“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.””
God will restore his creation to perfection. He will again dwell among us. The redemption and restoration is what the entire Bible is about. Many of us will never, ever understand what that looks like until the Lord puts the “final” plan in motion. We wont know until we are there dwelling in the new heaven and new earth.
This January I saw where God is starting that….in Caledonia, Corozal District Belize Central America.
Caledonia is a village that is situation in Northern Belize and like most northern Belizean villages sits amongst the reeds of sugar cane. Unassuming, quaint and quiet.
In Caledonia, food is scarce; jobs are few and life is hard.
But the thing about Caledonia and specifically the church in Caledonia and their leader is that Hope is not lost. The Lord is beginning to redeem Caledonia for His Glory. They are the meeting point of the New Heaven and New Earth.
From the first meeting, we had with Pastor Rosaura, or the general as we affectionately call her, we knew it was a special partnership. She wept across the table from Rob and Pastor Ed and said “Brothers, I believe the Lord has forgotten about Caledonia.” They responded “well that is why we are here…to tell you that the Lord has not forgotten about you.”
From that moment on, we have been blessed watching this woman model leadership through humility, sacrifice, and love. She fasts every Wednesday, walks the streets of her village at night anointing the streets and bars with oil proclaiming that Satan and his demons have no authority to chain her people to drugs and alcohol, and quietly leads an army of people determined to revolutionize their village. She receives respect but NOT because she demands it but because people see the Lord in her. The church started off small, women primarily. However, I can attest that it has GROWN. Men are stepping up and the last time I was in the church in January, I saw 20+ men serving alongside of her. Praise God. The revolution, revival is happening.
Before this past January I had only heard stories of Caledonia. Rob calls it heaven on earth. The stories of hospitality were unparalleled. Entire churches out to greet the team upon arrival. An entire village really responding to her leadership, ready to love big and serve hard.
Oh and the food…..OH the food. I heard of fresh speared fish from the river one day for a team just because and the mounds of fresh banana cake each night because well, you just can’t go to bed without a piece of banana cake.
The truth was I didn’t totally believe it. Until I had a team up there.
We wanted to get a team to Caledonia for dinner one night, so I met with Pastor Rosaura, explained our desires and she said “we will do our best” I left knowing that she had everything in total control.
The night for dinner came and I drove in ahead of the team. As my truck poked out from behind the cane fields and rounded the turn to the church, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Tears fell down my face as I looked, stared at the sight before me. The entire village was out at the church (hundreds of people). Men swapping stories on the church lawn, kids playing tag, women finishing the last details for supper.
I step out and try to find Pastor through the crowd. I couldn’t get far as one man offered me fresh coconut water. He had harvested all the coconuts in his yard, one of his only resources, to share with the team. A child pulled me in another direction to play tag with her friends. Women hustled me into the church to sit down for special appetizers just for me as the leader. I asked for Pastor and found her. She was reviewing the financial report from her treasurer. I asked her how things were going. She looks around and says “The Lord is here. Things are great.” I asked if I could help. She laughed, scolded me for asking and said that I am here to be served not to serve. She promptly got up and made sure my glass of juice was full.
The team arrives and everyone is immediately peeled off in several different directions, some with kids, some with women, some with men. They are each given their own coconut water and are off basking in the joy of the community and local church. We enter the church and there before us is a banquet table. The decorations in heaven could not be more splendid than those that adorned the table set just for us.
I ask how I can help and the General, Pastor, kindly but firmly refuses. The food comes out and we enjoy a feast of fry-jacks, BBQ, tortilla, fries, cold cake, and juice. We over-indulged ourselves and I KNOW my indulgence was gluttonous. A feast set before kings and queens. I literally felt as she was sitting and watching, waiting and serving that we were at the King of Kings table. What an honor.
Our night continued with the team heading out for a ministry of food distribution, delivering staples to families and praying over the families, seeking to give them a blessing. Even the families of the village flipped the blessing around. Our team came back and said the families spent more time praying for and blessing our team than anything else.
As our team was out, Pastor sat me down, adamant that we review the financial report from the food money and ministry money I gave her for the evening with the team. As the Group Leader and I sat down, she gave each of us a copy and went line by line through the report. Every cent was accounted for. She then hands me an envelope. I look at it and ask “What’s this?” She says “It’s the tithe back to the team from the money you gave us for food.” I explained it wasn’t necessary and asked if she could take it back. She politely, yet firmly refused. “Tithing and generosity is just part of Caledonia.” Humbled, I took the tithe and told her I would use it to bless the team. Such a powerful leader, such humility, such integrity.
As our time came to a close, I sat with Pastor Rosaura and she asked “why is the Lord blessing us with this team tonight?” I looked her square in the eyes and said “Pastor, you may feel blessed but our team is leaving here forever changed. We have sat at the banquet table of the Lord in the presence of His chosen one for this village. You are a Queen and your heart has infected the heart of all of us. Thank you Pastor for your love. ”
She looked back at me and says “We tried our best”
I pray that my best in leadership, in integrity, in serving, in humility, is 1/100000 of Pastor Rosaura, the General. If it is then I am on my way to a full life in the Lord.
Revelation 21 says the Lord will dwell among his people in the New Heaven and New Earth. I can attest the Lord is dwelling in Caledonia Belize.