The Mission Continues
Bags are packed, the Man Up and Reign On Ceremony have been completed, and we are off to bed to be ready for an early start on our journey home.
A lifetime of memories have been made here in Panama. From the friendships forged to those who found life in Christ. Our students tonight prepared their stories of how God worked in their lives and how they saw Him transform people in an instant. Be sure to ask them about the great things God did.
This morning, our students ventured to a park to share the Gospel. Lives were changed! Please see the pictures below to see about the incredible day they had.
Tonight, in our final moments as a team, our ladies encouraged our men by speaking into them--their "grunt" language. Our men spoke into our ladies Proverbs 31 characteristics as they washed their feet symbolizing serving like Jesus does. What a great week these students have had in pouring into one another.
Although our mission comes to a close here in Panama, our mission continues at home. Pray for our students that they would go back and minister to their families, friends, and communities. Pray that the things they saw would lift high the name of Jesus.
Thank you to each of you for praying for us this week!
Power Perfected in Weakness
Second Corinthians 12:9 reminds us that God’s grace is sufficient for us, because His power is perfected in our weakness. Your Panama 14-day team saw the truth of this Scripture in action today.
We woke up this morning and dined al fresco again, feasting on another delicious pancake breakfast. After breakfast, we finished our quiet times and also broke into our MOM and POP groups, discussing what God has shown us in our quiet times and other aspects of the trip. We followed this with our by-now traditional PB&J lunch and a video teaching by Walker Moore about why Jesus was known as “Jesus of Nazareth.” We learned that Jesus is the Branch (the meaning of the word “Nazareth”) and that we are all to be His branch offices, places where others can come to access the full benefits He offers.
We also shared prayer requests and realized that our team, as might have been expected, has come down from our mountaintop experience on the islands into a time where our focus has begun to turn away from our ministry and toward home. We spent some time in worship to help make us stronger and, on the bus, were encouraged by one of our alumni not to allow a spirit of discontent to build. He reminded us that the enemy often loves to come in after a time of great success, bringing with him his lies and discouragement. As we traveled to our first ministry site at the University of Panama, we spent time in prayer as pairs, asking God to renew our focus and allow us to operate in His strength for His victory.
God answered those prayers in powerful ways. We sensed the excitement while still on the bus, when we pulled up to the University and heard students cheering for the World Cup game that was finishing up as we found a place to park. Within a few minutes, we were inside one of the campus buildings, preparing to present the drama in a large open area. We spent some time dancing to engage the students before the drama, and many stopped what they were doing to watch. The building had six levels, and by the time the drama began, there were people on all six who were waiting and watching. Think about the average university campus in the United States and you will realize what a miracle we were witnessing.
The university students and staff were very attentive to the introduction, testimonies, and every word of the drama. The Holy Spirit empowered our students, who gave one of the best performances of the trip. The audience screamed, cheered, exclaimed, and clapped. Afterward, when a general gospel invitation (net) was given, several raised their hands to receive Christ. When we went out as ministry teams to speak with them afterward, we found some students ready to accept Him and some believers who had been encouraged by our presentation. One even offered to go with us in ministry!
We were grateful to God and to Juan Pablo, one of our hostel workers, who made the arrangements for us to visit the university he attends. He sat in the front row, watching the drama with a huge smile on his face. We are so grateful for all the Panamanian Christians we have partnered with in ministry; their service is a beautiful offering to the Father that continues to bless us and those we serve.
After our wonderful university experience, we had the opportunity to experience another Panama City icon: the Metro (subway). We had to walk a mile or so from the university to reach the station, but, after boarding the metro, had only a short ride to the station where we exited at our beloved Cinco de Mayo.
On Cinco de Mayo, we performed two more dramas, both in front of busy stores with crowds of people milling about. We invited people to the dramas and also engaged with them through conversation and dance as well as worship. At both sites, we saw people come to Christ. One man told us he had seen our drama last year at his school but wasn’t ready to accept Jesus until now. One of our ministry teams spoke with two Kuna ladies in indigenous dress, one of whom accepted Christ. God continued to pour His power through our weakness.
