After a night in Belize City, you spend 3 ½ hours on the road down to the village of Seine Bight. It is on the Placencia Peninsula where you see the Belize that is outside the view of the tourists.
The Belizean population in approximate numbers are 50% Mestizos, 25% Creole, 10% Mayan and 6 % Garifuna. The populace of this area is different than other areas of Belize. The Garifuna people make up only 6% of the population of Belize, but they represent 70% of the people in the Stann Creek District, where Seine Bight is located. This is only area where the Garifuna (black Caribs, a blend of 3 peoples – the Caribs, South American Indians and West Africans) are in the majority of the population. Prevalent among the Garifuna is the practice of Animism as well as ancestor worship.
While many, if not most will profess a belief in Christianity, this infusion of the old beliefs and customs taint their faith and still has a strong hold on the older generation. There does seem to be a turning away from this by some of the younger ones.
Upon arrival in Seine Bight (a.k.a. the village) we stopped and spent an hour walking around and taking opportunities to invite folks to Bible studies and other events as well as praying for the people or town in general. Seine Bight is all of perhaps 3 full city blocks in length by 2 blocks in width. There are many living outside this main block of the village, but this is where most are. This is when I began to see God’s call to us for these people. Many from our group already had relationships with some of the people here. By the end of the first week and even more so by the end of my return week, these “brothers and sisters from another mother” were better understood as brothers and sisters of the same heavenly Father.
We were welcomed by many, ignored by some, looked at suspiciously by a few, but received with open arms by those whose hearts God was already working on and preparing to hear His Word and serve His people. The children in particular welcomed us with a love reminiscent of their coming to Jesus when he said in Matt. 19:14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” The kids came from everywhere. It would not make sense to most who have never seen this kind of environment. When a two year old, being watched by a 3 year old child are walking safely alone across town from their home, you wonder what we have become in the states where we hesitate to let kids ride down the street on their bikes alone anymore.
As with our life in the states, the children of Seine Bight are where the future lies. They wanted to be carried, given piggyback rides and held. They do not get a lot of personal physical attention once they can walk in their in their culture. Some of the young ladies in our groups spent most of the week just holding children. This was a classic example of “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” While we did a good deal of painting houses (and a bus stop), building steps and verandas (basically a small porch) and various other physical tasks, the attention given to the children will be something that makes a vital impact on their lives that is strengthened every time we come down.
While there are many adults I will be praying for regularly from the village, these children hold an even more precious place in my heart. They are God’s plan for Seine Bight. We are very blessed to be a part of it.