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Panama 14 day 2017

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Last night, our young men and women poured into one another by encouraging one another.  Part of what happens on Awe Star trips is being intentional in teaching on what it means to be a man of God and a woman of God.

To start off the evening, our young men and young women went out to dinner separately.  Our young men chose pizza (are you surprised?) and our young women chose Crepes and Waffles in Panama City.  This gave them some quality time and allowed them to talk through the rest of the evening.

To make this time even more special, on the way back to our lodging, one of our teams led a taxi driver and his girlfriend to Christ!!  It was a divine appointment.  It’s encouraging to see our team continue to do Jesus ministry even in the taxi! Gloria a Dios!

Throughout the week, our men have been combing through Proverbs 31 and identifying which characteristics describe the young women in our group.  This group of men spent hours praying and observing what characteristics our young ladies had.  Last night, our young men shared three characteristics from Proverbs 31 that they see in each woman. Our young ladies also received throughout the week a charm bracelet and various charms that characterize them.

Our young ladies spent time this week trying to find out each young man’s “grunt language.” What do they like?  What do they like to spend their time on?  Through this exercise, they found avenues to encourage them and to observe what godly characteristics our young men have. At the beginning of the week, our young men were each given a dog tag with the words “Man Up” to serve as a reminder to be godly men.

It was an amazing evening hearing the testimonies as these students poured into one another.  Our TDs, Zach and Mya, closed out the evening by encouraging each person on the team.

Romans 12:10 was evident tonight on our team: “Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring one another.”  We believe that young adults can have godly relationships, and this was a great exercise for them!

We can’t believe the week is almost over.  A couple of things we know: the Kingdom has grown this week and our young men and women were discipled.  Not only is this a great way for our students to share their faith, but they will go home having been with Jesus, and that has been our prayer from the very beginning–that just as it was with Peter and John, it would be the same with our team–that people would recognize that they are unschooled, ordinary people, yet people would take note that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

What a mighty God we serve, and what an incredible team we serve!

 

Mike and Sarah, Country Coordinators

Zach and Mya, Team Directors

 

 

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Just a quick update on our amazing journey to the jungle–attached are the pictures.  Each picture tells the incredible story of a journey of ordinary young adults who answered the call of Jesus to the people of Wagandi.  Check out yesterday’s post on what happened in Wagandi!

Thank you again for your prayers and support! Pray for our last day of ministry here in Panama City today on Cinco de Mayo.  Pray for continued strength and for people to come to know Christ.

Mike and Sarah, Country Coordinators

Zach and Mya, Team Directors

Gloria a Dios!

Salvation has come to Wagandi!  The spiritual warfare in this community is great, but the gospel is being advanced through our team and the church here.

It has been surreal being here in the jungle–sleeping in hammocks, viewing God’s creation and witnessing  new life!

Many kids were saved today in a school called Escuela Quabadra Cali.  The sun beat down on our students, but it didn’t stop them from giving their all.  It’s been amazing to witness students who have shared the gospel for the first time and seen people surrender to Jesus!

Our afternoon consisted of traveling to an Embura community where we swam, performed baptisms and shared the gospel through the drama, “Freedom.”

It was an amazing sight to see one of the students on our team get baptized along with a young man from Wagandi!  To think we got to witness these baptisms in the jungle was quite memorable. 

To close the evening, we joined the church for worship, where three adults from the community surrendered their lives to Christ. Amazing!

Gloria a Dios! This is all we know to say in response to how God is so good! We are thankful and rejoice with our new brothers and sisters to Christ.

This morning, we head back to Panama City where we will continue Jesus ministry.  We will finish our focus on our Man Up/Reign on series today.  Pray for us as we travel.  Pray for the new believers as the church follows up with each person.  Pray for our team to finish strong these last two days before heading home on Saturday!

Mike and Sarah, Country Coordinators

Zach and Mya, Team Directors

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“Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” (Matt. 18:20).

As we pack up our bus this morning for our trip to the jungle, we are incredibly blessed by the events that took place yesterday.

We started off yesterday morning with a bus ride to the school of San Miguelito where one of the members of Bethel Church is a teacher  and invited us to perform. We had the incredible opportunity to present the drama to three groups of children. Each audience consisted of around 40-50 kids, all intensely watching as the story of Jesus Christ was told before their eyes. Our team was encouraged by the little giggles, gasps and cheers of our first- and second-grade amigos. We had the opportunity to share the gospel even further with the children at the conclusion of the drama by gathering smaller groups around and telling the story more in-depth and in a way young children could understand. The students were thrilled to experience how the gospel can still be communicated without spoken words, but instead with hand signs and pictures. The language barrier was no match for the truth of God! We were able to minister to over 150 children, with close to 75 of them receiving Christ into their lives for the first time.