By the second Cinco de Mayo drama site, the rain had started falling. But of course, that didn’t stop the Panama 14-Day team from going out to invite and engage with the busy shoppers. As we began our drama, we saw people watching from apartment windows and balconies several stories above us and from the nearby shops. One loudspeaker blared music just before the drama again, and we didn’t hear any noise from it again until just after the drama ended, eighteen minutes later.
Once again, the students gave their all. The audience oohed and aaahed when the Good Prince was thrown down on the wet, muddy street and later nailed to a cruel death on the cross. Once again, we saw several people give their hearts to the Lord and knew that many more gospel seeds were planted as well. As we finished, we walked back down Cinco de Mayo in a light rain, rejoicing that the Lord had counted us worthy to serve Him in Panama this summer and watch lives touched and transformed.
We returned by bus to our hostel home and were surprised with a delicious meal of hamburgers with all the fixings along with French fries. After dinner, the students had time to take quick showers before a time of worship, followed by a surprise double birthday celebration, complete with double cakes and gifts, for two of our team members. The students spent some more time in worship and sharing about how God has pressed us this week before breaking up into their Man Up and Reign On Bible study groups, continuing the work the Father has been doing in them as young men and women of God.
We can hardly believe our last day of ministry lies ahead of us. Tomorrow, we will spend time in ministry before we head to the famed Albrook Mall for a brief time of shopping and dinner out. We’ll do another brief update tomorrow night before we leave the country. Thank you again and always for your prayers and for the privilege of serving alongside your students in this beautiful country where we and, more importantly, the gospel, have been received with such warmth and openness.
Your Servant Leaders,
Mike and Sarah
Isaac and Mya
We have returned! Due to a schedule conflict on the part of the Kuna tribe we were serving, our trip back from the beautiful San Blas islands began Wednesday afternoon instead of Thursday morning. But we decided the real reason God brought us back early was that we completed the work He had for us there. God packed a lot of ministry into our two days-plus, and we know we will never be the same.
As leaders, we are so proud of this team! They have coalesced amazingly well and bonded as brothers and sisters in Christ in a relatively short amount of time. Even in the primitive island conditions, the students all accepted discomfort and were eager to perform any task we asked of them. When they return home, feel free to remind them of the ways they stepped as emerging adults during this trip, and continue to ask them to do significant tasks (those which give them value in the eyes of the people who matter to them).
Here, these students have had the supremely significant task of sharing the gospel with the lost, but they have also had many others, including learning to tie hammocks securely (for the past two nights, we all slept in hammocks tied to the beams of our huts); carrying jugs of water, our med kit, prop box, or food bag; and (for our MOMs and POPs) helping disciple the younger students.
Monday brought an early start for our team, who had packed for the islands the night before. We rose at 4:30 a.m. to make final preparations for the trip, including making our beds, cleaning our rooms, and piling all our hiking backpacks onto one bed frame in one bedroom. We ate a breakfast for the road consisting of a large muffin, apple, and juice and then loaded all our backpacks, food, supplies, life jackets, and hammocks onto six large SUVs, our transportation for the first part of our trip. Ask your students about the winding, up-and-downhill road we traversed for approximately three hours before reaching the port. As we waited for our boats, we gazed upon the miracles of God’s creation in the beautiful multi-hued blues of the Atlantic Ocean, tiny islands dotting the horizon on one side and the green, misty mountains of Panama in the background on the other.
After a brief wait, we boarded two boats (plus another that held our supplies) captained by Kunas and enjoyed a beautiful, windy ride out to the San Blas, a small chain of islands off the northeastern coast of Panama. There is a “tourist side” to these islands and a more indigenous side; our new home would be on the more indigenous side. Each island we visited, including the one where we stayed, consists of one Kuna village. The people live in huts generally made with bamboo walls, dirt floors, and roofs woven with palm leaves, although some have concrete or tile floors, and some have boarded walls. The Kuna use larger huts for communal buildings or (in some villages) churches. Several families gave up their huts for groups of us to use as our temporary homes, and the team spent the rest of the morning tying up all the hammocks and changing back into drama clothes.
