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