If you have never seen a documentary on the history and building of the Panama Canal you should https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGp_YOxzOaE
It is feats like this that I am amazed at the importance of certain projects throughout history that are so overlooked today. In a similar fashion, the Church often overlooks the importance of certain projects going on with various ministries. Is the effort to plan, start from scratch, do things few others have done, reaching unreached populations and peoples really appreciated? Missions at home has vital importance but it should never turn off our passion and general state of good intention and joy to see those who dare to take risks to serve God in the far away places.
Many have no idea the struggles of living overseas and trying to do something groundbreaking for Christ. The intense spiritual battles, the isolation, being an outsider, cross cultural challenges, language barriers, and for the most part having most of your friends and family not understand or care about what you are doing, especially in the case of those that do not come from strong Christian families. This is why it is vital that we have real partners with Churches and brothers and sisters in Christ that are willing to love and support us in the joys but also the struggles. To have grace, mercy, and compassion for the work that is being done. We have laid everything on the alter of sacrifice for lost souls and to bring God the glory through Jesus Christ. We are so grateful for those that have stuck beside us these years through praises and trials. The scripture Proverbs 17:17 states “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Amen, and how true the wisdom of Solomon is.
“When I look at the Panama Canal I see the same overlooked sacrifices that are so overlooked and taken for granted today. What if a man like John Wycliffe thought life would be just a little easier to not serve God the way he did? Or Martin Luther, or William Tyndale? Read about their lives. Or maybe great men of years past should have just sat at home instead of fighting for the freedom of a new country and the prosperity God blessed us with today. What are we really living for, what is the real purpose of our life and existence on this earth. Oh wretched, selfish, sinful men that we are to often forget what is means to be redeemed by Christ.”
Back to our update in Panama. In our last post we shared about the divine appointment with the ex youth Pastor and also the troubles we had from a former youth Pastor. While we were in Panama we were able to handle some very important documents during this time. A huge issue facing missionaries around the world is visa troubles. You CAN NOT serve in a country long term if you can not legally live in country. Many missionaries we know and served with in China have been deported. Thailand where we served continues to make things extremely difficult for foreigners that want to live and work in the country. However, thanks be to God we had the leading of the Spirit years ago to take the first steps into solving these issues for us in Panama. This trip we were finally able to get our Panama ID cards as we took the steps many years ago to get a permanent residency or what they would call a green card in the USA. What this means is that Lord willing, in any future missions work we have here, we will not have any issues with immigration or visas. Praise God.
During our time in Panama I met frequently with a good brother I work with often who lives there but is from Ecuador. We met with a Pastor we know there and I was able to talk with him about strategic outreach among the Chinese community in Panama. The good news is that he actually knows a brother who has been in the country for more than 20 years and works with the Chinese community. Praise God for this great connection. We are praying that we may be able to work and partner somehow with this brother and at the least learn some valuable information from him about his experience. Our partner from Ecuador, we talked and prayed about many details of any type of future mission there in Panama. A couple things that are big obstacles are learning about the general medical situation and insurance for Panama concerning Darlene, as well as the general ability to support our family on the field.
Either we will have to try to raise enough support from Church partners to help us get started or we will have limited support and possibly have to go bi-vocational perhaps by finding a teaching job in country. That would only be an option after we finish our Master’s degree in Education at Liberty University. Our original plan was to finish this year but we found out that the next class we need to take is not available again to take until the new year. Lord willing we can take those back to back and get our degree by the end of spring 2020. However, even if we have to teach this is only a plan to get us started and established. We have been discussing and praying about starting us a type of Christian school or education service as a platform to help provide for our family but also be a type of side ministry to train the next generation of young Christian leaders wherever the Lord leads them in life. A platform like this would also allow us good opportunities to partner with local Churches in the USA that may want to send young people our way to be teachers for a semester or year with us and get some Missions and overseas experience under their belts.
Please continue to pray for our efforts that God would direct every step. We are not rushing this and only want to follow what God wants out of this and not our own plans. If you think you would be interested in helping support the Christian school efforts, or are interested in possibly partnering in the future to send young people in the Church to teach with us please let us know so we can discuss more and pray about these opportunities. We need partners to make this happen and are actively looking and praying for who God will send our way. In Jesus name, Amen!