Next, we met in the community building near our huts, where we heard from the pastor working with us for this segment of our trip. He later told us he travels to several islands and knows this one is open to the gospel. There is no church there yet, but it is a place where he plans to concentrate attention in view of starting one. He depends on donations for the gas to go from place to place and is usually able to visit this island only once every two weeks or longer. The pastor, who speaks Spanish and Kuna, introduced the village chief, who thanked us for bringing the gospel to his village. We were excited to work in a place where the leadership received us so warmly. After this introductory meeting, we enjoyed an island PB&J lunch.
After lunch, we boarded our two boats again for a trip to another island, where we performed for the village school. We danced with the students to engage them and then performed the drama, going out afterwards to share in our ministry teams. Few of the students spoke Spanish, but one of the teachers translated the gospel into Kuna so more could understand. We know seeds were planted and the Lord will use others to water and harvest.
We got back into our boats to travel to yet another island. The Kuna village here had a few block-style buildings in addition to the traditional huts. We set up to perform in the village square, engaging with the many children who gathered through dances and games, including “Duck, Duck, Goose” (Pato, Pato, Ganso), which they seemed to love. We presented extra testimonies and had a longer time of engaging here because we experienced sudden technical difficulties when our MP3 player (through which we play the drama track) would not work. We tried several times to make it work and ended up demonstrating Awe Star’s principle of fluidity: we are fluid so we can move with the flow of the Holy Spirit. We performed an abbreviated version of the drama as our CC Mike shared the story and translators took it into Spanish and then Kuna.
Afterwards, the ministry teams went out to share. One man told us he had been a Christian for a few years but had not been active in his faith. Our presentation seemed to reenergize him spiritually, and as we left for another island, we saw him sharing the gospel with a whole group of men. Another man, who did receive Christ, was encouraging the children around him to make the same decision, and many received tracts from us as we left for our “home” island.
Our first dinner in our island home consisted of chicken and rice with pork and beans. Our travels had made us hungry, and everything tasted delicious. Afterward, we assembled outside for worship and a teaching on engaging in prayer just as we engage culturally. A whole group of Kuna children gathered around us during this time while our leadership again met with the Kuna leaders.
The tribe wanted to perform a dance for us, so we watched in an open area as they performed a traditional song, accompanied with pipes played by a small group of men and dancing by a small group of women, all done in a circle with weaving in and out at various times. By this time, it was dark, but we were grateful to have the privilege of yet another incredible cultural experience. Afterwards, in celebration of one of our students’ birthdays, we roasted marshmallows over a fire in one of the huts and made S’mores using Hershey’s spread and Panamanian cookies. The Kuna who joined us really seemed to enjoy this treat, even when the marshmallows carried a large dose of charcoal with them. We all went to bed in our gently swinging hammocks, exhausted but excited for what the next day would bring.
Tuesday morning, we awoke to the sounds of tropical birds and the scent of wood smoke, realizing again that our travels had brought us to a unique place. After our morning quiet times, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast (thanks to our amazing cook, Mirna, who traveled with us from Panama City) of pancakes and fresh pineapple. We also took time to record the drama onto phones so we could use those recordings in case the MP3 player, which was working by this time, gave out again. We spent the day traveling, again by boat, to four more of the beautiful San Blas islands, performing our drama once in each place. On the first island, a group of men told one ministry team leader that they hadn’t known the message of Jesus until this drama but wanted to accept Him now. The team began to pray with these neb, and after only two sentences, more Kuna people came over who also wanted to accept Christ. After two more sentences, more Kunas came over, again wanting to accept Christ. By the time the group had finished, eleven people in all had received Him.
The day continued with presentations at more island villages, including performances at two schools. On one of the islands, it rained through part of the drama, and the village pastor opened his church so we could prepare our PB&Js and eat lunch under cover. On these islands, we often gave a group “net” (gospel presentation) since so many of the people did not understand the Spanish our translators spoke. On these islands, our testimonies and net were always translated from English to Spanish to Kuna, and we performed the drama primarily to a Kuna track, except at some of the schools, where the teachers wanted us to use Spanish since the students study that language in school. After hearing the drama so often in Spanish, the choppier, more guttural language of Kuna sounded unusual, but the students did well at keeping in time with the music and performing with excellence.
