By Frank and Wendy Parrish
with Keith Balser
As the plane descended into Belize City, the emerald blue water and the lush tropical landscape inspired visions of Paradise. But such misty notions quickly evaporated as we stepped onto the tarmac into a blast of sauna-like heat and thick humidity!
Our wilted spirits lifted as we walked toward our rented Land Cruiser, in which we’d make the 2-hour journey to San Ignancio. We climbed inside the vehicle, only to discover that almost everything in it was either broken or missing. The odometer read 178,000 miles, but had long ago stopped turning. We had two seatbelts for six people. The shocks were so worn, it was like riding on cast-iron tires. But we found reason for thanksgiving when the air-conditioner at least puffed out a bit of cool air!
None of these challenges, however, quelled our enthusiasm for what we knew God would do when we gathered in Jesus Name, to lift Him up and declare His Word! And in that, we were not disappointed.
Signals Of Grace
We were privileged to join with Triumph In Christ Ministries International on their strong Belize ministry team, which also included the pastor and worship team from The Sanctuary church in Santa Clarita, California.
The goal of “Signals Of Grace Leadership And Family Conference” was to provide sound leadership training and to lay the groundwork for a cohesive Christian movement in that remote part of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Church leaders from various faiths and denominations attended, a positive step for the division-prone church in the tiny New Hampshire-size nation. Such unusual unity was “historic” according to one pastor, and was certainly an answer to prayer.
This Was Different
Other groups had tried to conduct meetings in San Ignacio in recent years, but the local pastors would rarely participate – and sometimes very few of their congregants. They had been disappointed by outside organizations who would come with a preset agenda, having already decided what they would do and what the people needed.
What made the difference this time?
One of the key factors in the success of last Fall’s conference was that some of the team had traveled to Belize several months earlier, and met with the local pastors for prayer. They discussed with them their needs, as well as those of the people of their churches and city.
We also involved the local pastors in the planning and execution of the event, as well as in the interpreting and other responsibilities in the conference. This allowed them to take ownership of the conference, as well as learn how to organize this kind of event.
And, most importantly, there was “intense and immense” prayer that preceded and covered the conference. Intercession came from the ministry team, the World MAP Prayer Corps, the local pastors and congregations in San Ignacio, and other churches and prayer support groups.
A New Vision
To promote unity, the conference was held in a neutral meeting place rather than in a particular church. In addition, the Saturday meetings included morning sessions and a barbecue under a huge tent on an outlying property. These venues provided a comfortable place for pastors and their families to come together for genuine fellowship and to forge a unified commitment to evangelize and disciple their nation.