Kentucky Pastor Describes Ministry in Belize

May 01, 2012

Hello Dear Friends of the Kentucky Annual Conference!

Lisa and I have settled in well with the Methodist Church of the Caribbean in Belize. It is hard to believe we have been in this appointment for almost a year. 

It is a joy to serve with the Ebenezer Circuit. Rev. Papouloute, who is the President (Bishop) of the district, has five churches in his circuit. I am helping to alleviate some of his preaching schedule. Most of my time is spent with a village called Burrell Boom. 

The worship service is much more formal than what I am familiar with. The photo shows me in the white cassock which was a gift to me from the Wilmore UMC. It is very hot to say the least! I am also trying to get used to the clergy collar. Some of my peers in the Kentucky Conference have made jokes about the collar, but it has opened many doors for ministry with the people of Belize.

Holy Week and Easter was a wonderful experience. Belizians take it very seriously.  Businesses shut down for “Holy Friday,” and the school system shuts down for two weeks the week before and after Easter! It is a busy time for clergy. I preached or otherwise participated in 6 worship services starting on Maundy Thursday and through the Easter weekend. 

I am also a trainer for the equivalent of Safe Sanctuaries in Belize. We are starting from scratch, so it has been enjoyable being in the planning and training as well. Thank you Julie Hager Love for your help in that area!

Lisa is working with the Volunteer in Ministry mission teams coming from the states. The missionary from The Methodist Church in England, Sister Maggie Patchett, is the main coordinator. She is in England for several weeks for furlough, so Lisa is taking up the slack. The Methodist Church in Belmopan is building a new high school, and much work is going towards completing the school. The country of Belize depends upon the churches for educating the Belizian children. The Methodist Church has more students than any other denomination. The Burrell Boom Methodist School alone has over 300 children. The government pays the teachers’ salarie, but the churches are responsible for providing the schools. The high school in Belmopan will provide much needed space for the students. It is proving to be enjoyable work for Lisa.

Lisa Williams helps with a dental team from the U.S. at Burrell Boom.

Lisa has also been an advocate for a couple of children who need medical care. She has been active in raising funds to provide help for young child named Sanito, who has a rare form of cancer. He has been receiving chemotherapy for the last year, traveling to Merida, Mexico to receive the treatments. On a side note, Sanito and his dad, Santiago, in one of their last visits were actually hit by a fast moving car. Sanito had a serious head wound and Santiago was bruised up pretty badly, but they are okay now.

We have been grateful for all the friends and family who have provided much help for these two families. Sanito’s cancer is hopefully in remission as he just discontinued the chemotherapy. The little baby, who had surgery on his eyes, will be able to see some but is going to struggle.

The experiences of ministry have been life changing for us, and we would love to share this country with any VIM teams from Kentucky. Let us know if you have a group interested in coming. We have put together arrangements for food and housing that are very comfortable and affordable for teams to come work on the high school.

We are grateful to all who are lifting us up in prayer. There are times life is gets a little complicated living in a developing country, but prayer has pulled us through.

We are also grateful for all who have helped financially for us to serve. Although we are mainly self funded, the money that has come from donors has helped us in our ministry and travel expenses and work done on the parsonage in Burrell Boom.
If you would like make a contribution to help support our ministry there are four options:
1. Write a check that will go through the Board of Global Ministries of the U.M. Church. Payable to ADVANCE GCFA (General Council of Finance Administration). In the memo line write: Advance #982465 James and Lisa Williams. All volunteer missionaries use this same number so it must be designated specifically to our work in Belize by using our names.

Mail check to:
Advance GCFA
P.O. Box 9068, GPO
New York, NY 10087-9068

2. By Phone: Credit card gifts can be accepted by phone. The telephone number is: (888) 252-6174.

3. Donate online by going to The Advance page of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church and use Project # 982465:
Scroll down to our names James and Lisa Williams to proceed.

4. Give through any United Methodist Church using the Advance #982465 AND our names, James and Lisa Williams. Make sure your church treasurer understands this process.

Jamie and Lisa Williams’ Website

Work on a high school being built by the Methodist Church in Belmopan

Rev. Jamie Williams, right, and Rev. Papouloute, left, with family of child Rev. Williams baptized