Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Haven... an update

Last night was our first night back at The Haven since the holidays.  Tom is finishing up his teaching on The Family as a System.  We had a time of worship.  Tom gave a short lesson to the kids which involved a lively discussion and demonstration of upsetting the balance of a family of coconuts.  After the children were dismissed to their class we gave a short break for snacks and then moved into the group discussion time.

Each time we meet we read the rules for the group and rule number four is about safety and says:
Remember that each of us are responsible for building trust and safety.  Who attends The Haven or what is shared in our small group is confidential, and this information needs to stay within the walls of The Haven.  Do not share what others have discussed, without their permission; even if it is in the form of a 'prayer request'.  This is how we maintain safety.

And yet we noticed that it was hard for people to share in the small groups.

Over the holiday break I had a brief conversation with a pastor's wife in the area.  After I described our work to her I learned that what we are doing is desperately needed but that people here have a hard time trusting that what they share in private will be kept confidential.

"People here dey ben burn. Erryone dey gossip" she told me.

This is a small town.  Every knows everyone.  Everyone thinks they know everything about everybody.

And the gossip flies at lightening speed over the coconut wire.

We decided to make a few changes to our format to see if that would help to loosen people up, break the ice and make them feel more comfortable.  The short refreshment time after Tom's message was had worked beautifully in Russia and we thought it would help here. It had people laughing and gave them a brief time to fellowship with one another.  The other change was discussion questions.  Tom wrote up two simple questions that went along with the topic.  Instead of one or two people sharing we actually had 6 people open up to the group of 18.  A victory!

It is hard to share personal things in a small town. Churches are not always safe places to be real.  This principle is universal.  We may feel we are betraying our family or loved one by sharing our own hurts or feelings. We don't want to put someone else in a bad light.  We must keep our 'I'm fine' face on.

Tom and I have had a few counseling appointments and several get together's and meals since we arrived with a young couple who have been married for less than a year.  This week was the first time that they went beyond surface talk and finally poured out their hearts.  The husband said they had discussed it and agreed that we were trustworthy.

Our prayer is that we will continue to build trust and teach principles which well help others grow and become who they were designed to be.  Our desire is to remain open to learning more about the culture through talking to our neighbors, vendors in the market and people that we meet around town.  We will continue to ask questions and stay interested in the Belizean way of life so that we can provide safety and love, a Haven if you will,  for all who come our way.

Please join with us in prayer.


  1. It sounds like you do very wonderful, interesting work! Are you with an organization or ministry? What you said about being afraid to be real in Church is so true. And then when you *are* real, people can't handle it. :( And then wonder why you don't go to church anymore. I have had my best and biggest spiritual breakthroughs within relationship and safety. It's amazing how much you can flourish and heal when you feel safe. What a sad testament that people do not equate church with relationship and safety.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. We are with a small mission agency out of North Carolina called DBR. So far we are their only missionaries in the field. They do work with 12 Steps and have some recovery homes in their area.

    You are so right... it is sad that people cannot equate church with relationship and safety. Praying this changes in time.

  3. God Bless your efforts to make inroads, to break through barriers of trust, to beat back gossip, and try become part of the community you want to serve. It all sounds very first century. I have prayed.

    God Bless and Keep you and all of yours

  4. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers, Craig. We truly value your words and prayers for this ministry.

  5. Small world! I live in NC. Is that where you are from? I remember going to Belize on a mission trip many years ago. We went to one of the keys (or is it spelled Cay?). Beautiful country, but we were only there for a few days so I don't remember a whole lot about it.

    I heart missionaries! What you are doing is a unique way to serve, and I'm sure much needed!

  6. small world indeed!! You saw a part of this country we haven't visited yet! No, this summer was our first visit to NC we are from California.

    Thank you for your encouraging words. We are grateful that the church we are working with now and the one we worked with in Russia are open to learning about recovery and that it is not just for addicts and alcoholics but for their families and people affected by them as well.

  7. I'm sure that the more you show that you're trustworthy, the more they will open up. I'll be praying for you guys!

  8. We have a small group too. Seemingly, all it takes is a couple of folks to share how God scooped them up from their sin and then try to stop people from sharing! Women especially really do identify with other women through their stories dont you think? Really enjoyed reading today!

  9. Thanks for your prayers Missy!

    Kelli, we found that to be true in the states where everyone is somewhat familiar with small groups. And in Russia my women had no problems sharing at the first meeting. But, here it is a very new concept. So it may take a while longer. Shyness along with trust issues stand in the way.

    But we are here for the long haul!!

  10. What a wonderful and MUCH needed ministry! Thank you for your service. I am so happy to have found your blog and about the work that you are doing down there. You will be in my prayers. Blessings! Candace

  11. Thank you so much Candace!