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Augusta, Georgia 2013

The Augusta team has headed home, but they will not return the same as when they left.

At the start of the week the team did ministry in the heart of Panama City and in some of its surrounding communities, but at the end of the week the team rode several hours away to a world quite different from life in the city. Calabazo is just one of a collection of modest communities of mountain farmers; the crops grow in rows on the lush edifices of the mountains. 

As the mountains grew increasingly steep, some members of the team lightened the bus by moving to a truck modified for transporting people over the mountains. We arrived at the church compound in Calabazo where we would be staying. The one-room church stands next to the pastor’s home, which juts out over a gurgling waterfall. Some of the team slept under the house in what will one day be a bakery, the rest of the team in the church. After setting up the tents, the team divided into three groups to serve the community. One team collected garbage from along the main road; another cleaned up the school house; the third group began digging a toilet behind a neighbor’s house. As light rain began to fall, the groups slowly returned to the church where they prepared for the night’s service. Members of the congregation trickled in while the team prayed for the Spirit’s work in Calabazo. Two team members gave their testimonies in front of the community before the lights were dimmed and the movie Courageous flickered onto the wall. Just as the tension in the movie had us on the edge of our seats, the generator went out and the movie was postponed until the next night.

The morning of our one full day in Calabazo, the team loaded into two trucks and bounced along muddy, rocky, and watery roads. We disembarked on the lawn of a small elementary school where we slurped on mangos and oranges until the students, staff, and some village families seated themselves for the drama presentation. The team moved quickly after the drama to speak with everyone in the audience. They all sat staring in awe, the spectacle stirring their hearts. The team boarded the trucks once more and headed over hills and through a rocky stream to another school where the mountains shrouded in cloud-cover peered over the grass, sunlight streaming through in a wash of warm light. These two communities, La Mina and Camatillo, had never heard the name of Jesus or the story of the Gospel until Thursday. What an incredible privilege the Lord gave to this team! As hearts were turned for Christ and seeds were planted, the team praised God for his faithfulness. 

Upon returning to Calabazo, the team ate and rested before returning to work, one group finishing the toilet and another lugging stones from the river bed. As the sun tucked itself behind the ring of mountains, the team and the community gathered once more to watch Courageous. With mixed giggles and sniffles, the gathering watched the film with only three generator-induced interruptions. 

Early the next morning, the team prayed with the pastor and his wife and left Calabazo’s beauty for the White House, truly a bittersweet departure. Back in Panama City, the team cleaned up and visited a market filled with local indigenous products at one end of Cinco de Mayo before exploring Albrook Mall. The team spent time worshipping through song and prayer at the White House, thanking God for this week. The 35-day team joined us later to continue in worship, all voices and hands raised shamelessly for the glory of our King. The Augusta team circled around the 35-day team to lay hands on them and pray over them; then the teams switched. As the trips near their close, all implored God to continue his work in our hearts. 

For the Augusta team, this week has been a time of experienced just a bit of the power of God, a time when each member of the team personally saw God work in their lives and in the lives of others. What happened in Panama this week should not be considered a rarity, though, as we should all be striving daily to seek the lost and to bring glory to God. The team has been encouraged to think of this week as training for how we should live everyday in whatever place God has us. 

With the joy of our Savior and love for those God has called from our hometown,

Steph and Daniel

 

The Augusta team is back at the White House, cleaning up before an afternoon of shopping. Everyone is safe, happy, and healthy, and we look forward to updating you on what God did in Calabazo later. 

Hasta luego,

Steph and Daniel

(Tuesday, July 2)

The Casa Blanca sits nestled at the base of Ancon Hill, the highest point in Panama City. Rather than going straight to Cinco de Mayo first thing in the morning, the team made the hour long walk up to the top where an enormous Panamanian flag waves proudly above the city. With outstretched arms the team prayed over Panama City, its different neighborhoods and their struggles. From the gang-infested slums to the wealthy business district, the team cried out to God for the salvation and sanctification of the people. 

