Bethel International United Methodist Church
Complete Story



Before Turning 16 Benito Pantin Was Teaching in His Native Village

Benito PantinHe grew up in one of the poorest villages in the Corozal District of Belize. He was 9 years old in 1965 when San Victor School officially opened. Six years later Benito Pantin was a Pupil Teacher making $26 per month. He had to work in the sugar cane fields at night in order to make ends meet. Four years later at age 19 he obtained his 2nd Class Teaching Certificate and began earning $62.50 a month.

Last month Benito retired after teaching and being a principal at San Victor Elementary School for 38 years. He never abandoned his calling to serve Christ through educating the people of his village. San Victor has been the main mission site of our February teams to that part of Central America. They are no longer on the bottom of the educational rung and have even become regional winners in spelling and soccer.

The professional road for Benito has been as hard to travel as the actual road leading out of the village (one year when our team was down the road was closed because the pot holes were large enough to swallow a bus). For two years at age 27 Benito would get up at 1:30 a.m. on Mondays to walk 6 miles to the main highway in order to catch a 4:00 a.m. truck that would take him to Teachers College in the capitalBelize City, a 4½ hour trip. He rented a room during week and returned to San Victor on the weekends to be with his wife and children. All to follow his call.

Several years ago our mission had a church built for his school. Three years ago a bathroom-shower facility. Another mission team is building a kitchen for the school this year. The handprint of Christ is to be found everywhere, but never any clearer than in this retired educator (one of his daughters, Hilda, now teaches 7-8 year olds at the school). His life has been like a “letter from Christ, written not with ink or on tablets of stone, but with the Spirit of the living God on human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3)… like mine.