Pastor Benjamin, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, then accompanied us to our second drama site of the day. We arrived in the midst of a busy outdoor mall, with fruit and vegetable stands lining the streets and people in and out of stores. As we began the drama, our audience of a few turned into an audience of many. This site was a great encouragement to us as our students encountered many Christians who praised us for being willing witnesses to the people of Panama. One group of students had a local fruit vendor pray over them and encouraged them to continue with sharing the gospel around the world.

We finished off the day with worship led by our students and a discussion of love languages. Worshipping together and spending time in fellowship learning more about each other was time well spent as we prepare for our trip to the jungle.

Please pray for our team’s safety as we travel today from Panama City to Wagandi and as we minister to the Kuna people. (We most likely will not have internet connection there, so we will give you an update on Thursday.)

Your Panama 14-Day Leadership,

Mike and Sarah, Country Coordinators

Zach and Mya, Team Directors

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Yesterday in church, we sang a song that said, “What a friend we have in Jesus.” I believe this was the statement of the day. It’s important to remember that Jesus already knows our needs and will take care of them in his timing.

To start off the day, we had morning worship and heard an amazing teaching from Sarah about putting on our armor of God. Both of these elements were much-needed. They prepared us for our day and prepared us to fight against the darkness and the thoughts Satan puts in our head to tear the team apart. Today we walked with confidence in Christ. Nothing could stop us because we could feel the presence of God all day long.

Our many destinations yesterday started with the “Iglesia Bautista Bethel” (Bethel Baptist Church). We were welcomed the moment we walked through the doors. We had the opportunity to experience sharing time in worship with our brothers and sister in Christ. We tried to sing in Spanish and most likely failed to pronounce anything right, but that didn’t hinder what the Holy Spirit had planned for that service. We sang with hearts open and big smiles on our faces. The students were pumped about performing the drama to this church that had shown us already the love they had for Christ. The faces of the children changed from fear of the dragon to sadness as Jesus was crucified and finally to happiness when they realized the free gift Jesus offers us. Yes, we were performing in front of the church, but we still wanted to share the net (explaining the drama and giving an invitation). As we asked if anyone accepted Christ during the prayer, it was quiet for a moment, and then something great happened. A little hand slowly began to rise. Clapping filled the room as a young boy walked to the front and said he wanted to be saved. Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! His love and sacrifice doesn’t compare to any other friend we have here on earth.

We loaded the bus, and the pastor of the church took us to another place in the community to do a drama. As it has been raining the past couple of days, the sun had finally decided to come out. The heat was pressing down on us, but our team still managed to have smiles on their faces. By the end of this drama, the team’s excitement to do Jesus ministry doubled. We had around 25 salvations at that site. A group of students walked into the car repair shop and led almost all the workers to Christ. Another group walked to the surrounding homes and led families to Christ. And finally, groups got to hear the encouragement from other people who already believed in God. As Christians, we see that God always seems to put others who have a friend named Jesus in our path to encourage us in our walk of faith.

The next drama was performed at a children’s park. The students went out and invited everyone they could find. As time passed, only about three people had come to watch, but still, the students were eager to perform. This reminds me of a story in the Bible that we all know. Now, before you wonder what this story has to do with the drama, let me explain. In Matthew 14, in the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, the people were eager to hear what Jesus had to say, but they had a problem: They were hungry. This is when a miracle happened. A boy only had five loaves of bread and two fish, but Jesus did not let this hinder His ministry. Instead, He multiplied all the food because the people were faithful. The drama may have started with only three people watching, but by the end, we had around 30 people. I believe God multiplied our crowd because our team was faithful in staying to perform for the three. What a friend we have in Jesus!

Our final drama was presented in a family -friendly central park right by the ocean. The beautiful pictures were a plus, but all the salvations that came from that site were a bigger plus. As we pulled in for the biggest crowd of the day, all eyes were on us. After the drama ended, it seemed as through we needed more ministry teams to help share the gospel because of the size of the crowd. As each ministry team got to lead families, kids, the snow cone salesman and teenagers to Christ, the joy on all everyone’s faces brightened up the whole park. A lady even said, “I can’t believe you guys traveled this far to share the Word of God with us.” This compliment says a lot. It was a great reminder to this team that what they are doing does not go unnoticed.

