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Panama 35-Day 2015

Good evening from Dallas!

After a long day of travel, we are back in the United States! Praise the Lord for how smoothly it went and the witnessing opportunities that were given.

We start debriefing tomorrow. We will learn how to share our stories and assimilate back home. Please be praying for strength and focus so we share with you all the more clearly. Thank you, dear ones!  We are so humbled by how mightily the Lord moved this summer!

By His Grace,

Craig and Meridith

CCs

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Hello from our last day in Panama!

After getting a great night’s rest, we headed up to Cerro Ancon, the highest point in Panama City. Once we reached the peak, we were in awe of the Lord’s beauty in creation. We praised and thanked God for all He has done in this nation this summer. We came together hand in hand and prayed. What a special time for our team!

We shopped for souvenirs today and shared in sweet fellowship. At the traditional market, one of our students ran into a woman he met and led to the Lord last year. They had an incredible time catching up. And she is still following the Lord with her whole heart! Oh how the Lord blesses through encounters like that!

We will be flying back to the good ole US of A tomorrow and we cannot wait to share the mighty things the Lord has done! Please be praying for safe travels, people of peace along the way, for strength, continued health, and Jesus’ ministry to be furthered. Yours prayers, support, and love mean ever so much. We look forward to talking with and seeing you soon!

Humbled are we,

Craig and Meridith

CCs

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This morning began with the men serving the ladies breakfast with a personalized note. The girls were so affirmed! We spent the majority of the day cleaning hammocks, water tanks, coolers, and life jackets from all the uses this summer. It’s always exciting to think about how God will use those things next summer as well! We are so thankful for our team who is always willing and ready to lend a helping and serving hand.

After a tasty dinner, we finished our team affirmations. So thankful for all the love! We then transitioned into our last Man Up and Reign On sessions. We are so grateful for how the Lord has grown us together by true fellowship of godly men and women, brothers and sisters in Christ. And then Craig and I were utterly surprised by tonight’s finale when our wonderful TDs and team threw us each a bachelorette and bachelor party. It was the best surprise! And it was all closed out by the team praying over and for us. We praise Jesus for this team and the love they pour out onto this nation, each other, and us.

Please pray for divine encounters tomorrow as we head out to shop, furthered unity, continued health, and clarity in how to tell our stories. We truly cannot wait to share and declare His mighty deeds!

Through His gracious and unending love,

Craig and Meridith

CCs

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What a wonderful last day of drama ministry! We started this morning off with a delicious breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. We then headed to La Communidad Bible Church. Oh how blessed we were by that sweet time of worship!

After lunch we headed out to Old Town Panama City. We set up in a plaza that overlooked the ocean and beautiful city coastline. We worshiped and prayed, beseeching the Lord to move through us through the drama one last time this summer. And oh, how He answered! He even an opened another door to go out in our ministry teams and share the Gospel. One group met up with a woman on a bench. She said she knew the only way for her to go to heaven was to do good works. Our group was able to share with her God’s incredible gift of grace and eternal salvation. And she gave her heart to Jesus!

After dinner this evening, we began our time of team affirmations. What a blessing to hear our team’s love and encouragement for one another! We finished the evening with a celebration of two of our lovely students’ birthdays over ice cream sundaes. A blast was had by all!

We praise God for this day and His faithfulness to us. We couldn’t have asked for a better last day of drama ministry. Even though we are finished with drama ministry, Jesus’ ministry continues. We know that this isn’t just a journey to Panama for 35 days. This journey goes on. We thank you for joining us in this journey. We praise the Lord for such an awesome support team back at home. We ask for prayers for endurance with all we are wrapping up here in Panama, furthered team bonding and unity, continued health, and for open eyes for the journey ahead full of Jesus’ ministry. We want to love the Gospel more as we want the people of Panama to love the Gospel. Praying that the Gospel would be made all the more known.We so look forward to sharing the incredible things the Lord has done and is doing, Soon and very soon we all will be united! But until then, we continue on in His work here. All for His glory!

Because of the Gospel,

Craig and Meridith

CCs

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Hello friends and family!

We have had a productive day of ministry here in Panama City! And it was a day we had to fight for. The enemy was hard at work to stop the spread of the Gospel, but he cannot prevail!

