by PH Staff
Belize! Where is Belize? Most people don't know. But for Pastor Ernest Tate it's both home and the place where God has blessed and used him for more than 27 years.
Belize is the former British Honduras (the name was changed in 1973 and independence from England came in 1981). It is located on the eastern or Caribbean coast of Central America, bounded on the north and part of the west by Mexico, and on the south and the remainder of the west by Guatemala.
Ernest Tate was born in Belize to a large family; there were nine children and, like most families in Belize, they were very poor. Ernest left home as a young teenager to find work. The pivotal point in his life came when he ended up at Belize Faith Missions (BFM) at age 19. He had never heard the gospel, nor did he know there was a God who loved him. After one month at BFM he invited the Lord Jesus into his heart to be his personal Lord and Savior. It was a life-changing day.
Thurman and Reba Millhollon founded Belize Faith Missions in 1958, in Ontario, Calif., to minister to the physical, spiritual, social, and mental needs of the people. Today the mission operates a campus that consists of the Village Church, a Christian school, and a children's home.
After Ernest became a believer, he was asked to temporarily fill in as a teacher. That temporary position has lasted for more than 27 years and today he is Pastor Tate.
When he talks about BFM his eyes fill with tears: "Here I have found the place I belong." With a heartfelt passion for what God can do through the willing, he has seen hundreds of families find hope for both temporal concerns and spiritual needs.
The Millhollons founded BFM on Scripture-based principles of what it means to be a Christian and a part of a family of believers. These biblical principles are very visible in all areas of the ministry's work today. "Excellence Glorifies God" is the mission's motto.
Today, many of those who once lived without hope have found purpose for life and are empowered by God's grace to live meaningful lives. They have been taught to base their work, education, and Christian living on biblical principles. What they have learned has helped them better their lives, support their families, and contribute to their communities. Many who were once ministered to are now ministering.
Following Thurman Millhollon's death in a car accident in Mexico in 1981, Reba continued the work for the next 20 years, until her death in 2001, at age 80-concluding 42-1/2 years as a missionary. Two years before, at age 78, she was honored by the 700 Club TV ministry as "the longest-serving active missionary ever."
While the founders of the mission are in heaven now, the work they started continues and is on the threshold of even greater opportunities. Led by Pastor Tate in Belize and by the Millhollon's son, Newman, who is director of BFM in California, the ministry is implementing a plan to evangelize Belize and surrounding nations of Central America and the Caribbean.
"God is preparing us for such a time as this," says Newman. "Belize Faith Missions is dedicated to leading the way for the emerging church in Central America that is facing a complex reality of the hopeless and lost in their world. Our strategic plan is to:
1. Equip nationals for key areas of ministry.
2. Develop a network of trainers and training resources for the advancement of leadership.
3. Promote stewardship training and education for ministry leaders.
4. Cultivate fellowship and partnership between ministries.
"We can touch lives like never before. Isn't touching lives what its all about?" For more information visit www.bzfaith.org or contact the mission via email at email@example.com.