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New Hope, Duncan

(Saturday, June 29)

The rainforest of Gamboa is just outside the city limits. Thirty minutes by bus and five minutes by boat and the team was lugging their bags up to the village known as San Antonio. The lake sparkled in the sun, bugs and birds buzzing over the lily pads and reeds. The trees were thick with full, green leaves and vines. The Embera and Wounon peoples of the village live in stilted huts, and they peeked out to look at us from under the woven palm roofs. It wasn’t until the team had set up camp that we got to explore. We trekked along a path tourists pay big bucks to walk, and experienced Gamboa’s diverse and bustling jungle. Then the team prayer walked from the first village, down a ravine to the second village, and up a slippery incline to the third village.

Twelve huts housing about two families per hut (the government won’t allow the people to chop down any more trees or build any more houses) bring the total of the three villages to around seventy people. The further we walked, the less eager the people looked to see us. At one time the third village was closed to missionaries like us, but thanks to God their hearts and homes have begun to open. The team hiked back to San Antonio for the night’s church service.

San Antonio’s small congregation meets among the stilts under a house located in the center of the village. With the taller of the team hunched over, the locals and foreigners worshiped and studied the word of God together. Insects hummed in the darkness as the gathering of believers listened with heads nodding in agreement and lips murmuring thanks to God. After the service, the team fled to the cover of mosquito nets for a night’s sleep. 

The next morning, the men of village taught the men of the team how to use machetes to build another wing onto a family’s hut. The young women of the team gathered around an elderly woman from the village to learn about the daily responsibilities of women as well as family customs. In the afternoon, the team broke into small groups to visit the people in all three villages. The groups carried trash bags with them so they could pick up any litter strewn about the ground. Their main objective was to engage with the people: play with their children, sit in their homes, talk to them. After inviting everyone in sight to the drama that would be performed later, the team returned to base camp in San Antonio to change and eat dinner. The rain had poured all afternoon, pattering on the watertight palms above the heads in every home. The rain slowed as the team prepared to perform the drama at the evening service, but mud still sloshed between their feet as they gingerly pranced and jumped through the story. With added slapstick flair, the team enthralled the audience. 

Early the next morning the team packed up to leave. After hugging some of the children and waving goodbye to San Antonio from the dock, the team boarded the boat. Memories of the hospitality and hunger for God’s Word in the people will remain with the team as they dwell on God’s call in each Christian’s life to spreading the Gospel.

Continue to pray for those on this team, that they would not let the experiences they had in Panama leave them unchanged. A changed life changes lives. 

In Christ,

Steph and Daniel

Country Coordinators

 

 

The team has arrived safe and smelly at the Casa Blanca from Gamboa.

This afternoon the team will visit an indian market and then the massive Albrook Mall.

A detailed update to come later,

Steph and Daniel

The team streamed over the sidewalks between the buildings at the University of Panama en route to the medical school where students just finishing exams were gathering. Chattering on the steps and picnic tables outside, the medical students welcomed us with curious smiles. Some of them huddled together near the group of oddly dressed foreigners and watched the drama with interest while others looked on from afar. The University of Panama boasts the best medical school in Latin America, and many of the students we met today knew English. God provided some of these as translators, an unexpected blessing. The team engaged with some of the brightest of their peers here in Panama City and many of them accepted the grace that is available to all. 

After almost an hour, those from the medical school drifted away–to class or home or work–hopefully with a new or refreshed heart. The team continued the trek across campus until entering the English building. Inside, the walls gleamed stark white under the florescent lights. A three story building with two aquamarine-colored stair cases created a central space for the drama. The team ate lunch while clusters of students began lining the two stories above us. After the drama, the team broke into teams to talk to students on all three floors, stairs, and lobby. The students practiced their English while the team practiced their Spanish, and through the process God worked on hearts searching for truth.

Although the team intended to walk from the campus straight to a neighborhood, God had other plans. Representatives from the energy drink company Red Bull blared music from loud speakers and passed out muffins and soda to students milling about under ancient trees. This small park was located between the communications buildings and the tall fence topped with barbed wire guarding the university from the street. Red Bull had amassed a number of people in a location perfect for the drama. Thankfully our God has authority over everything, and the Red Bull representatives were happy to work with us. The team performed the drama for a very responsive crowd–the men in this location jumped higher in fear of the dragon than the children from Cinco de Mayo! When speaking to the students after the drama, many decisions were made for Christ. Red Bull has asked Awe Star to bring a team to perform at a soccer match in July, expanding the reach of today’s ministry.

For members of a generation that is searching for honor, truth, and beauty in a world that doesn’t make much sense, the team was able to share the answer.

