Greetings in Jesus! If you'd like to read this e-Mailer with photos, or see past issues, click on "Ministry" at www.jonesjournal.org. This includes updates on ministry, family, praise and prayer.
* Guaymí Family Retreat
* Duíma ~ The Miracle of the FIRST Hut
* Colón evangelistic videos
* KidsQuest International Training, Crusade & Seminar
Hallelujah! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Greetings in Jesus as I write this on Good Friday! Remembering Tony Campolo's sermon 20 years ago at Southern California College: "It's Friday!... But SUNDAY'S COMING!!!!! Praise God Jesus is alive!
* The Annual Guaymí Family Retreat is where we've helped lead the children's ministries with our good friend Pastor Julio Valdés. He's coordinated it for 22 years straight.
Let's run down a few of the numbers:
- 30,000 lbs. of food donated by Convoy of Hope with Kent Moody, our friend and former missionary here in Panamá.
- Over 2000 adults, youth and children in attendance.
- Almost 500 children.
- 65 baptisms.
- 4 days of classes and 4 nights of Celebration services.
- 1 new friend (among many!) named Simón (pictured with his memory verse artwork).
Let me share a snapshot: at midnight, while cooling off outside my tent and doing my devotions, I heard three very different "sound tracks."
1. four-part harmony singing hymns in the adjacent Adventist camp.
2. praying in tongues from a pastor in the tent next-door.
3. "ALERT!" from the volunteer police calling all men to unload a food donation.
* Duíma ~ The Miracle of the FIRST Hut
To fully understand the context here, I encourage you to re-read "The Miracle of the Second Hut" in our 4/96 Newsletter. Reviewing briefly, in 5/95 we went to visit Duíma for the first time. The family in the first hut didn't talk with us because they were mourning the loss of their baby. In the second hut, they all received the Message and now are participating in the blessing of the school and church (see e-Mailer for 9/03 in Ministry on our website).
Pictured here are Yolani (17 years), who we met that first visit, and her two little sisters (ages 6 and 2), and their mother in back. Who you don't see are the four little babies who died in between.
This is the same family that practiced animistic religious traditions. Pastor César Rivera, whose heart has been in Duíma ever since that first visit in 5/95, told me they scribbled down some strange writings in a sacred book that they didn't even understand. They believed one day a child would be born who would interpret it for them. Instead they buried baby after baby.
Pastor César held Christian funeral services for each deceased child. At the last one, the parents gave their hearts to the Lord, and later burned their religious books and the sacred shrine. These two little miracles seated next to Yolani proclaim the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
* We celebrated my birthday last month. While there were more candles than on Yvonne's cake, we still managed to avoid setting the smoke detector off. Gracie helped me try out my new fold-up beach chair. Great timing--it will replace one that we broke at the Guaymi retreat.
* I traveled north (yes, the Canal runs north-south, not east-west) across the isthmus to Colón to show evangelistic videos with Oscar & Tony (see e-Mailer for 3/04). Over 100 kids came the two nights. All of them prayed the sinner's prayer at the end, for which we are thrilled. But we also recognize it means follow up is needed. I'll stay in touch with Oscar & Tony and through Light-for-the-Lost we are supplying evangelistic tracts to continue their discipleship.
* The KidsQuest International team (visit their web site: kidsquestworld.org ) left yesterday. First of all, I want to say "thanks" to all of you e-Mailer readers who responded letting us know you were praying for the Crusade, and for those who prayed without letting us know. You can see more photos in Teams > KidsQuest.
There were three days of training our Panamanian team to do the Crusade followed by three days of the Crusade, then three more days of a Leaders Seminar.
Things started slowly with half the 12 team members plus all of the Crusade kit luggage arriving a day late. It was a personal record four trips to the airport in two days, just for arrivals.
The Crusade attendance was about 250, which was less than we had hoped for to fill the university gym. Future crusades will be held in local churches. Each Crusade meeting ended with an altar call where almost every child responded. After the final night each child received the first of six PowerMark Seeker Series comic books. We've already had several calls to our Ministry Office asking for episode #2! That will provide opportunity for nearby churches to follow up. It's the personal stories that are coming in that are so rewarding to hear.
Evaristo, from Curundu, won 2nd place in the visitor campaign bringing 19 other kids! The winner brought 26 kids and chose her prize--a CD/cassette/radio. That left among other things a bike! But I guess the picture gave that away already. Two other boy winners each took a soccer ball.
A few days later we took the team to evangelize in Curundu. It's a very rough part of Panamá City. In fact, an amazed taxi driver said later, "You gringos went in there? *I* don't even pick up passengers there!"
Evaristo's mom was one of the first converts at the 6-year-old church in Curundu. His dad used to believe in Jesus, and hopefully will again soon. He didn't think it was worth the trouble to go invite friends or spend the bus fare to go to the Crusade. I wish I could have seen his mouth drop open when Evaristo got home that night. Pastor Gudiño told me he was speechless.
The pastor also told me this was the first time any US team has come to minister in Curundu. Last month I helped our secretary Dallis Quiñones do a Samaritan's Purse graduation gift distribution in this same Curundu church.
About 150 adults attended the three nights of the Leaders Seminar. We invited other evangelical churches to participate. Topics included: Biblical Bases for Children's Ministries, Discipline, Age Characteristics, Puppets, Object Lessons, Ballooning, and Clowning.
We heard terrific reports afterwards. One woman said she received confirmation of God's call on her life to Children's Ministries. Since we handed out a pack of children's tracts with an invitation to attend our monthly Leaders Seminars we expect our next meeting to be full.
Special thanks to KidsQuest Founders Steve & Mindy Benintendi, Team Director Phil & Robin Malcolm and all team members for coming to Panamá, training us and giving us terrific evangelistic tools in the Crusade kit. We already have three churches in Panamá City and two in the Interior who want to schedule their KidsQuest Crusade!
One major disappointment was the 11th hour cancelling of the Parade. The Transit Police had said "yes" for the Parade all along--as we had done last year (see 4/03 Ministry Report)--but at the very last said no parades this year. Though unsaid, it might have to do with the upcoming elections 5/2/04. That appears to have affected Crusade attendance.
* Chloe is still in El Salvador at an MK Retreat (Missionary Kid, though now they also call them "Third Culture Kids"). I say "still" because it's been a long time (OK, it's only 6 days) for our baby to be away in a different country. I'm really glad the camp director sent us this picture of the first day. Pray with us for her safe trip home and for God to really minister in her life.
* Our quarterly print newsletter should have arrived by now. If you'd like to receive it, or should have received it but didn't yet, please let us know.
I saw a new facet of a well-known verse for children's ministers through the KidsQuest Seminar. Children are very close to Jesus' heart. Lookout if you harm them--He'll harm you! If you help them, you make Jesus very happy.
The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child. And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me. "If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.