Dale Graves’ first trip to Belize was with a Friends United Meeting (FUM) short term work project. They were working at LaDemocracia, under the care of Mike and Kay Cain, building an addition onto a garage. Since that time Dale has become more involved and is currently the FUM representative on the board of the Belize Friends School. He attends 2 of the 3 board meetings each year by Skype or conference call and the third meeting in person. This gives him the chance to make Belizean friends and to begin, just begin mind you, to understand some of the issues in the area where the school is located. During these visits he stayed in the home of Sam and Becky Barber and listened at length to their perspective.
The Friends School serves students who did not pass the entrance exam into high school. Students are given a second chance and then allowed to retake the test. However, recent conversations have centered on what other work God is calling us to do. Can Friends serve Belize in ways we have not yet thought of? What could a Friends presence in Belize look like? Are there Belizeans who would find the Friends message of Christ as present teacher and guide a welcome one? What can be done about poverty and gang violence on the South Side of Belize City? Do the churches on the South Side of Belize City work together, or could they? And a myriad of other questions that beg for answers.
Dale was approached by Eden Grace and Colin Saxton to serve in Belize for a year, oversee the current school and investigate the possibilities of an expanded Friends Ministry in Belize. Following a meeting with a clearness committee of Friends in Western Yearly Meeting, Dale felt clear to proceed.
Dale’s one year ministry in Belize begins August 2014. Please pray for Dale as he strives to follow through on the goals set before him for this year:
• To conduct an in-depth community needs assessment
• To network with those already ministering in the community
• To discover how Friends can make a unique contribution to what God is already doing in Belize City
• To plan a program for a holistic Belize Friends Mission that addresses the unmet needs of the south side neighborhood in Belize City