We began the day with a drive back from Chepo to Panama` City.  This is a relatively short drive—only about an hour. We rested a little bit more and then had some lunch here at the White House.

After lunch is when the struggle began. We had no translators available to go with us and help us minister. But, in faith, we left anyway. As we headed to the region of the city where we were going to minister, we were supposed to have a translator meet us there. But as we got on the subway, our subway pass stopped working and we had to get a new one. When we finally made it to Villa Spana (the ministry area today), our translator was not there. Not willing to give up on ministry, the team walked to a nearby park and began to prayerwalk. We prayed that God would move in the area and that He would draw crowds to Himself. A rain shower earlier that day had sent most people inside. But God is powerful enough to draw a crowd anywhere.

After a few minutes of prayerwalking, our translator finally did find us. Suddenly we had a much greater opportunity to minister, so we walked back to the subway station and performed the drama right in front of the exit so that as people left the station, they would see and hear the Gospel.  Here is where God began to work all our frustrations for His glory. As we began the drama, there was not much of a crowd. However, it did not take long for people to begin to stop and see. We even had a film crew stop and film our performance for a video blog they run. They were filming some of the daily happenings around Panama City and wanted to include us! The crew got to hear the Gospel. They did not respond in faith, but we trust that seeds were planted, and we trust that more seeds may be planted by our inclusion in their blog! Praise the Lord! But there were more people than just this crew there, and we saw three people have their lives changed forever by giving their hearts to the Lord at this site. In our disappointments, God had Divine Appointments just waiting for us!

As we wrapped up at that site, we began to walk towards La Communidad Bible Church for a party they were throwing this evening for those people who saw the drama and gave their hearts to the Lord. Our plan was to walk to the church, performing one more drama along the way. We did stop at the next subway station down the line and performed at the exit, just like at the last site. This time, not as many people stopped to see and hear the Gospel. But there were three police officers acting as security guards for that section of the city, and all three of them came to know the Lord. All glory to Him! Not only did they receive salvation, but we also met our new friend Kenny at this site. Kenny has just moved to the city, and he was looking for a church home. So after the drama, Kenny continued with us on our walk to the party we were having at La Communidad tonight! How cool is that!? So Kenny joined us along with seven or eight others who heard the Gospel through Awe Star and came for dinner and fellowship at La Communidad.

Today was full of strange disappointments, but our God is powerful and sovereign, and He used those disappointments to bring several people into a new relationship with Him. And He brought another possibly into a relationship with a new Church. We thank the Lord that He works this way, and that He provided us with a translator when we most needed one. Please pray that tomorrow goes so well as it is our last day of drama ministry here in Panama. We know ministry can and will continue, but we will have no more dramas after tomorrow. Pray for cheerful and rejoicing attitudes so that our students can continue to give all they have for the sake of the Gospel.

We love you all, and look forward to sharing even more stories upon our return!

Your CCs,

Craig and Meridith

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Wow! What an incredible time we had in Las Culebras! Yesterday morning we loaded up in to boats and headed up the river. We were greeted by the pastor, Antonio, his family, and many other members of the church. We settled in and explored our new village. Pastor Antonio even showed the students how to get mangos from the trees!

Yesterday afternoon, we split up into two groups for house-to-house ministry. One group traveled by boat and the other by foot. The group that walked by foot traveled to a nearby house for their first stop and got to see the Lord move mightily in the lives of two older women. The group learned about these ladies’ lives and how they grow corn to make a living as well as making trips by boat to a nearby city to sell different odds and ends. They even got a laugh out of these two sisters when they asked which one of them was the oldest. The conversation developed into what these women thought about God. They shared that they believed in Him and that sometimes they would pray, but that they were always faithful to give thanks for the food they had to eat. They then shared about how they know that all we’re here to do is to serve the Lord and do good things, and they also expressed their disliking of the local church because they are liars and don’t live what they preach. The group got to share in-depth the truth of God’s grace and that they cannot please God by doing good things but only by the righteousness of Jesus. Their eyes and hearts were opened to truth and they understood that they needed and wanted a relationship with God through Jesus to truly please Him and gain eternal life. The Lord then prompted the group to encourage them to use their testimony to reach even the people within the church and to start a women’s Bible study for the village. The genuineness of these women’s hearts was further confirmed when they came to the church service that night held at the same church they had just told the team that they didn’t like. The team was so encouraged to see the Lord’s hand throughout these women’s lives leading them to a saving knowledge of Himself, and we all have great confidence that He is going to use them in mighty ways in that village!