We saw some people receive Christ at these sites and many more seeds planted for the gospel. We returned to our island home for a time of rest and refreshment in our hammocks, preparing our hearts and minds for the evening of ministry ahead. The whole team remained in prayer, knowing we would have the opportunity to share the drama with our island hosts after dinner.
Mirna prepared another delicious meal of Spam with macaroni and cheese and corn (ask your students about our new Kuna friend, Leo), and we then moved to an open area in the village where the villagers had performed their dance the night before. It seemed every child in the village was there, along with many of the adults. We engaged through dancing and playing with the children as we prepared to present the drama.
Dark had fallen by this time, and the students began sharing their testimonies before the drama. As the music for the drama began, more and more villagers arrived to see the presentation. Some of our leaders, who have been on several Awe Star trips to Panama, said they had never seen such engagement on the part of Kuna villagers. They were watching intently and responding with appropriate screams, gasps, and laughter at the various parts.
As the drama finished, our CC Mike and the missionary pastor extended the net. By this time, it seemed that many of the children were distracted and ready to play. But a small group came forward when the pastor called for them to receive Christ and prayed a prayer along with him. As the children waited, an entire group of Kuna women came behind them, waiting to speak with the pastor. One by one, they shared their requests, many asking for prayer for healing and other family problems, but all wanting to receive Christ.
Our leadership prayed over them, first for salvation (a prayer which they repeated) and then for the healing we know Christ can bring. Afterward, one of the women began crying and sharing about her sister, who had been ill for several days and had remained back in the family hut. While the students continued to engage with the children and other Kunas who remained, some of our leadership walked to the hut. We laid hands on and prayed for the woman who was ill, asking God to bring her salvation (the woman told us she was “thinking about” whether to receive Christ) as well as physical healing. Please pray with us that the Lord will heal her as a means of demonstrating His very real power so she will make that decision for salvation soon.
At one point during this amazing evening, one of our men spoke with a Kuna man named Felix. Felix had come to know Christ in 2006 when, he said, three men from Oklahoma came and explained the gospel to him. As a part of this process, he fell to his knees and wept as the Holy Spirit moved in his life. Ever since, he has faithfully read the Bible daily and prayed. He meets with a small group of his own and three other families to study the Scriptures and told our student that there are many on this island who don’t know Christ, and he is praying that will change. He also said that even here, the biggest problem among the young people is drugs, and he knows that more of them knowing Jesus would change that.
Once again, we all but fell into our hammocks, rejoicing in what was surely one of the (if not the) most amazing days of our lives. We saw God’s power at work, and we rejoice in the power we know He has to continue to change lives on this island. We will keep praying for the missionary pastor to be able to return often and to eventually plant a church here, perhaps growing from the Bible study in Felix’s home. Please join us in this prayer for these people we have already come to love.
Wednesday morning was dawned gray, misty, and early. The students got up, had their quiet times, and quickly took down all their hammocks and ropes, then cleaned the hut and packed for our final boat ride. We enjoyed our island breakfast of scrambled eggs, spam, and corn cakes, followed by a teaching by Mike on relationships and learning our men’s “grunt languages” and identifying women’s Proverbs 31 characteristics. That time was followed by ministry at the local school, which we learned has only been in existence for 17 years. That means many of the parents of the students have not attended school. This local school only covers kindergarten through sixth grade. Students travel to another island for grades seven through nine and must live away from home for three years if they wish to complete high school, which a teacher told us few do.
We divided the students and translators into five groups to minister in the five classes at the school. The various groups all taught the students 1 John 3:16a, “This is how we know what love is: that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Some of the younger classes learned a simplified version. The children and their new “teachers” enjoyed sharing songs, prayers, and games during this time of spiritual and cultural exchange.