Ministry on Cinco de Mayo began just after lunch, and the sun beat down relentlessly on the team. After two steaming drama performances the team was weary. Satan was using nature against us, but God had other plans. The team sought momentary refuge in an ice cream shop, gathered to pray, then energetically discussed ways to improve the drama. As clouds rolled in to protect us, the team performed another drama,this time with their own creative twists. They poured their hearts out in front of the audience, then poured them out further when witnessing one-on-one. 

Locating the next drama site proved to be a challenge as a man particularly opposed to the message instructed us to move from the spot we had picked out. Insistent that we leave and do the drama somewhere else, he turned his back to us. Thankfully our God has all authority, and the man’s heart changed. “Well,” he murmured hesitantly, “I suppose these people want to see it. Just do it here.” Without missing a beat the team set up and began the drama. All the while the man stayed close, chattering and mocking. But then the veil was lifted from his eyes. As members of the team spoke to him, he wept. They shared with him the hope and salvation he had never understood before, and he responded with great joy. He wanted to dance and party because he felt like he “knew God like he never thought was possible!” Eagerly he begged for information about a local church, which one of our translators was happy to provide. The team laid hands on him and prayed for the Lord’s work in his life. 

God continued to work through the team’s weakness as the day’s last drama was…well, a tad off (2 Corinthians 12:9). In great movements of the Spirit, each student got their own story of God’s providence and saving grace. Every ministry team today experienced the Lord’s power to break hearts: addictions, distractions, boundaries, and scars were revealed and relieved, just as we had begged God to do at the top of Ancon Hill. 

Please pray for the team as we head off early for Calabazo in the mountains, and as we return Friday afternoon. Looking forward to what God will do! 

In Christ,

Steph and Daniel

(Monday, July 1)

The team set out early for an appointment at a primary school. The crinkle of chip bags echoed in the courtyard as the team presented a drama to a crowd of round faces smeared with sticky fruit rollup. The first row jumped into the laps of the second as the dragon roared, and the children erupted into giggles and shouts at the last battle between good and evil. After a member of the team presented the gospel to the audience, the students ran back to their classrooms then reemerged in a parade complete with drums and dancers. The director of the secondary school barred us from performing the drama for the older students, but hopefully groundwork was laid for the future.

After lunch the team drove an hour out of the city to an impoverished community in the hills. In their ministry teams, the students and their translators knocked on doors inviting people to the small church for the drama. Teams were able to pray over the sick and hear the needs of the community. Under the heat of the church’s tin roof, the team performed the drama to a small crowd. The passionate pastor spoke over the gathering and prayed with earnest for the Spirit’s movement. 

In a divine appointment resulting from disappointment in the community’s disinterest, the team headed to a school with a student body of 4,000 students. Entering schools has become increasingly difficult this year as the new Minister of Education has wrapped the schools in red tape. The team worshipped and prayed on the bus for twenty minutes as leaders pleaded with the school’s director for entrance. He staunchly refused, but then gave way. “Fifteen minutes! I’ll only give you fifteen minutes!” he eventually conceded. The team rushed into the courtyard, which one of the students described as the Roman Colosseum with its four stories of balconies on all sides. With no introduction the students performed the drama for nearly a thousand middle and high school students, by far the most responsive crowd we’ve had. The roared with laughter as the People of the Land pranced, screamed at the dragon, and cheered enthusiastically through the sword fights. Although the fifteen minute cap kept us from being able to speak one-on-one with students, seeds were planted and the team prayed for them to take root as our local contact continues to work in that school.

The day was full of spiritual opposition in the form of hard hearts, but still the Lord moved in power, exercising His sovereignty.

Please continue to pray for the team to move with confidence in Christ. We have not been given a spirit of timidity. 

Praising God for His providence in the midst of opposition,

Steph and Daniel

(Sunday, June 30)

The team worshipped at La Comunidad Bible Church this morning, a bilingual congregation geared towards evangelism in Panama City. With raised voices and hands we praised the faithfulness of our God in two languages. The embraces of our brothers gave us strength as we headed out for an afternoon of ministry in the Kuna/Embera community of San Miguelito. 