Yesterday ended in an hour of true worship. What is better than starting and ending the day in worship, and everything in between, Jesus ministry? Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! His love is not comparable to anything and His mercy is greater than everything.
Thank you for praying for us. Please pray for our team to grow closer to one another and to Jesus. Today, we will be going to two schools to perform the drama, “Freedom.”  On Tuesday, we head to the jungle, and our students are excited to see what awaits and the divine appointments they will encounter.

Your Panama 14 Day Leadership Team,

Mike and Sarah, Country Coordinators
Zach and Mya, Team Directors

*We have limited internet access and are trying to get new pictures up as soon as possible. To get text updates as to when they are ready or any other news related to the Panama 14-day team, text PAN14 to 84483.

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It’s a good morning!  As we sit here eating our Sunday breakfast, we can’t help but reflect on the day before and God’s goodness toward us.  We had an early start to our ministry; we climbed onto the bus, then headed to Colon, a city which is an hour and a half away.  We used our bus time purposefully by seating each young man by one of the young ladies.  Each lady then had the task of discovering the “grunt language” (something he has a special interest in) of the young man sitting next to her. We heard lots of laughter as questions were asked to our men.

 Our bus reached its first destination, a small community named Ibeorgun, where Pastor Morris, who rode the bus with us, ministers.  Our eyes were drawn to the cinder block homes topped with rusty tin roofs.  Each home’s clothesline displayed their colorful garments while through glassless windows, multiple faces with deep brown eyes peered out.  We quickly departed the bus and invited the locals to join us in the open pavilion.  At first, the people were apprehensive, unsure if they should trust their hearts that were telling them to go.  Then it happened.  First three little boys, then a Kuna (one of the people groups in Panama) mom and her two girls, and soon the concrete floor of the pavilion was full of little bodies while the parents sat on the concrete ledge that lined the pavilion.  Our drama was performed and the gospel shared.  What a beautiful sight, as groups of children gathered around our students, eager to hear the good news. Moms and dads also eagerly listened, and several said yes to Jesus!  As we walked the muddy path back to our bus, the families of the community walked alongside us, tugging at our heartstrings even a little more for Inbeorgun.

A short drive away, we made our second stop at Good Samaritan Church, which is led by Pastor Morris.   We shared a meal together of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with those who were waiting for us in the dirt- floored building.  After our lunch, we were invited to present the drama to those who are a part of the church, and then we went out into their community.  The church members walked beside us, then helped us gather their neighbors to watch our performance.   The crowd was filled with men, women, and many children along with two police officers.  After our drama was performed, our students went out to personally invite those in the audience to Jesus.  Many accepted the invitation, including the two police officers!  It was time to leave and again as we walked the puddle-filled gravel road, our new friends walked alongside us, hugging us good-bye, taking our pictures  and making our boarding of the bus bittersweet.

We were able to perform the drama one last time in the downtown area of Colon.  Here we found a large grocery store, and after a bit of convincing, the manager of the store granted us permission to perform the drama in her parking lot.  The audience was not as large, but those who entered and exited the store had seeds planted in their hearts, and we know God will be able to make the seeds grow.

We boarded the bus for the hour and a half drive back to our missionary home.  Hearts were full, our group was knit closer together, and affirmations toward each other began to pour out of our mouths.  

We are so grateful that God has allowed us to have this experience.  Just as Paul says in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.”  That desire is happening right now in our lives and the lives of your students!

Your Panama 14-Day Leadership,

 

Mike and Sarah Lehew

Zach Hamilton and Mya Hudgins

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The last 48 hours have been a wonderful whirlwind.  From bus to plane to plane to bus, in our seventeen hours of travel, God provided smooth sailing, leading to a bountiful day of Jesus ministry.

Eagerly we awoke, ate our scrumptious breakfast made with love by Azalea, our Panamanian cook.  Then, we spent time preparing our hearts for ministry.  By foot we traveled to the streets of Panama City where we soon found ourselves on a street named Cinco de Mayo.

The busy street was lined with countless store fronts which included a mixture of mom and pop stores and chain restaurants.  Many of those working came out of their shops to watch the drama and many came to know Christ. What a privilege it was to see our ministry teams of young men and young women proclaim Christ.

