan’s land, as our baptism is, or should be, after a person is brought out of worse than Egyptian bondage and darkness, and has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and at the beginning of his profession of Him, and entrance on his Christian race. The descent of the Israelites into the sea, when they seemed as buried in the waters, and their ascent out of it again on the shore, has a very great agreement with baptism, as administered by immersion, in which the person baptized goes down into the water, is buried with Christ therein, and comes up out of it as out of a grave, or as the children of Israel out of the Red Sea; and as they, when they came out of it, could rejoice and sing in the view of their salvation and safety, and of the destruction of all their enemies, so the believer can, and does rejoice in this ordinance, in the view of his salvation by Christ, and safety in Him, and of all his sins being buried and drowned in the sea of His blood….” –John Gill’s Bible Commentary, comments on 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2.

Records for our benefit

7. What is registered in Biblical history for our benefit and for all who believe in God? The Lord gave them a way of escape through the sea, so what can we expect when we call on Him in difficult times?

Exodus 14:29-31 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.

Isaiah 51:10, 11 Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? 11 Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

“The great lesson here taught is for all time. Often the Christian life is beset by dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. The imagination pictures impending ruin before and bondage or death behind. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly, ‘Go forward.’ We should obey this command, even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness, and we feel the cold waves about our feet. The obstacles that hinder our progress will never disappear before a halting, doubting spirit. Those who defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainty disappears and there remains no risk of failure or defeat, will never obey at all. Unbelief whispers, ‘Let us wait till the obstructions are removed, and we can see our way clearly;’ but faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 290.

For reflection

  • If we see no solution to a difficulty, do we believe that the Lord can accomplish what seems impossible to us?
  • After the people suffered so many years of slavery, why did the Lord have them face such a tremendous test at the Red Sea?
  • When you are tested, do you recall the amazing miracle of Israel’s passing through the Red Sea between walls of water?

For further study

Psalm 66:6; 78:13; 136:11-14; Isaiah 41:9, 10, 13, 14; 63:12; 51:12, 15.

“Those who think it impossible for them to yield to the will of God and have faith in His promises until all is made clear and plain before them, will never yield at all. Faith is not certainty of knowledge; it ‘is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ Hebrews 11:1. To obey the commandments of God is the only way to obtain His favor. ‘Go forward’ should be the Christian’s watchword.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 38; Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 27.

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Missionary Report
from Belize

To be read on Sabbath, October 25, 2014

The Special Sabbath School Offering? will be gathered on Sabbath, November 1, 2014

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,…” Matthew 28:19.

The country of Belize with its capital Belmopan is located in the extreme northeast corner of Central America, but below and bordered on the north by Mexico and on the west and south by Guatemala. Colonization, slavery, and immigration have played important roles in making Belize a country with numerous cultures, languages, and ethnic groups. The official language is English, but large portions of the population, which numbered 356,600 in 2012, speak Spanish and an English Creole.

The reason English is the official language is that Belize is the only mainland country in Central America that was colonized by the British, a history which it shares with some Caribbean islands. In 1821, it became a territory of the legally sovereign state of the United Provinces of Central America. In 1836, the British claimed the right to administer the region, which was valued for mahogany forests. In 1862, Britain formally declared the territory to be a British Crown Colony and named it British Honduras. A difficult history followed, including the Great Depression in 1930, a devastating hurricane in 1931, and post-World War II economic pressures. In 1964, Britain granted British Honduras self-government, and the country was renamed Belize in 1973. However, there were still difficulties with Guatemala’s claim to sovereignty over the territory. While Britain gave Belize independence on September 21, 1981, it took until 1992 for Guatemala’s president to formally recognize the country’s independence.

Political and ethnic tensions among the population make it difficult to preach the gospel. According to the 2012 statistics, 40 percent of Belizeans are Catholic; 31.7 percent, Protestant (Pentecostal, 8.5 percent; Seventh-day Adventist, 5.5 percent; Anglican, 4.6 percent; Mennonite, 3.8 percent; Baptist, 3.6 percent; Methodist, 2.9 percent; and Nazarene, 2.8 percent); 1.7 percent, Jehovah’s Witnesses; 10.2 percent, other religions (Maya, Garifuna, Obeah, Myalism, and minorities of Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Baha’is, Rastafarians, and others), while 15.6 percent do not claim any religious affiliation.

The International Missionary Society entered Belize in 1987, with the visit of Brother Uldarico Alejos, a brother from Peru who was sent by the General Conference. In late 1990, the administration of the mission was taken over by the Central American Union, under the leadership of Pastor Pedro Ruiz Reyes, who periodically sent workers from Honduras and Guatemala to visit members and interested souls. These visits had good results, and the work was etablished in the small city of Punta Gorda, as well as in the Cayo and Belmopan regions; but financial problems forced the Central American Union to seek help from the General Conference, which sponsored a bilingual worker to work in Belize under the Foreign Missions Program but supervised by the Union.

Later the Union sent other workers from Guatemala to serve the country, but few knew any English. Therefore, the Union requested that the General Conference supply an English-speaking worker for the country. The request was granted, and Pastor Hildon Boguela, from Tanzania, worked in the field for about four years. During this time, the Union was responsible for paying for expenses, such as house rental assistance. However, in 2010, the Union was dissolved by vote of the delegates, and Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador each became separate fields under the General Conference, with the small field of Belize being under the supervision of the Guatemalan Field ever since.

Currently the church has two pieces of land, one in Punta Gorda and the other in Belmopan, where the current leader, Elder Rivera of Guatemala, lives with his wife and two children. We thank God for the work of this brother. One soul was baptized in 2013, and others followed; but we have no church buildings in Belize, so the plan is to construct a headquarters building that includes a chapel and parsonage. This will help greatly to meet the government’s guidelines, which require non-profits to either develop the land granted them or lose it. With scarce economic resources, four properties were lost over time, because we were unable to build anything on them; this has caused souls to become discouraged. But we thank God that He has opened doors and we were given other land under the condition that we build a primary school. The project has begun, but the high cost of living has hindered a rapid construction of the building, and now we fear that the government will cancel our permit and we will lose this property also.

With this explanation we appeal to our brothers and sisters around the world to help us with their prayers and offerings so we can complete the construction of the church, parsonage, and school. May God bless the family that is working in Belize and all the believers who give generously to support the work around the world and in Belize.

–Danilo Lopez Valdemar Monterroso, President, Guatemalan Field