Tyson and his older brother lived with their parents in Belize City. Both brothers were very involved in sports and other activities at their high school.
Their mother had grown up as a Seventh-day Adventist, and she and her family had served in the church for many years. As she grew older, however, she fell in love and married a man that was not an Adventist, and she drifted away from her faith.
One evening as Tyson and his brother were walking home from school, they happened to pass by an Adventist church. They observed a group of young people socializing and having fun at the church. The following week they passed the same way, and again they saw the youth singing and studying the Bible. Tyson became curious and said to his brother, “Let’s go and take a closer look.”
Reluctantly his brother agreed, so the two went to the door and peaked in. One of the youth leaders saw the young men and invited them in. They stayed for the rest of the meeting and enjoyed it. Another youth leader invited them to return the following week.
Tyson and his brother went home and told their mother about the meeting, asking to return the following week. She agreed but reminded them of the football game they had at school on Tuesdays. The young men decided to go to the youth meeting instead, and learned that the meetings were held every Tuesday evening. On that evening Adventist young people from all over Belize City meet in their local churches to study the Bible, play games, participate in cooking classes and other life skills sessions. Each member is encouraged to bring a visitor to the meetings. This gives the members the opportunity to fellowship with each other and the chance to reach other youth for Jesus.
Tyson was invited to Sabbath School by one of the youth at the meeting. From that day on, he and his brother attended Sabbath School regularly, and it wasn’t long before their mother was attending Sabbath School and church with them. Following Bible studies, Tyson and his brother were baptized, choosing to give up the excitement and friends of the world for Jesus.
After graduating from high school Tyson believed that God was calling him to pastoral ministry, so he went to the United States intending to study at an Adventist university, but found costs prohibitive. Tyson ended up studying at an Adventist university in the Philippines where he completed his theological studies and pastoral training.
Returning to his home country, Tyson worked as a pastor of several churches. Today Tyson is married, and he and his wife are currently serving as missionaries in Hong Kong. His mother is still serving the Lord faithfully, and his father attends church regularly.
This came about in part because of dedicated youth leaders who took the time to shepherd and nurture the youth, and because of young people who were willing to accept the call of God to reach out to their peers and bring them into His fold.
In Belize approximately 70 percent of Adventist church members are youth. For the past several decades the Belize Union Conference has organized youth rallies for the young people in their territory, but have faced the continual challenge of trying to find space that will accommodate them.
“It’s always been a challenge to find a place in Belize that has the facilities to cater to so many young people,” says Pastor Leslie Gillet, Belize Union youth director. “Back in the 1980s we began talking about the need for a facility. This youth camp/evangelism center is important because it will give the young people a sense of purpose. Most of the young people who come to church in Belize come looking for a purpose. We come because we sense there is more to our lives than just living. Having a facility like this will give the youth of Belize a sense of belonging and a place to learn and recreate together.
“There is so much in Belize that we can share with the rest of the world. We just hope that many of our brothers and sisters from the rest of the world will get to know Belize and share with us.”
Part of your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering this quarter will help build a youth camp/evangelism center in Belize.