After the lessons concluded, our team presented the drama to a Spanish track in the school courtyard. Many of the children had probably seen the drama the night before, but they still watched with great enthusiasm, as did the teachers, who seemed grateful for the time we had spent there. Although all were Kuna, none of the teachers is from the island, and most serve here for only two years at a time. They come in and out by boat, occasionally spending the night if the weather is bad.
After a final island PB&J lunch shared with our Kuna kitchen helpers, the pastor, and a few others, we again loaded a boat with supplies and loaded ourselves into the other two boats for the short trip back to the port. We then did a reversal of our trek the other day in the six SUVs through the winding roads and back to our hostel in the heart of Panama City. The students seemed overjoyed to wash the sand off their bodies and experience air conditioning and cold drinks once again.
After a USA-style dinner of hot dogs and potato chips or Cheetos, we enjoyed a time of worship and teaching by one of our POPs on the Orphan Heart. We have material about this in our manual, and it is explained further in Walker Moore’s book Escape the Lie. Many of our students, like many adults, struggle with identity issues. Understanding the deep-seated lie that our heavenly Father does not love us and believing the truth (that each of us is His favorite child) can help us move into the identity and purpose He has for our lives.
We went to sleep—in beds, not hammocks—grateful for the great things God has done in and through us and anticipating more ministry on Thursday. Thank you for all the prayers during our time away, and please continue praying that we will finish well in our final days of ministry as we prepare to leave Panama early Saturday morning.
Your servant leaders,
Mike and Sarah
Isaac and Mya
(Thank you Marti Pieper for your gift of writing and sharing these updates!)
Off to the Islands
“God really does answer prayer!” This was the conclusion of the Panama 14-Day team after our day of worship and ministry today. Since you are a big part of those prayers, allow us to tell you what great things God has done.
After another delicioso patio breakfast of meat, croissants, fresh fruit, and cereal, we took a short bus ride to another part of town and La Comunidad Bible Church. The students spent time engaging with the children and people of the church as we waited for the service to begin. Many of the people were dressed in Panama’s national colors and/or soccer shirts because of the World Cup game early this morning between Panama and England. Despite Panama’s loss, spirits were high and the worship was powerful.
Marielena Tillinghast, the pastor’s wife, greeted us and introduced us to the congregation as part of their family, since they have worked in tandem with Awe Star so many times. Many of our translators, in fact, attend La Communidad, including Marielena’s sister, Selegna, who first took Walker Moore and earlier Awe Star teams to some of the Kuna tribes here. The team enjoyed worshipping with La Communidad and singing some songs in Spanish and others in both Spanish and English.
In the absence of La Comunidad’s pastor, Todd Tillinghast (in Puerto Rico working with a Cru pastoral effort), a Kuna pastor spoke. He was familiar with Awe Star because we have also performed “Freedom” at his church. He spoke in Spanish, and a translator made sure we could understand. He told us about a new effort among his people which will help make sure a primarily oral culture like the Kuna has the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. He thanked us for taking the “Freedom” drama to the Kuna because it, too, is a way for illiterate people to see and hear the story of Jesus. His message, taken from Mark 6 (the beginning of Jesus’ ministry), emphasized our need to see and hear as Jesus did, to view others with His compassion, and to view any obstacles we face as opportunities.
After church, we ate a quick lunch consisting of (guess what?) PB&J's along with chips and cookies and got back on the bus for another short ride. We got off the bus at a downtown park where a policeman told us we needed a permit to perform. The team began praying, and soon he had granted us permission to do our drama. We took a few minutes to invite people in the park to the drama and then set up to perform. After the drama, we went out in our ministry teams to share with people. One group of students were surprised to find themselves talking to a deaf man who had emigrated from Venezuela. Our translator proved her fluidity by pulling out our phone to text her translation to him. He really wanted to connect to a church, so we gave him the address of La Communidad and will also give the church his contact information. We were able to pray over him, and he was able to read our prayer as our translator texted it.