After three encouraging ministry opportunities on the University of Panama campus, the team crossed the street to a low-income neighborhood. Just outside the entrance, the chief of defense in that area of Panama City happened to run into us! (Once again God’s authority is apparent. Walker has dubbed this man the Lone Ranger.) He led us through the rivers of sour-smelling sewage and between the tightly built shacks to a concrete soccer field/basketball court. With adults peeking out of barred windows and children giggling in groups up close to the action, the team performed the drama. In conversation afterwards, some turned their hearts to God. The team spent another hour playing with the kids and chatting with the adults. Seeds were planted and we look forward to working in this neighborhood in the future. 

Tomorrow the team heads to the rainforest region of Gamboa to build relationships with the people there and encourage the cause of Christ. We will stay in a village called San Antonio and will visit two neighboring villages. Please pray for boldness and tenderness in the hearts of the team, as well as openness and curiosity in the villagers. 

We look forward to updating you upon our return Saturday. 

In awe of God,

Steph and Daniel

 

(Tuesday, June 26)

The New Hope team is back from another day of ministry, smiling and sweaty! 

Back on the market street called Cinco de Mayo, the team weaved through crowds of people to “set the stage” for the drama. The team gathered sizable audiences at each of the day’s six drama sites along the street. With attitudes of worship, the group members shared their faith with boldness.

A man who met the team while we were on Cinco de Mayo a couple days ago had rejected the message of the Gospel, but his heart changed when he saw the drama again today. God opened his eyes and he asked some of the students to pray with him to receive Christ.

Praise God that this man is just one of many who have turned to Jesus today. 

We ask that you keep us in your prayers as we head to the University of Panama in the morning and a poor neighborhood in the afternoon. Pray for malleable hearts in those watching and prayerful focus in the team.

With love,

Steph and Daniel

(Monday, June 24)

Greetings from Panama! The team had an inspiring day of ministry outside the city…

Half an hour from the Casa Blanca (our “home” in Panama City) is a small Kuna community. The shacks there are built along the curves of a mountain with mud trails like veins over the hills. The air was cool, the smell of impending rain suggesting a slippery afternoon. We tromped in a line to the church, a tin roof held up by tree trunks. Women in brightly-colored skirts of the Kuna, Embera, and Wounan cultures brought their young children, who piled onto the wooden benches. A square of linoleum covered the center of the floor, and the pastor of the church was the first to drag a line of orange mud across its surface. He welcomed the team and shared how the Lord had miraculously rescued him from a spinal cord injury. Strumming a guitar, he led the gathering in a few songs of worship, the kind of true worship where language doesn’t impede praise of our King. 

The team performed the drama in the cramped space of the church, but the limited room did not limit God. After the drama, the skies opened and a tremendous storm set in. This storm was a blessing, though. For the next several hours, the team and those from the community huddled together under the tin roof pinging with rain sharing PB&J sandwiches and stories about what God has done in our lives. The team held children in their arms and played games. One of our country contacts, a legend in the villages nicknamed “the man with seven lives,” brought us to tears with his account of God using the death of his daughter for His glory. 

The day was full of heart, and our hearts are full from the day.

Please keep us in your prayers as we head back to Cinco de Mayo for street ministry–for focus and divine encounters.

To God be all the Glory,

Steph and Daniel

Hola, todos!

The New Hope team is happy and healthy, full from the pizza celebration we had in honor of Alex’s birthday!

After practicing the drama this morning, the team headed for bilingual worship at La Comunidad Bible Church. The sermon stressed how we should follow Jesus’s example from Matthew 6, praying for God’s name to be glorified and for His kingdom to come. Our priorities and desires should align with our Savior’s, thus the spreading of the Gospel should be paramount in our lives. 

With this in mind,  the team headed to the market street called Cinco de Mayo to use the drama as a tool for evangelism. A national news camera caught the first drama on film, a large crowd surrounding the team on all sides. Sunday shoppers paused in their tracks during each of the four dramas the team performed today, and the story of God’s great plan was unfolded before hundreds. 

The team members are assigned into small ministry groups so that after the drama they are able to approach those in the audience to discuss the “story you can only see with your heart.” In these ministry groups, the team is able to engage in one-on-one conversation through translators with locals, tourists, people of all backgrounds and ages. As a group prayed with a man who wished to give his life to Christ, the man broke down weeping. Moments like this, in which hearts are truly changed, remind us that it is the transforming power of Jesus driving Christian missions (at home and abroad).

We ask that you be prayer warriors for the team this week. Please pray for:

  • Focus and Depth for the team
  • Open hearts
  • Ears eager for truth

In Christ,

Steph and Daniel

Country Coordinatos

The New Hope team is safe and sound in Panama City, Panama, happy and ready for a good night’s sleep.

While in the city, the team will stay in the Casa Blanca (White House). Tomorrow we look forward to attending the service at La Comunidad Bible Church, then heading out to do ministry on Cinco de Mayo, a market street around the corner from the Casa Blanca.

We’ll do our best to keep the blog updated with stories and pictures about what God is doing through this team in Panama.

Blessings,

Steph and Daniel

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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