One thing that we have always been interested in since our very first days dreaming about the mission field was Muslim ministry.
“All too often, Christians respond to Muslims without the compassion that characterized Jesus. Bridges helps Christians relate to their Muslim neighbors with love and gentle boldness”
Bridges is a 6 week video course that teaches a basic understanding of Islam and its tenets. It also instructs Christians very practically on how to reach out to their Muslim neighbors.
Beginning in August, Mike and I have had the opportunity to facilitate this course both in English and in Spanish.
It is encouraging to see what God is doing to awaken the Latin American churches to the needs of those around them.
While exact statistics are difficult to obtain, it is said that Panama hosts the greatest number of Muslims in Central America. In this relatively small but strategically positioned country, there are 14 mosques and one very large Islamic training center.
We believe building bridges of friendship is one of the first steps to opportunities to share with others about the God we love and serve.
Additionally, next month Panama will host a very well known worker from the underground church in Iran, which is reported to be the fastest growing Christian church in the world. It’s exciting to be part of this movement.
- Strategic ministries here in Panama
- Our national ministry partners
- Continued encouragement and growth in our ESL students
- God to mobilize the church in Panama to show Jesus to their neighbors
- Muslim ministry seminars Sept 14th
- Wisdom and safety and protection for Peggy’s mentee who leaves for a one month vision trip to Jordan Sept 1st
- Successful total knee replacement surgery for Mike Sept 18th
A famous Greek philosopher once said that the only constant in life is change and we have experienced that this is especially true on the mission field.
We joined the RG Panama team in June of 2016 because we thought this was where God was leading us and we felt confident that we could work under the leadership of Jon Fowler, and with the other team members. Now, just three short years later, not one of those people is still on the team!
Earlier this year, the Fowlers felt called to leave RG to serve with the Word of Life Ministry (WOL) here in Panama. In fact, WOL was the Fowler’s original connection to Panama and Jon had been mentored by their local director Mirko. When Mirko died unexpectedly in July of 2017, it created a huge whole for the WOL team. Through a series of events and the calling of God, the Fowlers felt led to switch mission agencies and assume leadership responsibilities with WOL.
We are excited for them and the way we have seen God lead them through this but now it’s our team’s time for a loss of leadership. We are so grateful for how God used the Fowlers to establish this team in Panama in 2014 and are thankful for the healthy team they have built. While we are all personally sad to see them leave our organization, we are glad that they will still be serving in Panama and in reality, all missionaries serve on the same team!
In the meantime, Mike is stepping in as our interim “on the ground” team leader and we have another temporary team leader off site. RG is also working to recruit a more permanent team leader.
We have appreciated the way that all sides have handled this transition and we look forward to all that God has planned for Panama.
It’s good to know, that while these things surprise, and sometimes unsettle us, they are not surprises to God and that He knows the plans He has for us.
- 40 years of marriage celebrated June 2nd
- A good health report for granddaughter Nora
- Successful hernia surgery for Mike June 7th
- A smooth transition of leadership for our team
- God to send more workers into the field, specifically PAAM could use administrative helpers and Conexion Training more teachers
- God to continue to encourage the students as they work hard to learn English and language acquisition skills
- PAAM to be able to move their offices downstairs in Casa PAAM soon.
- Continued physical health and strength for Mike
With great joy we announce to you that PAAM has moved into CASA PAAM, the building that Mike has been helping renovate for the last year. While the construction is not yet complete, PAAM needed to move in according to the terms of the long term lease agreement that they have for the building. And so, mid March brought the relocation of the mission agency’s office to the new place.
The new building/mission training center has three floors. The basement houses the mission agency’s offices, the main floor contains a kitchen, laundry room, and meeting rooms (where Peggy will be teaching English) and the upstairs has bedrooms to provide housing for the students and other missionaries.
Currently, the basement is still under construction, in fact, the tile floors are being laid this week and so the mission agency is being temporarily housed on the main floor, all crammed into one small room.
It’s been quite a transition moving the internet, offices and personnel to the new location. As you can imagine, the whole place has been rather chaotic.
Additionally, two new Conexion Training students arrived in early April and are now living upstairs in CASA PAAM. The girls are delightful and have been so patient with us as we are all just figuring things out in the new building.It is their home for the next 6 months as well as their school, a mission office and a construction zone.
As you can imagine this has also made things more complicated for Mike as he is used to being there working without any interference from people needing to work or study or teach or live there. But we are all just trying to give each other grace and trying to respect the space and needs of each other.
