Christian Activity Center

Caring for kids in East St. Louis…

Stories from Belize

Dominique and Ebony
“I will always remember how the kids were so happy to see us.” This is what Dominique Burnett, 17 will remember from the summer mission trip to Belize…not the gallons of paint she left on walls, not the hours spent replacing window panes, not the day spent taking kids who had never been to the pool, swimming, not even snorkeling in the Caribbean but the grace and welcome of children. This is what happens when those who have been served well are given the opportunity to serve.

Tierra Staten, 19, echoes Dominique, “I will always remember the children. I love them.” DeMondre Addison, 19, is most grateful for “new friends,” Ebony Lucas, 20, treasures her memories too; “Lamont” is her response when asked what she’ll remember. Lamont was one of the many children who found friendship and love in the CAC group.

When asked why he thinks we should go on mission trips, alum and summer missionary, Terrion Johnson, 21, says, “It’s good to help others in need and to show them that people do care. It’s always helpful to lend a hand and touch the heart of a kid.”

Tracy Windham, alum and summer missionary, 20, says, “By doing this it can change how we perceive a lot of things in life.” Tracy would know, she’s been a member of five different mission groups since 2004.

These are but a few of the examples of what you hear when you ask any of the twelve members of the CAC that ventured to the Sand Hill Baptist Camp in Belize, Central America. We spent our days painting, roofing, engaged in various construction projects and leading VBS for the group of kids that initially numbered fifty and counted over one hundred by the end of the week.

Anyone who’s participated in missions can affirm the adage that those who come to serve are often more blessed than those they came to serve. Our team was no different. To a person, they speak of the humbling experiences of seeing children so grateful for any hint of attention, any snack, no matter how modest.

Terrion was one of several who left shoes with children. He said it was as if “we’d left them a million dollars.” We’re not diluted into thinking that shoes or a week of encouragement and Bible stories will change a nation racked with systemic poverty and oppression; but we also know that God does math differently than we do. God sees a hillside full of hungry people and feeds with five fish, two loaves of bread. God needs twelve forgettable individuals to preach the Gospel. So maybe a group of twelve who love neglected children for a week will change things with God’s blessing. Tracy reminds us, “We can continue to help them in any way possible, but mostly with tangible things instead of just speaking the word to them.”

Christians who hear the word should follow the living Word into a world in need of love. When we do that we’re changed.