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One Good Thing: Teaching in Belize

One Good Thing: Teaching in Belize

Mike and Lynn Caraway who have served as GMI missionaries in Tanzania for many years will be traveling to Belize next week to survey that country as a potential GMI mission field. They will be staying with Matt and Lindsey DeYoung, former GMI missionaries who had to leave the field of Tanzania when their daughter Lola was diagnosed with leukemia. Following is an article that appeared in the “One Good Thing” section of the online edition of WZZM13, one of our local news stations in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 17, 2018.

Grace Bible College professor Matt DeYoung teaches students in Belize, after moving his family there late last year.

We are going international with today’s One Good Thing. A professor at Grace Bible College moved his family to Central America, and he’s invited some students along.

Matt DeYoung wanted to move his family to Belize. He then approached Grace Bible College about bringing students down there to teach them firsthand about culture and cultural intelligence. While Matt is living there on their farm with his wife, six kids, and three foster children, he’s now also teaching.

In fact, he’s converting some of his property into dorms for students and visiting professors. He calls Belize the perfect place to teach culture. Ten minutes from his house, he says he has friends who are Creole, Garifuna, Mayan, Mennonite and more.

One student who has already been there and back says, “There has never been a college course that has changed my perspective and taught me so much,” for immersing students in new cultures in order to teach them about those cultures, Matt DeYoung, Grace Bible College, and the students willing to go to Belize get today’s One Good Thing.

If you want to know more about the class being taught in Belize, you can read the following press release:

Cultural Intelligence has been a Buzz-Word in academia for a few years and it is just starting to go mainstream with the epicenter of cultural intelligence training right here in Michigan. A local college professor from Grace Bible College is creating the most unique approach to teaching students cultural intelligence and it all started with him driving his family of six and a dog from their home in Grand Rapids to the Cayo district of Belize in a converted school bus to start building relationships with the local community to truly expose students to people that are invested in the teaching of culture who understand what professor DeYoung is trying to do.

“We are all in” laughs professor Deyoung. We bought a farm, we are fostering 3 children and we are committed to building the most unique experience for college students. We want the trip to be authentic, safe and available for all students. That means buying a large property, converting it into dorms for students and a nice place for visiting friends and professors to stay.

We love Belize and think this is a unique way to draw students into Grace Bible College and to teach something I am very passionate about. Professor DeYoung fell in love with the idea of teaching culture because it has played such a dramatic role in his own life. His story involves worldwide travel, international adoption, fostering children from several different countries, living in Africa and now living in Belize. He believes cultural intelligence is essential to anyone in leadership. Cultural Intelligence allows you to better understand your people and use their creative way of seeing the world to solve problems and generate ideas.

Professor DeYoung describes Belize as “the perfect place to teach culture; Belize is a country of only 350,000 people but it is rich in culture. Within 10 minutes of my house I have friends who are Creole, Garifuna, Mayan, Mestizo and Mennonite. The fact that I live here and am invested in the community allows me to provide students with a unique experience that no tourist could ever receive. The other amazing thing about Belize is that there is no language barrier. The people speak English in every village throughout the country.

Matthew DeYoung has been a college professor for the last six years. De Young explains: “I think this trip says a lot about how special Grace Bible College is; Very few colleges or universities would have allowed me the freedom to follow this dream and build something this unique. When he approached Grace Bible College about moving to Belize and developing a trip that helped students develop their cultural intelligence they were amazingly supportive of the idea. Dr. Scott Shaw of Grace Bible College explains that the college supports him. Dr. Shaw went on the first trip, He explained. It was really a unique experience that will allow students to have a really unique, life-changing experience.”

Emma Summerfield is looking forward to going on one of the trips next year. “I have had classes with professor DeYoung the last 3 years. He genuinely loves students and is so passionate about this trip. Everyone on campus is talking about this trip, and how jealous we are of the pictures of students learning culture in tropical paradise.”

Abigail Bickler a senior from Grace Bible College just returned from the trip and explained that “there has never been a college course that has changed my perspective and taught me so much.” Matt has been my professor for the last 4 years. He has been a my business professor in several classes. Before he came to Grace we did not even offer a degree. Today I know that God called me to business and after taking his courses I know that I am prepared to be an incredible employee for any organization I get a chance to work for.

Professor DeYoung is also fulfilling his passion of creating jobs in developing nations. “I was a missionary in Africa with Grace Ministries International. They are an incredible organization, they taught me everything I know about the way respectful mission work needs to be done.” When we lived in Africa my entire focus was about business as a mission and giving people jobs so there would be less orphans and more opportunity for people. For the last 6 years Matt has been working for as the president and CEO of a franchise organization called Shine. They built their entire business around the Bible verse Matthew 5:16. Matt explains, “I got to watch men and women change their lives by starting a business, I got a chance to coach people through the process. I became more confident that I could coach business people in any size business. When Matt left Shine for Belize it was because he needed to take care of his family. They are adjusting to a new life after God healed his daughter after a 6 year battle with cancer, and because he knew that God had put a leadership team in place at Shine that was so devoted and incredible it was time to use his talents elsewhere.

The DeYoung family is now ready to take reservations for students and guests in Belize. To find out more please contact

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