Another ministry team spoke with a vendor selling sno-cones next to the park. He had watched the drama and prayed with our team to receive Christ. He wanted to give the three ministry team members sno-cones as an expression of gratitude, but our leadership ended up buying them for the entire team, s a welcome treat in the hot Panamanian sun.
Next, we walked across a bridge to the same bayside park we had visited yesterday. The team prayed while our team directors searched out a drama site. They came back excited because they had made a deal with a small dance troupe practicing in the park. The dancers would not agree to watch our drama but had agreed that if we watched their dance, they would listen to our stories (testimonies). Our team watched their dance and applauded wildly. We were preparing to share a testimony or two when one of the male dancers shocked us by saying, “We want to see your drama.”
They sat down, heard our testimonies, and watched the entire drama. Instead of going out in ministry teams afterwards, our leader who had made the original deal with the dancers stood up and presented the gospel. All eight members prayed to receive Christ! Our leader encouraged them to use their gifts in dance to glorify God, and one of their team members thanked our team for what we are doing in bringing the gospel to Panama.
We returned to our hostel for another delicious dinner of pork, rice and beans with cake for dessert and then enjoyed a time of worship along with a missions teaching by our hostel host, an AWANA (children’s Bible club) missionary here in Panama. Tonight, we are packing for our trip to the islands. We have an early-morning departure time for our trip by Jeep and boat to the islands.
Our ministry there will consist of performing the drama as well as servant evangelism, so pray for us to connect with the right opportunities for both. We will sleep in hammocks and be without electricity and wifi until we return on Thursday, so our next updates will come after we return. We promise to post lots of pictures as well as details from our next few days of ministry once we are back in Panama City! Thanks as always for your faithful prayers.
Your servant leaders,
Mike and Sarah
Isaac and Mya
Rejoicing in the Rain
A pink-streaked Panamanian sky greeted us today as, after morning quiet times, your Panama 14-day team met for breakfast on the patio of our hostel. We began our meal with delicious fresh pineapple and watermelon, supplemented with cereal, sausage, and croissants.
After breakfast, we quickly prepared to leave for the streets of Panama City. Although this is only our second day in-country, the team has the process of loading the bus down—no small tasks when that load includes 23 people, their backpacks, drama props, med kit, “Barney” (sound system), lunch bag, and huge jugs of water. Almost before we knew it, we had arrived at Cinco de Mayo, a well-known street in the heart of Panama City that provides many opportunities for ministry.
We began our work in a park at one end of the street. The beautiful setting with a central pavilion and a church to one side contrasted with the obvious need in the lives of some of the people we saw there. We spent a few minutes inviting them to our “Freedom” drama and then performed it. Although none of those we spoke with wanted to receive Christ, we did have encouragement from more than one believer there.
One ministry team also experienced the heartbreak of two women telling them they were not ready to give up their sins and so did not want to begin a relationship with Christ. “We want it to be real when we do,” they said. Please join us in praying for these women that this moment will come soon and that Jesus make Himself real in their lives.
We continued down Cinco de Mayo and performed the drama at two different sites. Picture a bustling street with Saturday shoppers of all ages and modes of attire (including tribal), add Latin music blaring from speakers in various stores and frequent loudspeaker announcement urging people to buy this or check out that, and you have a small picture of what we experienced.
Today, you would also have to add torrential rain to that picture. We are so proud of our students. At the third drama site, it rained before and during our presentation, but the team kept going with no complaints or problems. The scene in which the Good Prince is thrown to the ground before he is whipped and beaten is much more powerful when the ground (pavement) is wet and muddy. As the story drew to a close, God stopped the rain and sent the sun, adding His shining blessing to the celebration of resurrection and new life.
We had another unexpected blessing during our PB&J lunch, which we ate in one of the covered areas just off Cinco de Mayo. Here, a young woman approached some of our students and shared that she had seen our drama as a little girl. Although she hadn’t understood much of it at the time, she always remembered that the Gentle Ruler told her she was a princesa, a special child of the King. She is active in church today and has learned many Bible verses through the years. It encouraged our team to hear how much difference our ministry can make even in the life of a young child.
