by bethany godoy
missionary to belize
I grew up as a missionary kid, and if you’ve been following along with the stories you may have read my mom’s story (click here to read Jadine Fritzler’s story) There was never a moment I didn’t know about Jesus. And to be honest, I’ve always had a burning desire to show others Christ’s love. I imagined I’d grow up and be a missionary myself. I imagined myself rescuing children and doing great and amazing things for Jesus, even dangerous things. I had high hopes and dreams for the missionary life I wanted to lead.
When I was eleven years old my parents and I moved to Belize. I spent the most pivotal time of my adolescence in Belize and it became my home. I went to a Belizean high school where I was the only foreigner, and ended up marrying my high school sweetheart at age 18.
Before my husband and I got married we decided that we wanted to start young. And by that we meant life, ministry, and marriage. I remember the conversation so clearly. We said we had a lot to do in this life and we’d better start now. Before marriage we had dance/drama groups at church we were heavily involved with, worship teams and children’s ministry. When we got married we started having people live with us. We both strongly desired to do ministry and do it full-time. So we did what all people interested in doing full-time missionary work do- we talked to teams who came down to Belize and had gotten to know us, sent out emails to churches that knew me as a missionary kid, now reintroducing myself to them as a missionary. We usually were met with enthusiasm from people we spoke to in person. We were encouraged by them and usually a received a kind sentiment from them along the lines of, “God will provide.” Emails were ignored, or received almost an amused response with statements like, “You are so young!” or, “Once you have more experience…” I felt crushed and defeated. This is what I had always felt called to do: love people with with the love of Jesus. I wanted to be supported in this. I wanted the provision to be able to do this. And then a day came when we said, “If this is what we’re meant to do, we will do it.”
Looking back I am so thankful for the road blocks and what we felt was rejection. I thought that there was only one way to go about ministry. And God taught me the long and hard way that we are all called to minister, just as we are and with whatever we have. We are all missionaries. We don’t all have ministries in our name, or non-profit organizations, but we all have a call, and if we don’t realize this, than the sphere we are in is going to miss kingdom opportunities.
The year my husband and I got married, we had 5 people live with us and had our first baby. We survived off the income from personal training that my husband was just starting to do, my small dance salary, and prayers. I cannot count amount of times we ran out of food and saw a literal miracle or had someone just bring us food or fill our gas tank. The next year, we began feeling the weight. The weight of lack, the struggle. We were now youth leaders at a small church and barely making it, and our son was almost one. We decided that we needed to focus on us. We needed time to help ourselves before we helped others. So we attempted to move to the U.S.A.
Culture shock, depression, fumbling around trying to figure out how to go about simple tasks were just a few of the things that we encountered there. I got a job cleaning at the hospital, my husband stayed home with our son. We got an apartment. We furnished it. We got a car. We should have been happy. But we weren’t. I remember asking my husband, “When do you remember feeling the most alive?” We both had the same answer: when we were working with youth in Belize. After only four months in the U.S. we moved back to Belize, and took over the youth group that we had previously been working with.
Before long, the church that the youth group was a part of closed. We decided we wanted to continue working with the youth in our village. I started teaching dance in the village. We became a licensed foster family. In the last three years, we’ve had nine foster kids pass through our home. One passed away in his sleep while in our home. One went to prison after living with us. We’ve had four youth group kids live with us for different periods of times as well. We had another baby and my husband opened his own personal training studio.
Saying yes isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a daily thing. I feel like I’ve aged so much over the last year. When you say yes to God, you open yourself up to being broken. And yet here I am, feeling like I’m just at the beginning of my yes. I’m 25 years old. My family could have been in a better place financially if we had decided to take care of ourselves first. My heart wouldn’t be as bruised if we hadn’t said yes. But I’d say yes all over again… to being broken for what breaks God’s heart.
So, here I am. I look back on thirteen kids who have passed through my home, my own two children, about a hundred dance students and multiple youth kids who have come through our youth group. Numbers sound impressive, but to be honest, I don’t see much of what I’ve done. Not much visible “fruit”. Saying yes doesn’t mean you’ll see the end result. I’m in the planting season of my yes.
Today, I want to encourage you- it takes one yes. A simple yes. It doesn’t have to be moving to a different country. It can be delivering food to your neighbor who’s husband got laid off. It can be volunteering at your local pregnancy center. It can look like picking up groceries for your elderly neighbor amidst this covid nightmare. Don’t compare your yes to anyone else’s. But know that one yes will lead to another- and every day after that, you will have a choice. You can choose to be broken for what breaks God’s heart, and when you do, He will come through for you. There is one thing I know for sure, and God has proved it to me time and time again: “Make taking care of others your business and God will make taking care of you His.” – Clifton Nobles
Bethany Godoy was raised as a missionary kid. At the age of 11, she moved to Belize with her family, and still lives in Belize 13 years later with her husband Kaylon, and children (both boys, ages 5 And 2.) Bethany started 150:4 Dance (Psalm 150:4 Praise him with your dancing!) four years ago to make dance available to girls in the village. She and her husband also have a youth ministry in their village, 4:12 Youth (1 Timothy 4:12 Do not let anyone look down on you for being young, but set an example..) and their family is a licensed foster home.
If you want to read more of Bethany’s writing, check out her personal blog at: https://crossculturemama.com/