For thousands of years, the territory now known as Belize was occupied by the Maya people (1500 BC to 1200 BC). A number of Mayan ruins reveal an advanced civilization and much larger population than the 400,000 current residents.
Great Britain first sent an official to the area in the late 17th century, but it wasn’t until 1840 that the area was formally named the Colony of British Honduras. In 1973, this name was officially changed to Belize, followed by the granting of independence in 1981. At the same time, Belize remains a member of the Commonwealth of former British territories. Today, it is a popular tourist destination, with a revolving population of close to 1.5 million visitors arriving each year.
Our testimony today features an army officer named Arturo Manzanilla. He was trained under the British military system and served as a loyal officer in the Belize Defense Force. His journey to the Adventist faith took him through many byways before he discovered the truths of the Bible to a full extent.
Arturo and Paula, his wife, originally belonged to the Catholic faith. However, because of Arturo’s incisive biblical questions, which exposed long-held errors, they no longer had the favors of the leaders of their church and were ostracized.
After spending time with several other evangelical and Pentecostal groups, they found a home in the Church of the Nazarene.
Around 2008, Arturo remembers tuning in to a radio program whose programs were different. The topics he heard caught his attention, and as a fervent seeker, he jotted down every text the speakers used and verified them in his own Bible.
The radio station was Faith FM, operated by a group of lay Seventh-day Adventist church members in the village of San Ignacio, in western Belize.
Arturo and Paula listened to Faith FM for several years. After retiring from the army – and due to some special circumstances in their lives – Arturo and Paula were drawn closer to God. Their faith grew with every passing day.
They knew they had to make a decision. God had given them unequivocal signs of His leading in their lives. But they were already baptized in their former church. Wasn’t that enough?
As they reflected on their spiritual journey, both Arturo and Paula became convicted that they should be baptized again. After all, it was biblical: before coming to know the full gospel message, 12 men who had been baptized in the message of repentance of John the Baptist were re-baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:1-7).In August 2018, Arturo and Paula waded out into the rolling waves of the Caribbean Ocean to be baptized by Elder Ellis Coe, a retired Belizean pastor.
Like Arturo and Paula, others have already joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church because of the station’s ministry. But how many more Belizeans listen day after day to Faith FM? Only eternity will tell. Like Faith FM, other AWR stations around the world are carrying the good news of the soon coming kingdom of Jesus Christ into listeners’ homes and hearts.
by Dowell Chow
Retired AWR President