The group that traveled by boat first went and visited an 82-year-old man, Roberto, and his wife. Roberto had a stroke a couple weeks ago, and Pastor Antonio has been ministering to him and his wife. We were able to pour into and pray with them.  We then traveled to a farm where we were able to engage in new ways. The farm owner, Alejandro, asked us to be manual lawn-mowers and also to clean his kitchen. We jumped to serve, and we had so much fun. Alejandro expressed his thankfulness and told us how since his wife passed away, it’s been hard to keep working on the farm and being a single father. We encouraged and prayed for him and his daughters. It was such a blessing to engage with them and help them where they were.

After dinner, we all came together in the church and worshiped with song , drum, and tambourine. After some testimonies, we presented the drama. It was a great time of fellowship with our Panamanian brothers and sisters!

This morning we all got on boats and headed to the community school. Once we arrived, we hiked through muddy roads and arrived at the school with a bunch of joyful children. We watched them play musical chairs and danced around the classrooms with them. After the drama, one ministry team had the opportunity to talk to the teachers of that school, and another ministry team talked with the students.  The seeds were planted for that school, and we have hope in the Lord for Him to continue moving in that community!

We will post pictures soon. Please pray for healthy bodies, , continued unity, and motivation to finish these last few days strong!

Your Leadership Team,

Craig, Meridith, Jordan, and Becca

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Good evening from Chepo!

Today was our last day of drama ministry here in Chepo, and oh, how the Lord moved! We began the day with a wholesome breakfast and then took a bus to the center of Chepo, where we had the opportunity to share the Gospel at the central fire station. This was such an incredible site! Surrounded by fire trucks and ambulances, the team performed the drama for a group of firemen and women. We were praying against any fires in the area, because we wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but also because we longed for the group to be able to stay and hear the Gospel without interruption. After the drama, one of our students gave a powerful net, beckoning the audience to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus. Immediately our students were up and sharing in their ministry teams. One student shared with a group of about four firefighters, some of whom were Catholic. This student patiently shared what it means to truly have a relationship with God, and to have the peaceful assurance of salvation that comes through faith and not works. After their conversation, the whole group wanted to pray, repenting and trusting in Jesus for forgiveness of sins. The Gospel is the power unto salvation! These men and women protect their countrymen from worldly fires, but today, Jesus saved them all from eternal fire.

In the afternoon, the team returned to the church where we are staying, and we read and talked through Ephesians. We focused together on the eternal story that God is weaving together through Jesus Christ. Ephesians tells us that we were chosen before the foundation of the world for adoption and are destined to enjoy the blessings of God’s glorious grace forever. This is the eternal story we take part in day by day.

Just before dinner, we walked a short distance to a park where people in the neighborhood gather to play soccer. Though the crowd was small when we began, as the drama progressed, the crowd grew and grew. There was even a group of men there who put their soccer game on hold so we could perform the drama on the field. One ministry team went to a house across from the park to share with a family who watched the drama from their porch. As they approached, it appeared that the woman was hurrying to get inside before they could reach her. But as they got closer, they realized that she was only putting the family’s dog away. She wanted no distractions as these students brought her the Gospel of life in Jesus. And she believed this very Gospel today! It was an awesome opportunity to put to practice what we had just learned from Ephesians, that we should be overjoyed with every salvation, because God is working an eternal miracle when he saves souls.

We wrapped up the night with some MOM and POP time and a birthday celebration thrown by the local church for Tess, whose birthday is Sunday. They treated the team with cake, gave us all personalized pens, and gave Tess a couple of other special gifts just for her!

Please pray for us as we travel by boat to Las Culebras tomorrow morning. This is a small village up the river from Icandi, where we ministered on Saturday. We will serve in Las Culebras tomorrow and Friday morning. This means we will not be able to update tomorrow, but look for more from us on Friday. Please pray for safe travels and joyful hearts as we travel by bus and boat many miles to share the glorious Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus!