- The relocation of PAAM into CASA PAAM
- His goodness and love to us in the cross and resurrection
- Gospel minded national partners, like PAAM
- Smooth transitions at CASA PAAM
- The new students as they work hard to learn English and language acquisition skills
- God’s provision for the supplies and materials to complete the remodeling at CASA PAAM
- Continued physical health and strength for Mike
- God to heal our granddaughter Nora’s asthma
While February is the shortest month of the year… to us it seemed to have lasted about 40 days! It was a whirlwind of teams and activities as you can see in the following video.
We are so grateful for God’s goodness to us in His provision of help from the body of Christ. We received two work teams from Wheaton and a medical missions team from Missouri. As missionaries living outside the US, there is almost nothing like receiving visitors from home.
We did a lot of work, had a lot of fun, shared meals, laughter and memories as well as blessed our local partnerships.
Thank you to all of you who came, who gave, or who prayed for those coming to serve with us. We can’t say thank you enough. You encouraged our hearts and made the work that much sweeter to be doing it with friends. Ecclesiastes 4:9 – Two people are better than one because together they have a good reward for their hard work.
- The huge encouragement, help and support of the February work teams.
- The safety of the teams, especially those on tall ladders at Casa PAAM.
- The end of the first year of ESL teaching for Peggy. Her last students left at the end of February.
- You, our partners, who provide for us to be here.
As 2018 ended we:
Spent Thanksgiving with our families in Wheaton and then in Colorado. It was great to be there with all the family without the hecticness of the Christmas season. We took some nice hikes, spent time the grandkid’s schools and sporting events, hunted for mice at one kid’s house, had a great Thanksgiving meal together and even saw some early Christmas decorations.
Then we were back to work in Panama for the rest of the year. The end of November brought the conclusion of the second trimester of Conexion Training (ESL & SLA) for Peggy and we said good bye to several of our students who are heading to serve in Afghanistan, Korea, Egypt and Kenya.
English classes continued for the rest of the students throughout December and we had many fun moments making gingerbread houses, singing Christmas carols and learning the Christmas story in English. It was the first time any of them had ever made a gingerbread house and while they didn’t turn out amazing, we had a lot of fun making them together.
Mike continued his construction work at Casa PAAM and Juntos Podemos. His one daily helper left for the States so he works most days by himself at Casa PAAM with occasional help from our teammate Matt and his son Ian and Peggy’s student Fernando, but it is amazing the work that they get done. *faces blurred intentionally
Early December we welcomed a new teammate, 26 yr. old Sarah K, from Pittsburgh. Her first days were spent apartment and car shopping and she found a lovely furnished apartment right down the street from us and a great used car. She is transitioning well to Panama and will begin language school next week.
It was a tropical Christmas season for us here in Panama, a little weird but not bad. We took a day trip to an island with our teammates, went to a local cantada (singing program) and celebrated Christmas Eve dinner together as a team. Mike and I spent a quiet Christmas; taking a bike ride, talking to family back home and opening a jar of blessings that we had written down that we had received throughout the year. It was a special time remembering God’s goodness to us in 2018.
2019 is off to a good start…
We are both back at work, teaching and carpentering (a new word, thanks Jer).
We had our annual Reach Global Panama team retreat where we reflected on the year past, set goals for the future and enjoyed each other’s company. Our team now has 5 units; 15 people in all including children but not pets! We are excited and encouraged to see where God will lead this relatively new team that was just established in 2014. For now, we are doing church planting/revitalizing, child sponsorship program, pastor’s network and training programs, mobilizing Latino missionaries and construction help through the outreaches of the local church. God is at work and it’s our privilege to be part of it all.
For a recap of August and September’s activities, click on the link below.
There are things in this world that no human being should be able to endure. We should die of heartbreak, but we do not. Instead we are forced to survive, to bear witness. “The Good Father”
In light of the coming anniversary of Missy’s death, I need to bear witness to the goodness of God, to the security of His love and to His sovereign control over every detail of each of our lives. He has been so good to us. He has been our rock and our strength, our comfort and His joy.
The following is just a little excerpt of one of my recent prayer times. I am sharing with you all to testify that God doesn’t make mistakes and that He is able. He speaks so sweetly to us during our times of sorrow.
In such a real way, I am more alive now than ever before because you have walked so intimately with me. You have put your healing touch on my broken and wounded heart. You have held me so close to your chest. You have carried me when I could not walk. You have molded, with your own hands, my broken heart back together.
