Panama is rapidly growing… further from God
Panama is the fastest-growing economy in Latin America, yet we are still not far removed from “Third World” status when it comes to extreme corruption in all levels of government and business, escalating immorality and violence, poor education, poor health care, a growing gap between the rich and poor and a dwindling middle class. We see a rapid growth in materialism, trying to obtain at all costs what they see and hear through television and the internet. The skyline of Panama City might look much like that of any other capital city in the developed world, but don’t be fooled by the façade that obscures the reality of spiritual darkness.
Due to the canal, Panama is on one of the biggest trade routes in the world. This opens the door to a large cross section of culture, language, and religion. Indifference to the gospel because of religious confusion, materialism, and social media is on the rise and many young people are addicted to their electronic devices and virtual friends. We live in a land where the word “Christian” is applied very loosely to anyone that would attend any kind of church, even if they don’t believe in salvation or teach that Jesus is God or the Bible is the Word of God without error.
In spite of these hurdles, God is working, and souls are being reached with salvation. The Lord himself said with respect to the strait gate and narrow way, “few there be that find it.” The small group of believers in the assembly in Valle Hermoso continue to show signs of spiritual growth. They are first generation believers, and most are the only ones saved in their family, so it’s not easy for them. Each day is a test of their faith as they seek to live a Christian life in the midst of ungodly home environments. Two ladies that were saved and baptized some time ago have asked to be received into the fellowship following a lengthy study about the assembly. This has brought us much joy in times of sadness and discouragement. A teenage daughter of a couple in fellowship professed to be saved in March of last year, and we do see evidence of new life. We are also seeing interest in the gospel from a young Columbian family and have had some good studies with them.
We continue with a Friday evening young peoples’ work, where we are seeing new ones coming in, having been invited by the other teens. They face many of the same temptations and distractions as teenagers from other countries, and the things of this world often have a louder call than the spiritual need of sins forgiven. Sadly, this call is not only to the unconverted, but also to those professing salvation. We recently lost a couple of promising young believers to the attractions of this world. One young lady told us the reason she was leaving was because the Bible wasn’t allowing her to do what she wanted to do. Thankfully though, this has opened the eyes of the other young believers, who are now eager to meet once a week at our home, and to seriously study the Scriptures and learn true discipleship and commitment to the Lord Jesus and to His teachings. Please pray for their preservation and future usefulness.
The children’s work among the Kuna people in Talamanca ended when the family who had opened their home to us moved to a new area. The mother of that family not only recently changed her earthly address, but her eternal one as well. She said that she could never sing “When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there!” because she knew she wouldn’t be. A few weeks ago she professed to be saved and is now confident she will be there! They now live on the outskirts of a fairly large town called La Chorrera. We have long prayed for a more permanent place to preach the gospel there, as we have often preached in the open air in the town plaza. So it appears to be a double blessing, as this new believer has asked that we continue the preaching and Bible studies in her new home. She has a husband and four daughters that are not saved. Please pray for this family.
We moved to a new area a year and half ago as well, and have been having a week of Bible classes in the break between school semesters and also at the beginning and end of the school year. This has made us known in the community and a nice number of children come along. Each series has brought in new contacts from the area, including some new Ecuadorian neighbors.
Bible classes at the children’s home have ended and now we are praying that the director, who is Catholic, will allow us to have more classes with the children during this coming year. He is not very friendly toward us, but with Lois volunteering as a doctor in their clinic and the free medicine provided there, he knows that it’s a benefit to the children and we told him that the spiritual help comes with the physical help. Both are needed for one to have a healthy soul. We have also been able to share the gospel with a number of Taiwanese ladies who come to volunteer at the home. They usually come for a two- year term, and we have the opportunity to share gospel literature with them in their native tongue and show them hospitality in our home.
Work in the far western province of Chiriquí continues with Marcos and Sara Sequera. Construction on the new hall in the village of Dolega is progressing well and the believers in the assembly there are looking forward to this new meeting place. Work continues in the city of David and in the village of Dos Rios and surrounding areas with Bible classes, gospel preaching, and a young people’s outreach.
Please continue to pray for the preservation and continuation of what the Lord has begun in Panama; prayer is our greatest resource.
“The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psa 126:3, 5-6).