Your CCs,

Craig and Meridith

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Today we had the great privilege to perform the drama for a school in a small community outside of Chepo. The team had a great time playing soccer, dancing, and getting the chance to learn some Spanish as they spoke with the students. At the school we saw a rare sight – another gringo! This was a young lady by the name of Theresa who had just begun her two-year service through the Peace Corps. She actually just so happened to be from Oklahoma City and had just graduated from OU. We got to share with her about the ministry that we were doing throughout Panama. She was excited about the work we are doing but wasn’t open to the Gospel. We ask that you join us in praying for Theresa as she serves this school and community.

The most exciting part of today was when the team got to travel from house to house, visiting with people about their lives and sharing the truth of the Gospel. Every student came back so excited and encouraged by the conversations they had with the people of Panama. They all returned with awesome testimonies of encouragement from the locals and of opportunities they had to pour into these people. One story from the house-to-house ministry was of an awesome divine encounter as well as a powerful display that language is not a barrier for God or us. One of the groups walked up with confidence and boldness to a house where two people were hanging out. They began explaining the Gospel with broken Spanish and the help of a ministry card in Spanish. By the end of their conversation, these two people were crying because they realized their brokenness and their need for Jesus. One student got to pray with them as they chose to forsake their old life and follow Jesus. How great is our God!

We are expectant for the ministry that is to be done throughout this week and we have total confidence that the Lord will work! Please continue to pray for boldness for our students and willing hearts to serve whomever and whenever. Our time here in Panama is growing short, and so we pray for focus and that God’s will would be done here through this team. Thank you so much for all of your prayers and encouraging comments!

Unashamed,

Your Team Directors,

Jordan and Becca

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Hello dear ones! What a blessed day we had doing Jesus’ ministry in Chepo today. This morning we presented the Gospel through the drama under a gazebo in a plaza in the heart of Chepo. And oh how we praise Jesus for two people who responded and gave their hearts to Jesus! And then the rain came. We went over to the Catholic church. We went in and sat in the pews. Prayers and songs of worship were raised. It was truly beautiful!

The rain increased and extended throughout the rest of the day. And so we took time away from the rain to come together as a team. We shared our in-depth testimonies, hopes for the future, and how we needed to be prayed for. The team grew in unity in a great way today! We feel all the more close to each other and ready to love Panama all the more. After a delicious dinner of spaghetti, Craig taught the team on the cross. We dove into the Word together and are still in awe of who God is. There is a sense of utter gratefulness and close down for the night. We are all so grateful for the cross and its power, for each other, and for this nation in which we have the privilege of serving.

Please continue to pray for our hearts to be knit even closer together, continued health, fervency for ministry, deeper relationships with Christ, and divine encounters. We are so blessed by all of your love, support, and prayers. Please know we need and appreciate you all! And that we cannot wait to share more stories of the great things God has done and is doing in Panama!

Because of the Cross,

Craig and Meridith,

CCs

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Greetings from Chepo!

It has been an eventful day and a half here in Chepo, a small suburb of Panama City. We left the White House yesterday morning and drove straight to the church with which we will be working while we are here. After dropping off our things, we left for the lake, where we traveled an hour and a half by boat to visit the village of Icandi. If you are friends with Walker Moore on Facebook, you may have seen that this rather large village recently burned totally to the ground. AweStar has worked in this village over many years, and even had a hut built specifically for us. This hut was unfortunately among the many which burned down.

We were able to accompany some members from La Comunidad Bible Church with many donations like food and building supplies for the village. Once there, some of our women shared their testimonies with the women of the village while the rest of the team entertained the children. Then, we were able to share the drama, and more importantly the Gospel, with the women at the meeting—and we shared it in Kuna, the language of the people! This was an incredible opportunity because the women of Icandi run the whole village. Afterwards, we shared the Gospel on a basketball court with close to a hundred children. They were so excited to see us, and after the drama, they spent over an hour hanging from our students’ arms and legs and romping around on our students’ shoulders.

This morning, we have already shared in a service with the local church. Craig preached a sermon and we performed the drama for the congregation. Many in the congregation will accompany us later today as we go out to minister in the community.

Please pray for continued good health and hydrated students, and that the joy of the Lord would be the strength that propels us through this day! We are glad to share these stories with you, and we look forward to sharing many more in the weeks to come!

By His grace alone,

Craig and Meridith

CCs