One young lady on our teams eyes were filled with tears as she shared the Gospel.  The moment had finally arrived for her to do what God called her to do here in Panama. 

We performed the drama five times and our final drama was performed at a park that had a scandalous reputation.  The unwanted and broken resided here, but God intervened through ordinary students who pushed back the darkness.  Our students loved on the homeless and gave them Hope.  It was hard for our students to leave and it was hard for the people to let them go as they waved the Gospel tracts as our students left.

Tonight, we started our Man Up and Reign On journey with our young men and women challenging them to rise above the cultural definition of manhood and womanhood to being men and women who love God so much it  determines their present life and future family.  We will share more about this journey as the days progress.

Your Panama 14 Day Leadership,

Mike and Sarah, Country Coordinators

Zach and Mya, Team Directors

 

*we will post pictures today once we have a better internet connection

 

 

We woke up this morning with anticipation in our hearts and butterflies in our stomachs.  Our stateside training has come to an end and soon we will be boarding a jet plane headed to Panama.  Pray for our travels today.

Yesterday, our morning and afternoon had been spent refining our drama.  Our students gave it there all and WOW! We are so proud of them!  We are awaiting the coming days where through this drama our students will encounter divine appointments!

Last night we felt the presence of God in our midst as David Guion led us in the final time our four teams will worship together.  This worship helped put boldness in our team’s hearts to strongly march into Panama to push back the darkness.  What a beautiful sight to behold as our students spontaneously linked arms together across the aisles. There were no division of teams but one large family joining together, praying with each other. This was followed by Peggy Nunley, who gave a powerful message on overcoming strongholds.  Our students listened intently and the Spirit moved!  We ended our time together gathering around our country’s flag.  With arms linked together and tears flowed from many of our team members’ eyes as they sang “Here I am to Worship”  with arms lifted high telling God that He is All.  

“There is no salvation in no one else!  God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.  The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures.  They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:12-13). This is our prayer for our team, that wherever we go we will be recognized as a team that has been with Jesus–through loving and serving the people of Panama and our team.

What a blessing from you all to allow us to spend these next days with your students!  We really do covet your prayers as we travel today and pray for preparation as we start Jesus ministry on Friday in Panama!

Your 14 Day Panama Leadership,

Mike and Sarah, Country Coordinators

Zach and Mya, Team Directors

 

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We sit here in the cafeteria and sounds of laughter fill the room.  It testifies to the power of unity.  It testifies of a greater cause.  It testifies to having a single focus: Jesus.

God is soooo good.

Our team woke up yesterday and spent time in the Word, with Joshua 24:14-15 being our focus, encouraging the students with the reality that serving Jesus is not an impossible task but a delight.  God sustains us so that we might serve Him faithfully and store up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

In our large group, the students learned how to effectively share the gospel and how to engage with the people of Panama.  Afterwards, each of our students took a spiritual gifts test and shared their gift.  The gifts that God has gifted our students with are mercy, faith, exhortation, teaching, discernment, administration, and service.  Our goal is to give students an opportunity to exercise their gifts during the course of the trip and our desire is that they would go home and utilize these gifts to build up the body of Christ.

One of the highlights of our day was an incredible time of fellowship and worship.  One of the principles taught at Awe Star is “Worship makes us stronger.” Worship has the ability to take the weary and restore our spirits.  This really helped continue to build unity with our team as we had the opportunity to pray over one another.

God continues to build confidence through the training of the Freedom drama.  It has been awesome to see the drama pull students out of their shell and grow in confidence.  The team is becoming more like family with every passing moment. 

It’s awesome to watch all the teams come together as one each evening to worship.  There’s nothing like the glorious sound of students worshiping Jesus!  David Guion has helped in a tremendous way preparing our hearts for Panama.  Walker spoke from 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Our students are bombarded daily by the enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy them.  The enemy wants to steal our fruit and destroy our testimony, which is why we must take every thought captive.

To close out our evening, our Team Directors (TDs) shared about logistics with our ministry teams and had an opportunity to continue to bond as a team.  

Continue to pray that God would give strength and energy as they complete drama training today and for us to continue to love and serve one another.  As the days pass and get longer, we as a team will need prayer from our loved ones.  Satan will try to distract us from our goal, but we know that Christ has a great plan for us as a team. 

Your Panama 14-Day Leadership,

Mike and Sarah, Country Coordinators

Zach and Mya, Team Directors