One of our leaders had similar encouragement, but from someone she had ministered to in 2014. That summer, a man from Nicaragua came to know Christ through the presentation of “Freedom.” He and his family had fled for their lives when they left Nicaragua but, since they had entered Panama illegally, he was unable to work. He feared being deported to Nicaragua, where he expected to be killed. That year’s team took up a love offering to enable him to get his green card and remain in Panama legally.
Fast forward four years, and when he saw our team, he remembered our leader and her testimony right away, telling her how much her words had touched him back then. He has his green card, and he and his family no longer live in fear. We want to remember these stories on the days when we don’t have such obvious evidence that our work makes a difference. Whether we see the results now or in eternity, we know God is using us in ways both seen and unseen.
After lunch, we traveled by bus to a bayside park near the downtown area. Although rain still threatened, we saw lots of soccer players and other people ready for fun in this expansive area. The students went out to engage with the people by playing soccer and talking with them, inviting to the drama that would soon take place.
Just before we began the drama, the rain also began—not a warm rain as we have already come to expect here, but a cold downpour. Once again, the students showed genuine selflessness, continuing to pour out their all even when the rain increased. Most of the small audience left, but three people remained, standing in the cold rain and watching the drama with great interest. Afterward, when the students went to speak with them, all three prayed to receive Christ. As one of our students told us, these were truly seeking souls, drawn (and kept) by the Holy Spirit to hear the Good News at just the right time.
We stood under a roof and dried off for a short time before performing the day’s final drama at another site in the park. This time, the rain was not as heavy and had stopped by the time the drama finished. We saw several people come to know Jesus at this site, including one of the ice cream vendors whose cart was set up near where we performed.
A delicious dinner of spaghetti and salad awaited us back at the hostel, and we enjoyed a time of worship and true fellowship—talking about the things of God—afterward. The students are doing the “Man Up” and “Reign On” studies now, led by their team directors. These Bible studies are designed to help them continue their rite of passage journey and equip them as men and women of God.
Soon, we will retire for another night of rest. We will worship at a local church in the morning and continue our ministry here before heading to the islands on Monday. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. You are truly a vital part of our Jesus ministry here in Panama!
Your Servant Leaders,
Mike and Sarah
Isaac and Mya
To God Be The Glory
What a day!
Our day started early at 6 a.m. in preparation for a great day of Jesus ministry. Our students gave their all!
We started ministry at an English speaking school. It was exciting to see our team perform the drama well, but what was even more exciting was seeing students at the school respond to the Gospel and our students engage with them in sharing the specifics of salvation. After this first drama alone, we saw 20 students surrender their lives to Jesus. When the students realized how God used them as tools to lead many to Christ, the bus was filled with screaming, clapping, and big smiles . Today, this is what warmed my heart the most.
Our next stop was a school of about 2,000 and we performed the drama for some of the students who are trying to learn English. Our young adults handled themselves well as the students swarmed them for pictures and English conversations. Saying goodbye to our newly-made friendships was hard, but we know we will see them again in the Kingdom of God.
We arrived to our last drama site about 45 minutes early. The students made good use of their spare time to really open up to each other and let down some of their walls. As they shared their "long version" testimonies, they realized many of them have similar struggles and backgrounds. This openness allowed the unity of the team to grow deeper and stronger. This is something us, as leadership, have been strongly praying for.
At our last drama site, we returned to the English speaking school to perform the drama for another group of students. One of our students after the drama, led by the Holy Spirit, clearly explained the Gospel that many came to know Christ. Our students did an awesome job of talking with all of the students at the schools. We are looking forward to see what God has in store for our team tomorrow.
This evening, our team gathered for dinner and worship to cap off a great day. Please be praying for ministry opportunities and strength as our students get up early and start dramas.
To God Be The Glory!
The Secret to Purity
Awe Star is more than just missions. It's discipleship.
The environment young adults are in challenge them to look deep in the Word. We have a saying, "The Word makes us deeper." When we are shallow, we need to go directly to the word of God as it is will help us dive beyond the surface to find the treasures meant tohelp
us make much of Him.
