February 2 through March 9, 1998 I was in Corozal, Belize with six other preachers working with Jesse Hightower preaching the Gospel. I had never been outside the United States, so I was looking forward to seeing many things.
However, I did not see in Belize what most folks see. I did not see the largest Mayan ruin in Central America, just a short drive from where I was. I did not see the Blue Hole, a large collapsed underwater cave teeming with tropical aquatic sea life. I did not see the cayes or the second largest barrier reef in the world. I did not see any white sand beaches, manta rays or swing in a hammock under a royal palm. But, what I did see was more memorable than anything I could have seen on a guided tour of the whole nation.
During Keith Camp's six weeks there, he made it is personal mission to overthrow the LDS Church. Everywhere he could meet a Mormon he would. By trip's end he had studied with most of the active Mormons including the local leaders and the "elders." Two Mormons were converted and studies continue with several. Keith's presence was so strong that the LDS have agreed to debate him next year.
Why was Keith so powerful and successful? His strength was the Word. Patiently and methodically, Keith showed a few simple but glaring contradictions between the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. In thirty minutes Keith can destroy whatever confidence an honest man may have in the Book of Mormon and renew his faith in the Bible alone.
I saw the strength of faith (Matthew 17:20, 21). Antonio Mayora and Emelia Penida were the two Mormons converted. Their story is at once heartbreaking and joyful. These two new Christians were not only in a religious cult but also living in adultery.
After several studies, Antonio decided he needed to move out of the house with Emelia and their four children. By Thursday both were baptized into Christ. Now, he works daily making tamales and selling hot-dogs on the street. He still cares for Emelia and the children and spends his afternoons going with Jesse to translate in the Bible studies. Yes, the faith of the mustard seed!
On my last night in Corozal I baptized two beautiful young people, Jorge Gonzales and Marilyn Williams. I met them during the second week. They were eager to learn and started studying in the afternoons with me. It was not long before I learned this couple was also living in fornication.
I met the problem head-on with what the Bible says about this sin. They received the truth gravely. I told them to think about it. Two days later, Jorge came to me with some questions about repentance. He knew he could not be baptized if they did not stop their sin. I encouraged him to marry immediately since that is what they were planning to do any way. The devil tried to hinder him with concerns about ceremonies and rings and license fees. I encouraged him by assuring him if Marilyn truly was in love and wanted to do right, a big wedding and a ring did not matter. As far as the fee was concerned, that was my wedding present to them. Tears welled up in his eyes. He left. I feared I would never see him again.
Yet, on Friday night, there they were—smiling with license application in hand. After a brief study to answer a few more questions for Marilyn about her Methodist baptism, we went to the ocean. By the time you read this they will husband and wife.
Jesus Mossiah came early in the meeting. He is from the village of Calcutta, the center of the Adventist movement in Corozal District. There they have a secondary school and a very large congregation. Jesus was an Adventist, as was his father and most of his friends.
I studied with Jesus the first week. I have never seen such a mule-headed fellow in all my life. He resisted everything I showed him. He struggled to the point of just turning to unrelated passages, reading them and giving me a "Well, what about that?"
The second week I was busy studying for the debate at night. Keith Sharp took over the studies with Jesus. We were all about tired of him. On Thursday Keith determined to go through Galatians 3 and press him on justification by faith, a matter most SDA are thoroughly confused about. That afternoon, Jesus confessed Christ and was baptized.
Later that day I asked him if he had told his father about his decision. He said, "Not yet, but I now I must." That night he was back with news that we were to be at his house on Saturday to study with his family and two SDA preachers.
Nine times in three weeks we went to the waters of the Caribbean. Nine times I witnessed joyful souls make the good confession and be immersed into Jesus. Nine times I welcomed my brothers and sisters into the Kingdom of Heaven.
I marvel at how simple it is to show what the Lord said. I am thrilled at how readily it was accepted. It was uplifting to renew my faith that the obstacle before people is not in the message, or the difficulty of the command, or the inadequacies of the messenger. It is, as always, in their hearts.
It was a wonderful trip. I will remember it for a long time. I have tender feelings for my new brethren. I want to go again and "see how they do."
Yes, I saw great things in that little Caribbean village on the Sea.