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BELIZE – A Foundation Problem

“While many things change, most things remain constant”

Belize is a small country nestled in the Caribbean Basin between Mexico and Guatemala. Rich in resources, Belize boasts the second the largest barrier reef in the world and is the home to one of the largest most fertile rain forest in Central America. Eco-tourism has flourished in the past few decades. Oil was discovered a few years ago in the western part of the country. However, in light of such wealth, Belize also boasts of poverty levels in 30-40% of the population according to Caribbean World Bank Development.

However, “While many things change most things remain constant.”  For example; In a world of buildings we have seen changes in types of homes. Just consider homes from past to present you will see the constant changes in space, design and shapes. However, no matter the constant changes to these structures one thing remains constant, the foundation. The need for a good foundation has never changed. Without it, these structures—no matter the external changes—will not stand for long. I believe the same principle is true for nations. As monumental shifts have occurred in this world due to the discovery of the internet, globalization, migration and new inventions, certain things remain the same, specifically the absolute need for an unchangeable foundation based on the absolute truth about mankind. Here are a few foundational problems I thought about on my recent visit to Belize.

Health of Families

As I traveled across the country for six days I came across a constant call to help in the area of marriage. I found myself spending hours with couples who were in trouble in their marriage. The complete inability to deal with conflicts, generational offenses, and just the rampant need for relational principles at a basic level is evident. A nation is strong when the family is strong. When families begin to disintegrate the negative impact is massive. One of the issue is the vacuum it creates among children that leaves them open to street gangs who provide that need for some sort of family structure. Belize has seen a tremendous rise in gangs and gang violence. Today it ranks the third highest national murder rate in the world. The majority of the homicide take place in Belize City where gang violence is rampant. This is a direct result of the complete breakdown of the family, especially in Belize City. 

Lack of Male Leadership

Northwood Church is very invested in Belize and our approach to mission is through the domains of society, especially through the education domain. We have developed relationships with those at the highest level in education. One such female leader was asking me to help them in the area of motivating male leadership in this domain. This particular leader is the director of the largest school district in Belize. She told me that out of 176 schools she only has 2 male principals. There has been a complete exodus of males from leadership in the education domain. Male leadership is foundational to the health of a family, church, nation. The question is why are they absent in the education domain and how can reverse that trend?

Lack of Servant Leaders in Government

Another area is the lack of Servant leaders. The entire system from the top to the bottom and across all domains of society is built upon leadership by power and manipulation. The desire to take for themselves as much as possible before they are relieved from their position develops a winner-take-all attitude. If you ask children in Belize the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the answer is usually two-fold, an immigration officer or a government position. They understand that to have anything beyond just barely surviving these two vocations afford you the possibility to make more money through stealing and bribes. An entirely different leadership foundation is needed or these patterns will continue to perpetuate themselves through every generation of leadership.

While many things are changing in this world, many remain the same. Without healthy families, male leadership and a philosophy of servant leadership within the fabric of a society, a nation will have a very weak foundation. It will not able to withstand the whirlwind of change and the house it is built on will eventually fall. It does not matter how great the external structure is the foundation dictates the future of that house.

JOURNALING

THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE THAT CREATES DEPTH

To journal you don’t need to be a good writer.  You just need to be still and quiet and write.  You aren’t writing for publication or for your English teacher.   I would not write a journal for anyone but myself.  It’s not history, it’s how you see life, what you are learning, questions you have, and anything you want to write about.  Mother Teresa, Henri Nouwen, and others have used journaling and it was key to their spiritual development.  Some of the things they wrote about included personal struggles, frustrations, and even deep questions about God.  Some people freaked out over that – I didn’t.  We all have those questions and I believe it’s in the slow wrestling of those questions that we find truth, meaning, life and, yes, God.  There is NOTHING that has grown me spiritually, emotionally, and relationally – even globally, like journaling.  Yet, it’s not journaling – it’s reflecting, remembering, discovering patterns, recording events that were good and bad, and writing down the things God spoke to you about in the middle of the night.  If you’ve read my blog you know that around November to December every year I write about journaling.  I’m serious about it.  There is no greater or formative discipline that intersects all the disciplines and all of life like journaling.  It’s not a diary – it’s reflections.  I define a journal as “a catalogue of reflections of what God is doing and saying in your life.”

I believe the book of Acts is how God intends for us to walk with him, learn, grow, and experience life.  Having read Acts many times, studying it, preaching it – I’m convinced the biggest message of Acts is the unexpected.  The Holy Spirit orchestrates everything from relationships, timing, schedule – and none of it comes through orchestrated action plans, goals, systems, and processes.  That doesn’t mean those things don’t matter – just that they aren’t primary.  I know this, the greatest things in my life that God has done, has had little to do with how I organize but rather how I hear God’s voice or recognize him moving in unexpected circumstances or people.  At the moment at which things are taking place I don’t always recognize their significance – but as I journal and see things develop there really is a pattern.

Each year I start a new journal.  It has what I learned from the previous year, it has words people give me, verses burned in my heart, goals, people I work with, people I’m praying for, models, tons of stuff – about 30 pages worth, then daily and early in the morning I write.

THUS, this is why I’m promoting the book “Journaling:  Catalyzing Spiritual Growth through Reflection” by Adam Feldman.  It is simply the best book I’ve ever read on how to journal.  I would encourage you to buy it, read it, and use it to begin.  Your own style and preferences will takeover, but it will be a fantastic guide to start with.  You can read more about his view of journaling at AdamLFeldman.com –   I loved the book and was excited when it came out.

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