A storm of memes, jokes, and videos, and overall nonsense that came following that comment right? While we choose to stay out of that drama, we are adamant and certain that Belize has abundant talent and excellent leaders and it needs for them to incite change in this country.
In our previous story, we talked a little about how we wanted to highlight some Christian leaders throughout our country to include in our productions and summer curriculum. We want to show how they use the platform God has given them, and how they are exemplar men and women in their respective fields, but also keen on using their gifts and talents on representing Christ here on earth. So, as we took time to interview, we listened to their story of how they represent God as they work.
My personal favorite interview was with General Ortega. He is the commander of the entire Belize Defense Force. A soldier for most of his life, and an accomplished one at that. His office glistens with the medals, awards, and diplomas and he has a story to tell about each one. He nonchalantly tells us stories of how the queen of England requested his enrollment in the best war college the country has to offer.
As part of the interview, we ask him if his job includes ordering men around all day. He declines vehemently. He insists that his job is being an example-much like Jesus- to the soldiers placed under his care by saying and acting in a manner that befits his charge. Maybe I have watched too many war movies where the general yells in a gruff voice to his soldiers right before they charge straight in the final battle. Someone like General Goerge Patton, who would yell at his men all sorts of profanities mixed in together with his inspirational final speech. But General Ortega showed me a different type of military leader. I am sure when the time comes, he will be the stern and upright leader he needs to be. But in the meantime, as he strolls about the barracks, he greets each of his soldiers by their last name. I was deeply impressed by this gesture. He also takes time to make small talk with me as we stood on the sidewalk and at no moment feel intimidated by him. This reminded me of Jesus. Despite him being the son of God, He still had a heart for the ‘little guy,’ all of us. If ever I will have a leadership position I will look to his mannerisms as the optimum way of treating others.
Next, we met with Sheldon Krahn an Emergency Medical Technician in Blue creek. He parked his truck along with a horse trailer at the back and rushed over from his ranch to show us around the ambulance he works in. Ever since he was a child, he dreamed of being in that ambulance and saving lives. And few people get to live out their childhood dream job, but Sheldon did by working hard and focused on pursuing his goal. With people’s life on the line, Sheldon loves his work and takes it seriously. He told us that he prays every time he gets an emergency call. He is constantly learning new methods in his fields.
At the end of our conversation, he gave us all a sober reminder. He insists he can save many lives physically, but only God can truly save men spiritually. Here is a man who is exposed every day to the notion of life and death and the harsh realities of it, and yet He can be certain there is someone who can ultimately save us. To some, he might be easily identified as a hero who saves lives, but he insists only Jesus through his sacrifice on the cross became our true savior.
Mr. Mark Velasquez is a sheep farmer who lives out on the outskirts of Ladyville. He has been a farmer for 35 years and during those many years of farming, he has learned so much about sheep and their behavior. He knows exactly why the Bible compares us so many times to sheep and explained to us the comparisons. The sheep indeed listens to the voice of the shepherd, he says. If anyone else was to try and feed his sheep, they wouldn’t come, he told us.
He also explained the analogy of the goats and the sheep as he held a newborn lamb in his hands. “A goat would never stay as still as this” he explained and as he pets the lamb gently on his head. It would be kicking and fighting all along he told us. Suddenly all those analogies made a little more sense. It is easy to google and find out for yourself exactly what is meant by these comparisons in the bible, but different when a farmer shows and plays it out in front of you.
Mark loves his animals. He loves seeing them be born, grow and live their lives. He insists he is not a shepherd, since shepherds live with the animals, but he was still able to show a little of what it means to be a shepherd and why we need a good shepherd in our lives.
On his farm he has a horse that acts as a shepherd to sheep, The horse rounds them up, protects them, and cares for them. A horse is an unlikely shepherd but this taught me that it doesn’t matter who you are and what you were designed for (I have never heard a breed of ‘shepherd horse’, also seen on the banner), you can still care for others. Psalm 23 suddenly made so much sense as Mark gave us enough reasons to see Jesus as our shepherd and not be fighting and kicking around like goats.
Mr. Darrell Bradley is a lawyer and a teacher. He has been practicing law for 14 years. Mr. Bradley is a person of faith and holds to the idea that God himself is a lawyer. He explains that when we look at the idea of the 10 commandments and the concept of a covenant it looks similar to what we have today in our current society in terms of contracts and our constitution. It is one thing to look and think of the constitution as something similar to the ten commandments- that might be easy to deduce. However, when an actual lawyer says that is also true, it carries a different weight. Confirmation bias? Maybe. But what Mr. Bradley said next really blew my mind. He claimed that all relationships are a ‘legal relationship’. That we all operate under interests and spoken or unspoken clauses and stipulations, even with God. That might take some time for us to ponder on, but the next time you get yelled at for not doing something you agreed to do, you might say “Mr. Bradley is a wise man, how can I end this legal relationship?”
Our lesson and reason for the interview were to have Mr. Bradley explain to us from a legal perspective what it meant for Jesus to take our punishment by dying on the cross for us. I have to quote him for this one, He explained “It has been often said, but taken for granted. But one of the things about the law is that the law always requires punishment or consequences. If you have a human being and people in the creation and those people commit a wrong the law will require justice. Somebody has to stand in the fray for that. Somebody would have to go to jail for that. Somebody would be punished. So, to say Jesus took our punishment and took our burden is something that really is an amazing thing. A tremendous sacrifice that we are indebted to him for. That he would stand in lieu of us for the punishment. And take the significant burden from us…” Not much left for me to say but that Mr. Bradley is a wise man indeed. And wisdom comes from the fear of the lord, according to the Bible. May we all strive to be wise likewise then.
Ms. Esther Babaloa has been a school counselor for 7 years. When she was little, she wanted to be a teacher. But through her experience of being a high school peer helper, she got to love the idea of helping others figure out their emotional problems. Ms. Babaloa loves talking to people and helping people. She defines her work as a counselor as someone you talk to and helps you figure things out. When she is in session with her students, she strives for her students to look at the problem before them through different perspectives. She wants her students to know and identify their feelings and look at the problem through a different scope. And she says when we have a world that knows how they feel and know how to react to the world, we have a good world. If we can be at peace within ourselves, we can be at peace with others she claims. She also says the bible is a good guide that teaches us what we need to do to be at peace with others. She doesn’t separate it from her work. So, she uses whatever the word or the holy spirit speaks to her, she also applies it daily. If we all look at the problems like Esther incites to her students through different perspectives, we would indeed live in a good world. Just look at the world today: one big ball of misunderstood people. If we could all be humble enough to say, “I’ll think about what my adversary is feeling and why he is angry with me” wouldn’t we stop a lot of evil in the world? Wouldn’t that bring so much peace? Too bad that as Christians we are forced to do this because our greatest counselor told us so. And we must not separate his advice from our life and work too like Esther insists it should be.
What does a lawyer, general, sheep farmer, school counselor, and E.M.T have in common? (Besides sounding like the beginning of a bad joke.) They all love God, His work, and their work. And no you don’t have to have fancy degrees and be making deep philosophical claims like some of these guys. Be yourself, but not in the cliché way the world tells you. In the way, God wants to use you to be a change in this country. To be the salt of the earth and bring a different flavor to life as these guys do. So wherever you are, whatever you do, be a part of Belize changing Belize. And yes Belize has all the talent it needs for this to be done.