I just returned from a nine day trip to Panama where myself and two others spent a week teaching, training, and equipping pastors and leaders from Panama to be more effective in their ministry to their own people. The week was exhausting and rewarding at the same time. It was exhausting because we were teaching twice a day for about four hours in two different locations. So, we taught from 8AM – 12PM in a rural town called Capira. Then we would get back to the house for lunch at about 2:00PM. We would be able to rest for a little while, and then we would get picked up at 5:30 to teach at the church in Panama City from 6:00PM – 9PM, and sometimes beyond. In total, we each taught about 15 hours. My part was all the more challenging because I did all my teaching in Spanish! That really put my language skills to the test. But it was so rewarding to see pastors, leaders, and church members receive knowledge, encouragement, challenge, and excitement as they put themselves to learn all throughout the week.
Our session for the week was on Church History. We also did one hour per day of teaching on the spiritual discipline of Scripture Meditation. I led three of these sessions and I put together a mini-training on the Inductive Bible Study method. It was great to see them receive a solid tool that will help them learn to rightly divide the Word of Truth. Many were really excited as they learned this practical method of studying and understanding the Bible. The last session was a practice workshop for them to put into practice what I had taught them in the previous sessions. So, I assigned each small group a passage of Scripture and had them put into practice all that they had learned.
One woman was so excited as she was sharing about how difficult it has been for her to understand some Scripture, but now she has so much hope that she will be able to really understand what she is reading. She was so excited that I told her that she won the prize, and I gave her a pack of colored pens and pencils that she can use as she begins to put to practice the Inductive Study method.
Another awesome highlight was seeing indigenous people who were part of the group. These people are from various tribes that still have not been fully reached with the Gospel. Some of these tribes, such as the Embara don’t even have all the Scriptures in their own language. So, it was awesome to see some of these people writing notes and putting into practice things that they were being taught. Knowing that this knowledge will be carried back to their own people so that they too may know the hope which we have in Jesus Christ. One missionary there is teaching some of these indigenous tribes Bible Storying, which is basically sharing the message of the Gospel through oral story telling since many of the people are not literate. So, each morning, one of the indigenous people shared a two minute story of a specific account in Scripture. It was awesome to see the glories of God being made known in story form to those who may never get the chance to read the Scriptures. His Word will go forth and reach all those who are meant to hear and respond.
I also had the opportunity to meet a young guy who recently came to faith in Christ. He is super fired up to share Christ with those around him and to live in a way that honors God. I told him that I would like to remain in contact with him so that I can encourage him and put some good resources his way so that he is discipled in the truth of Scripture. He was very thankful for my offer. I love seeing young guys on fire for the Lord.
Having spent the week training up the leadership of the church to be more effective fishers of men, it was only fitting that we were able to end our week being fisherman! What a treat that a friend of one of our group knew a guy who has a boat and he offered to take us out on the ocean. We caught a bunch of huge grouper. I only wish that it wasn’t the last day so that we could have enjoyed how they tasted.
Overall, it was a great week. I am super excited to be part of Reaching and Teaching International Ministries. Just to know that at the same time that we were in Panama teaching and training pastors, there was another team in Ecuador doing the same thing. And soon a team will travel to Brazil where they are launching their first Reaching and Teaching program…and they will also be in Peru, Dominican Republic, etc. I love being part of this organization that is so focused on equipping and training pastors and leaders so that they can be most effective in reaching their own people for the glory of God.
I’m also so thankful to God for giving me an excellent wife! She held down the fort with three kids for nine days all by herself. She is such a blessing and I’m so thankful to have her as my help-mate, lover, and best friend.