largest Jehovah's Witness outreach in Central America

by fokyc 3 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • fokyc

    SBTS student encourages Belize believers to engage cults with the Gospel
    September 27, 2006
    By Jeff Robinson

    John Divito, master of divinity student at Southern Seminary, speaks at a local church in Belize during a recent mission trip. Divito was specifically addressing the false teaching of cults like Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses during the trip. Photo from John Divito

    One stark memory John Divito has of his recent trip to Belize was of the buses that frequently rumbled past the home where he was staying.

    The buses were not ferrying loads of eager tourists across the vacation paradise that is Belize, but were transporting Jehovah's Witnesses to worship in their assembly hall. Belize is home to one of the largest Jehovah's Witness outreach centers in Central America.

    "Those buses were a daily reminder of the problem of cults in Belize, and it saddened me to see how many people were being deceived by the Watchtower Society," Divito said.

    Belize — a small, English-speaking nation on the east coast of Central America on the Caribbean Sea — is fertile ground for cult activity with Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons exerting a notable influence.

    Divito, a master of divinity student in the applied apologetics track of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, knows one of the major cults as something of an insider. The Springfield, Mo., native was converted to Christianity out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) while in college.

    Today, Divito's animating passion is teaching other Christians how to engage sects such as the Watchtower Society and Mormons with the Gospel of Christ. Divito spent Aug. 1-9 helping Christians in Belize to understand more clearly the teachings and methods of the cults that pervade their culture.

    "The tremendous ignorance among Christians in Belize — especially pastors — about biblical discernment and cults saddened my heart," he said. "Again and again I heard questions like, 'You mean that Mormons aren't Christian?'

    "All too often, their churches do not have the leaders that the apostle Paul insists upon in Titus 1:9: 'He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.' The pastors seemed so hungry to learn more about God's truth. As I spoke in churches, they would take rapid notes on what I was saying, and they often asked for more resources to help them combat these errors."

    While in Belize, Divito sought to accomplish three tasks: to present his testimony as a former Mormon and teach on cults and biblical discernment, to assess the possibility of developing a regional apologetics center for Central America and to meet with pastors and missionaries to determine how to overcome barriers in effective counter-cult ministry in a Third World setting.

    His trip was sponsored by the Centers for Apologetics Research (CFAR), a ministry based in Capistrano, Calif., that seeks to equip Christians in the developing world for discernment, the defense of the faith and cult evangelism. Divito's local church, Parkwood Southern Baptist Church in Clarksville, Ind., also commissioned him for service. Additional friends and churches helped to offset the cost of the trip, Divito said.

    "I preached and taught in several churches, sharing the need for biblical discernment, explaining the differences between Mormonism and historic Christianity and warning them of the dangers of cults," he said. "I also spoke at a pastor's prayer meeting on Mormonism and historic Christianity, including what they should expect their members to face as Mormon missionaries come knocking on their door."

    God also opened doors for Divito to proclaim the Gospel through the media during his nine days in Belize: he was interviewed by a Christian radio station, and he appeared on a cable television show in Belize City.

    "I really enjoyed the opportunities the Lord provided for me in the media," he said. "In Punta Gorda, my radio discussion covered my background in Mormonism as well as the differences between Mormonism and the historic Christian faith. On the television show I was also interviewed about these things and was able to interact with callers regarding these important issues."

    A bus trip back to Belize City from one of his engagements afforded Divito an unexpected opportunity to share the Gospel one-on-one.

    "While I was tired and listening to my MP3 player, someone sat down next to me and started talking to me," he said. "Little did I know what God had in store!

    "He asked me why I was in Belize, and this allowed me to begin talking about spiritual matters. I was able to share the Gospel with him on the bus, emphasizing that it is by grace alone that we are saved. For about an hour, we talked about Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross. I love the opportunity that God gave me on this bus ride, and still regularly pray for the man I met."

    Divito plans to continue serving as a counter-cult minister full-time upon graduation from Southern; his family is in the process of becoming full-time missionaries with CFAR.

    "My passion in life is to glorify God through proclaiming His Gospel," he said. "And members of cults and other religions need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ as much as anybody!

    "Therefore, I desire to bring the Gospel to them in a way that they will understand. I also want to educate fellow Christians to understand what we believe as well as what we don't believe. But more than this, I yearn for mature believers who will reach out to cult members themselves with the message of salvation. My mission trip was one small attempt to fulfill these goals. If the Lord wills, then I may be able to continue doing it after I graduate."

    So this is where the activity is!!

  • Atlantis


    Thank you for that article! Looks like he has got a lot of work ahead of him. Appreciate your posting!

    Cheers! Atlantis & Nevada

  • greendawn

    The WTS is not doing so well in the first world, where people are well informed about their real history and aspirations, they are showing small increases or even losses in terms of members, their only hope to keep up their numbers is by intensifying their efforts in the more ignorant third world.

  • Joker10

    Memorial attendance in Belize was 6,296 in 2005, which means 1 out of 40 persons in the country were present. Here are the publishers growth rate for the given year:

    2005: +4%

    2004: +10%

    2003: +9%

    2002: +13%

    2001: +1%

    That is a 41% increase in publishers just in the past 5 years. Bible studies are up by 107%.

Share this