“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