This morning, one of the Scriptures our young adults read was Psalm 119:9-11:
"How can a young person stay pure?
By obeying your word.
I have tried hard to find you--don't let me wander from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."
Oh, how majestic are the words of God. How simple are the truths of His Word. How easily accessible are the words of God, yet how difficult we make them to find, but today, our students were challenged with this simple, yet profound word to discern the struggles they face in regards to purity. The Word is our compass....to life and to purity.
Today was a full day of drama training. Parents, you should be proud. There are a number of our young adults who have never seen the drama, but they have put their whole heart in preparing for this opportunity to share the Gospel.
Tonight, we had the honor to recognize Walker and Cathy Moore for 25 years of faithful ministry in sending many young adults to the mission field. The Country Coordinators took turns praying, giving encouragement, and washing their feet. What an incredible evening. Our students wrote thank you notes to Cathy and Walker for their years of investing.
We closed out the evening by calling parents before heading to Panama tomorrow. Our young adults are excited about finally making it to Panama. They have worked so hard and are anxious to start sharing the Gospel.
Pray for us as we travel. Pray for our first day of Jesus ministry in Panama as we head to a few schools to present the Freedom Drama. Also pray for our other teams headed to Peru, The Gambia, and Hungary. We are grateful for your prayers!
Eyes Wide Open
“In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God who said,”Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians4: 4-6
These were the words read in Scripture by our team this morning in our quiet time. We live “sent”as light to the people of Panama and to our team. We are spiritually preparing for what lies ahead. We were reminded this morning that we are in a battle. The battle is real and our young adults get the opportunity to be on the front lines in sharing the Gospel.
We proclaim Jesus and because of this, our eyes are wide open to His amazing grace. Our eyes are wide open to the glorious truth of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Our eyes are wide open to seek the lost--those who have been blinded by the enemy. Would you continue to pray for us as we put on the armor of God and prepare for the incredible journey that God has us on?
This morning, Walker taught our young adults how to S.H.A.R.R.E the Gospel and engage the people we are sharing with. Peggy taught on Ephesians 6:10-12 on the reality of spiritual warfare and how to fight the battles we are in. This is the incredible part of the journey we are on: discipleship. Our young adults will be challenged to dig in the Word and seek the truth through the pages of the Bible. We want them to establish a solid foundation as they move forward in their journey with Christ.
You would be so proud of your young adults as they have learned the drama quickly. Many of them have never performed the drama before. We have one more day to practice in preparation for Panama.
This evening, we gathered for worship and the team spent time learning about traveling do's and don'ts, packing and logistics as we prepare to depart for Panama this week. The Lord is doing a great work in the hearts of our team.
Teachings, Trainings and Tags
What an incredible and full day!
This morning our students ate a full breakfast, learned about spiritual gifts and took a spiritual gifts assessment to help us know how God has put our team together to serve.
This afternoon, drama training started. A few were nervous, but as we stepped on the practice field, our team rose to the occasion with cheers for one another. Roles for the drama were cast and off they went to train for the drama.
This evening, our Team Directors, spoke into the girls and guys through Man Up and Reign On. Our young men were presented with a Man Up dog tag to start the journey of discipleship. Our young women were presented with Reign On charms as they start the journey of discipleship in being godly women and embracing their identity in Christ.
These next two weeks are more than just a mission trip, but they will be challenged to grow in their walk with Christ. Would you pray for our team, as we journey together? Would you pray for revival to happen on our team and in Panama? Would you pray that the students on our team will embrace their identity in Christ?
Thank you for standing in the gap for the Panama 14 Day Team!
Mike and Sarah, Country Coordinators
Isaac and Mya, Team Directors
The Panama 14 Day Team has arrived at Awe Star University!
As each of these students have a unique story of how God brought them here to serve, we know the Lord will use them all in a special way this summer.
A delicious dinner was served and we joined the other teams together in worship. After our worship time, we gathered for some team time spending time introducing one another, preparing for Jesus ministry and worshiping together.
Please pray for us as we start this incredible journey this summer.