jonesjournal.org > newsletters > e-Mailer for 8/2022 * [versión en Español]
Greetings in Jesus from Panamá!
Since printing our first missionary letter on a dot matrix printer in 1989, I have tried to creatively express our thanks and appreciation for your love, support and faithfulness in prayer and finance over the years. While my words of thanks might sound old, the changed lives are ever new! You make possible these testimonies:
We have partnered with Panamá International Church, known as “Paint Church,” almost from the very beginning about 14 years ago—serving on worship, sound, translation, and recently kids ministry. The recent Epic Kids Epic Event showcased the talents, discipleship and testimonies (pictured) in both English and Spanish of these amazing world changers!
For this month’s update on orphanage ministry, Yvonne reflects on an experience with a special young man:
“Jair” (not his real name) and his younger brother were new at the orphanage. As soon as we entered, we noticed them and the other kids were quick to tell us that Jair was deaf and mute; he also has physical and mental challenges. We learned that his 10 year old younger brother had been given the job to communicate to and for his 14 year old brother. Most of the kids became very impatient and irritated with Jair because to get attention, he would make loud syllabic noises and take things that didn’t belong to him. We always take a small Bluetooth speaker to listen to worship music and sing together. To try include him in the group, Kirk put the speaker in his hand, so he could feel the vibrations of the music while the rest sang. So now he will often come and grab the speaker and hold it up next to his ear and move to the vibrations he faintly hears.
One Thursday he wanted to draw on the white board, and then erase it, then draw again and erase it, over and over. I knew I needed to give him some one-on-one supervision if I wanted the white board to stay in good condition. Also, he needed some undivided attention and love. As I sat next to him, I thought about his future. What kind of a life does this poor kid have to look forward to? There aren’t any real programs to teach kids with these kind of disabilities in Panamá. We’re never told the family situation of each child, but the fact that they are there implies that they were abandoned, abused, or have parents who are sick or dead, or that there simply is no one to care for them.
During the art coloring time, we were listening to Christian music as usual. Kirk has a playlist of kids worship songs that play randomly. For some odd reason, the music jumped to the song “Blessings” by Laura Story. This song was not normally in the list and we hadn’t played it in years. But as I sat there with Jair, I listened to the words of the song:
And when darkness seems to win,
we know the pain reminds this heart that this is not,
this is not our home.
With tears in my eyes, God sent that reminder to me that He has a beautiful future prepared for Jair in heaven. Every time I see Jair, I look him in the eye and say, DIOS TE AMA (God loves you), through sign language. One day as I told him this, he picked up my reading glasses and put them on, looked at me and gave a big smile. Unforgettable picture in my mind! Pray with us for all the “Jairs” that God pours out his love now and prepare them for a bright future.
Pastor Aldo “Tony” Garcia (pictured with us and his wife Eloisa) invited me to preach for his church and ministry center’s 18th anniversary. Because, in his words, we were instrumental in starting the ministry. Now before you think this is me patting myself on the back, it’s not. It’s bragging on Pastor Aldo’s faithfulness to God’s call on his life and glorifying God for His provision. So what did I do?
Back in May of 2004 I heard about Aldo’s radical transformation from crime to Christ, so I interviewed him. If you hear his story too, you will see why I simply believed in him. So I wrote a reference letter for him on our AG ministry letterhead. That’s it. He said that letter helped to open doors to meet with pastors, who scheduled services, then made donations of food, supplies and funds that Pastor Aldo used to start a feeding center in a notorious skid row area of the city.
My theme for the message was from 1Sam. 7:12, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” I even brought a hand-sized Ebenezer stone as an object lesson. We celebrated the testimonies of transformed lives from this ministry:
- Jaime, who God healed of a swollen, infected foot, now he can work driving taxi;
- Isaac, who used to do drugs and sleep in a public park, now has a job, a house, and his family with him;
- Mariluz, who used to be emaciated from abusing crack cocaine, is now healthy & gorda (“fat” is Pastor’s word, not mine!), and married to Miguelito, also a graduate of the program.
- To God be the glory. Great things He has done!
During the Annual Business Session reported in a previous e-Mailer Yvonne and I met Pastor Rafael Tejada (pictured far right, along with neighboring Pastor Montezuma). He was on the vote counting crew; so during down time he asked if we would preach at his little country church, Templo El Espíritu Santo, in Chichebre, on the way out towards the Darién jungle. Of course we would! Plus add a training session for interested kidsmin workers beforehand? No problem! The warmth of the people surpassed even the humid tropical weather! (insert sweaty smiley face emoji)
This last weekend of July was supposed to be the extraordinary Annual Business Session for Panamá’s Assemblies of God in order to finalize national elections and vote on ballot measures. However, it has been indefinitely postponed due to nationwide protests over rising costs of fuel, food, medicines and complaints against the government that have shut down major highways, restricting supplies and delaying travel across the country. (AP News report)
So we request special prayer for both the Panamanian authorities and the opposition leaders to negotiate and resolve the conflict without additional hardship, especially for the most vulnerable. Also please pray for our Panamá Assemblies of God leadership, pastors and churches as we strive to be salt and light in a needy world.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm —he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121 (NIV)Blessings!
Kirk & Yvonne
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