I am so so grateful for the promise that Missy fully knows now. You have healed her every wrong thought. She is free and understands how fully loved she is by you and was by so many of us whose lives she touched here on earth.
You didn’t let her down Lord, you saw each tortured thought she had, and you allowed her to endure such pain, whether from her own sin or just from living in a broken world. Perhaps this was the extra light and joy that she had and exuded to all of us; the sweet intimacy she shared with you for so many years in her pain. You saw how she suffered and you could have corrected it all but you didn’t God. You allowed her to suffer, this was part of your plan for her life and then you brought her home. You numbered her days before there was even one of them. You knew we would only have her for 35 years.
You knew she wouldn’t be a lifetime wife for Paul or a lifetime mom for Hannah and Amelia and yet you gave her to them and them to her for the limited time she had with them. You don’t make mistakes Lord. She was that burst of love that they had for such a short time but God I trust it was purposeful according to YOUR plan. To me, it’s awful and my heart breaks for them without her, but I will keep trusting you God. Please help them see their lives blessed because of the time they shared with her instead of forever destroyed by the loss of her. In you alone Lord there is reparation and healing. I trust you to be their healer, you know and love them all even more than me.
Thank you my sweet, sweet Father and lover of my soul for the contentment of resting in you and of seeing life from your point of view, for living each moment in the joy of your presence.
Lastly, I would like to say to all of you, live each day to the fullest. God wants us to live an abundant life each day. We have no earthly guarantees, today might be your last. So laugh, and love and share His love. Enjoy the people God has put in your life today. These relationships are purposeful. Do not let the enemy of your soul steal your joy. Christ died to gain victory over the power of the enemy and of death, so let’s live as overcomers and show the world the wonders of the amazing God we serve.
As Missy did, let’s live for His glory alone!
The months of June and July hosted the FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament in Russia. Being the Americans that Mike and I are, that didn’t really mean too much to us as we have never been big soccer fans. However soon discovered how important this tournament was to our host country and to its people.
Panama qualified for the FIRST TIME EVER in its history to be part of this competition. The excitement and patriotism were palpable here as the people were SO proud to be represented in Russia. There were signs and flags everywhere, saying Go Panama, We’re heading to Russia etc.
Well, our team went and lost all three of the games they played in but we learned some intriguing lessons as we watched the Panamanians throughout this process.
For example, in game 2, even though they were losing 6-0 and it was very late in the game, the Panamanians couldn’t contain their joy and exuberance when they scored their first ever world cup goal!
- look for the joy in all things
- don’t be overwhelmed by difficult circumstances
- celebrate victories
- never give up
The Panamanians came home apparent losers according to statistics but they felt like winners just to have been part of the competition and to have scored a total of 2 goals.
The World Cup served to remind us as global Christians :
- First of all, to be aware of all that is happening around the world.
- There are crisis’ all around us, in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria, in your family, neighborhood, town, etc.
- There are people that God has made and loves suffering all around us, let us not fail to help where we can and to be mindful and prayerful of them.
Let us not be overcome by the seemingly incomparable odds often stacked against us, let us hold firm to the truth and live in the victory, day by day!
- The progress of Peggy’s work with the ESL and SLA classes
- Mike’s continuing work at Casa PAAM
- A week of rest for us in Florida with Peggy’s sister and brother in law in early July
- The gift that each day is to us and the opportunity to participate in Kingdom work
- A greater awareness for all of us of others who are suffering, both near and far, especially these days in Nicaragua, Venezuela, worldwide refugees etc.
- Help for Greece due to recent wild fires that resulted in the loss of many lives and property, followed by flash flooding.
- Continued healing for all our family
- Additional ESL teachers for the Conexion Training program here in Panama
We just have to share this GREAT news.
A week ago we asked for prayer for our niece Emily and her family as her husband Clay was scheduled for surgery to remove a brain tumor on June 1st.
Well amazingly enough, God stepped in and responded in an amazing way!
Emily and Clay had flown to Seattle to have the operation and as Clay was in the operating room, where they were preparing for surgery and beginning to administer general anesthesia, the surgeon came in after seeing the latest brain imagining and declared that there was NO tumor in Clay’s brain. Accordingly the entire operating room stood still, they had never seen anything like this before. Isn’t this so like our amazing God?!
Thank you so so much for your prayers for them and for being part of this miracle with us. We are praising our miracle working God who is always able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20.
To God be the glory, forever and ever amen.
You can read more details Clay’s caring bridge page.