The small concrete buildings of San Miguelito are built along the curves of a mountain, a smear of artificial colors and gray stone standing out from the green hills. The sun glared bright and hot today as the team walked up and down, up and down the hills to the drama site. The pastor warned us that the crowds would be small because of the day’s hot sun, but God provided shade. With the local pastor’s enthusiastic help, the team invited the people in the vicinity to come watch the drama in a covered pavilion. With children and young people lining the three sides of the pavilion, the team performed the drama using every bit of leftover space, from the rafters to the stairs. The team threw as much passion into witnessing as they did in performing the drama, and the message of Christ was evident. 

Because of God’s providence, the clouds rolled in, shielding the area and dropping the temperature. The team trekked down and up again to the fenced-in, concrete soccer field (like a basketball court) next to a bar blasting music.  Despite the competition, the team performed the drama to an even bigger crowd, complete with a row of shy mothers clinging to their indigenous faith. After the drama, the men of the team went beyond the fence of the soccer field to speak with the men of the bars and nearby houses. The cloudy eyes of some of these men cleared with recognition, and seeds were planted. The women of the team spoke with the women and children inside the soccer field, and some from the team were asked to pray over a sick infant. 

The pastor led the team up to the church where a gathering of the congregation awaited us. Two of the students from the team shared encouraging words with the people of San Miguelito, and the pastor and his niece shared encouraging words with the team. After a final prayer of thanksgiving, the team left San Miguelito to head back to Panama City.

Please keep the team in your prayers as we into city ministry tomorrow. Pray for focus, passion, and divine encounters.

In the deep love of Christ,

Steph and Daniel

 

(Saturday, June 29)

The Augusta team came into the Casa Blanca the afternoon of their flight with bleary eyes and sweaty foreheads. Despite their fatigue, the team was excited to start ministry, so they donned their costumes and ate the first PB&J’s of the week. With renewed strength the team walked around the corner to Cinco de Mayo.

Vendors selling jewelry, bags, hats, and fresh fruits and vegetables lined the middle of the street, shops blaring music on all sides. People of all ethnicities, ages, and histories flowed patternless between the vendors, hopping puddles of sewage and dodging dogs. 

The team performed three dramas this afternoon to some of the biggest crowds of the summer. The students moved with intentionality and confidence in speaking to members of the audience after the drama, eager to share the love of our Savior. They met another group of evangelists on the street, and the teams prayed over each other’s ministries.

Tomorrow the team will attend church at La Comunidad Bible Church then head outside the city to the Embera Puru community of San Miguelito. 

Amazed at His faithfulness,

Steph and Daniel

The Augusta, GA team has arrived in Panama City! They have dropped off their bags at the Casa Blanca (their home away from home here), and have dashed off to begin ministry on the nearby market street Cinco de Mayo.

We look forward to the great things God will do in/through this team and will (try to) update the blog daily.

Ciao for now,

Steph and Daniel

Country Coordinators

Dear Parent, Family, or Friend,

Hello, my name is Chad Thompson. I am the new Vice President of International Operations at Awe Star. I am so excited and ready to experience all that God has planned. Thank you so much for listening to the call of God and sending, supporting, and/or praying for the missionaries as they do the ministry of Jesus. We are praying for growth and divine encounters as they trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the weeks to come, you will be able to follow this group as they take the gospel to the lost. Please take every opportunity to get before God and lift up each missionary and team.

Updates Information:

1. Updates are posted MOST days. Some days, due to Internet issues and availability, we’re unable to post updates. Please do not assume something is wrong. We’ll do our best to keep you updated when we possibly can. Pictures take longer to upload, but we’ll  do our best to post as many pictures as we can.

2. You can post comments on pictures and updates. This is a great way to interact with the team.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Excited to hear all of the God Stories,

Chad Thompson

1-800-293-7827

chad@awestar.org

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