Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Close to my Heart

Belize, Central America was devastated early Sunday morning by Tropical Storm Arthur. This was the storm that developed from the remnants of Tropical Storm Alma, which hit Nicaragua on the Pacific Coast earlier in the week. Most Belize residents are reporting that this is the first time they have seen such a devastating storm in their lifetime, including the occurrence of tornadoes. Over 12 inches of rain fell across the country, swelling rivers out of their banks. Most of the major roads and bridges are totally destroyed, which has made it impossible to get to the hardest-hit areas by land. The banana, citrus and shrimp industries have been destroyed. The oil industry is shut down because access to the deep water port at Independence Village has been cut off.

Sadly, Gales Point, the village of our dear friend, Pastor Lloyd Welch, was also almost totally destroyed. This place is very dear and precious to me and the teams that have traveled to Belize with us over the years. I have done missions work there for years, and have many other friends there.

The nephew of Baptist pastor Chester Ritchie watched helplessly as the flood waters swept away his wife, his 14-year old daughter and 11 year-old son. Their lifeless bodies were discovered hours later. Other lives have been lost, and several bodies have yet to be recovered.

Parts of Belize were greatly affected by a hurricane just last year. Emergency calls are going out for food, water, clothing and medicine. If I can raise the support, we can bring a team there immediately to assist.

Please pray for Belize, Pastor Welch, and the massive relief effort that is already underway. If you want to help tangibly, we will be sure to direct it to the heart of the need. Communication is difficult, but I will keep you posted as more information is made available.

These were taken at Gales Point, the peninsula mentioned above, that is without a doubt one of my most favorite places in the world. I have found enough peace, humility, and clarity on that small strip of peninsula to last me a lifetime.

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