7 Years in Panama and What’s Next?

Mid July will mark 7 years since we bought those one way tickets to Panama.  What will the next 3-6 years hold? Continue reading

First Time here?

Thanks for dropping by and visiting our ministry site.
Posted in Panama | 1 Comment

Fulfilling a dream: New Teachers Released into Ministry

For over 10 years, many of you have given financially, prayed, and supported our work in Latin America.

Some of those gifts and prayers have supported the theological training of Young Life Leaders from 7 countries in Central America.

You’ve enabled me and a team of teachers from the Dunamis Institute to teach on the person and work of the Holy Spirit over the years and invest in many leaders from many countries who have received sound training to reach their peers for Christ.

Young Area Central America Area Directors

Young Area Central America Area Directors

As Young Life Central America stepped into missionary expansion over the last 3 years in particular, their leadership training camps have also grown exponentially.

Whereas there used to be one camp for everyone, there now at least 3 camps to cover all their leaders.

I praise God to have a part in in that training over the past 10 years, and praise God for our supporters that allow us to be there.

New Teachers

This week, this Semana Santa, you’ve helped us reach another milestone that we’ve been working on with Young Life Central America:

Teachers that we have been training and mentoring are teaching.

This week, these teachers have been raised up from within Young Life to provide the same theological training to their youngest and newest leaders.

These teachers have been with us since near the beginning of our investment in them and, like a proud leader – we get to stand back and let them teach.

These leaders were there when our class only numbered 30 people.  Classes now regularly push 100 for us.

Part of the role of every cross cultural mission should be to raise up local leaders to do the work of the ministry, so that it can be self-sustaining and replicating

This week – we are seeing the fruit of the effort.

Pray for these teachers this week.

The next phase:

This week, Young Life Central America is having training camps all that the same time, in at least 3 different countries.

I wish I could attend all their camps when invited, but I can’t get to all those places on the same weekend.


We can’t spend $17,000 to send multiple short term teams when asked at the same time during Holy Week when most of our calendars do not permit mission travel at the high season of Easter and US public schools’ spring break.

Since Young Life Central America has grown so much in the last three years, our team is not able to be at all the camps where this training is wanted. We’ve had to turn down or postpone invitations.

Many of the camps are now at the same time in different countries.

The problem now is:

How can we help Young Life raise up teachers fast enough in multiple locations at the same time?

What if we could put a native speaker or two in a video format and allow Young Life to put this teaching in their hands of their entire network?

What if we could continue to teach our style of prayer ministry by video in bite sized chunks so that students don’t have to find 5 additional volunteer days without pay for training?

What if we could create a resource, done with native speaking teachers you’ve invested in, and release that resource to that organization for their use and distribution to leaders they’ve identified?

Those recordings could become

  • part of their curriculum,
  • taught by their teachers,
  • influenced by their organizational culture and
  • distributed throughout their international network into the farthest corners of their ministry.

What if that resource could be done in such a professional manner that other major Latin American mission networks could use it, free of charge?

I can’t wait

I get bubbly when I think about this.  I can’t wait for that dream to become reality.

A future phase of our ministry may throw our efforts behind this and spearhead this project.

The Dunamis Institute already has the proven training material that has been used worldwide.  We’ve spent 10 years translating a lot of it into Spanish.  Much of the groundwork has already been done.

We’ve had teams, translators, financial supporters and prayer warriors make such an investment in these leaders, that this could be a logical next step to reach more people.

I’m still working on a budget for a project of this magnitude.  My inexperience in budgeting for something like this is showing.  If you have project budget setting experience, I could use your advice as I figure out how to make this a reality.

It’ll take your prayer, your provision, and your participation to help make this a reality.

I don’t have all the details yet, but I’d like to talk with you one to one about it.

I invite you to email me for a conversation.

Cork photo credit: tripleigrek via cc

Posted in Ministry, Nicaragua | Leave a comment

Can we solve a pastor’s desire for SOMETHING to change?

The asphalt ran out.  We had turned our car off the one lane road and started up the mountain to a small orange church on the side of the road.

Though we were only 15 minutes outside of a metropolis with skyscrapers that glisten in the sun, our sedan was making its way up an unpaved mountain road to bring a workshop to a church that meets in a former house in an under-resourced community.

The road to Church

The one lane dirt road is bordered with deep storm water ditches and cement fences that help mark the way.  Behind the fences are simple cement houses tucked in among the jungle trees.

The church meets in a house off to the right.  In a community where cars are rare (and therefore few parking spaces), parking my car means hoping I don’t drop it in the storm ditch trying to get to the narrow spot on the shoulder between the ditch and the fence.

I arrived already exhausted.  I just returned to Panama 15 hours before, after conducting my Grandmother’s graveside funeral 1700 miles away in ice cold Atlanta.

Pastor Celina has invited us

Brenda with Pastora Celina

Brenda with Pastora Celina

Pastora Celina [left] has been ministering in this community for years.  She and her husband planted this congregation, but her husband died some years back, so she labors alone in this community.  Her bedroom is attached to the church, right off the patio.  We stand in front of it for a brief visit as people arrive.

From talking with her, it’s clear that she loves this community and desires to make a difference.  Her small church is trying.

If you could hear her speak, you’d describe her as a person who knows how to

  • “get to it” or
  • “get ‘er done” or
  • “pick yourself up by the bootstraps. . . “

But something needs to change

She struggles with many of the same struggles of small church pastors.  As we talk, we hear the frustration in her voice.

We hear a desperation that something has to change.

But the lack of significant pastoral training, supervision, and resources leave her to do what she only knows: get your act together and try again with what you know.

So with raw determination, she keep plugging away, trying to reach their community and it feels like a never ending cycle of optimism that crashes into reality.

Can you bring us fresh ideas?

She’s invited us to share some fresh ideas that might inspire her leaders to do something different.

  • Brenda does a workshop for the children’s ministry leaders, and
  • I’ve been invited teach Sunday school workers for a few hours.


Brenda’s class is in the sanctuary.  A few young ladies who are doing ministry for the children are able to make the workshop on this warm Saturday.  They are preparing for an upcoming VBS and the training is meant to help them with that outreach.

Brenda had prepared crafts using 100 % recycled materials.  Communities like this don’t get a Wal-Mart or a Michael’s.  Crafts have to be done with whatever recyclables come home from the supermarket or convenience store.  Few cars mean that any shopping for resources must be well-planned out.

One of Brenda's Crafts

One of Brenda’s Crafts

Brenda also shares a teaching on creativity, helping to show the process she’s been using to develop the bible lessons for the the Children’s ministry in our own church.

However, when she shows people how she finds ideas on the internet, Brenda is caught off guard – we were not prepared for the level of computer illiteracy.   So we have to “go back to the drawing board” for the next time.

A class for Sunday School Leaders

Chris' Classroom

Chris’ Classroom

My class is outdoors in a partially constructed class room.  The smell of cement dust is strong.  Pastora is apologetic for the condition.

The church is in “perpetual construction,” meaning that remodeling will happen in steps as offerings come in.   She’s waiting for the offering money to pour the slab for the second floor above our heads.

The church kitchen is a detached structure in the back yard, and the bathroom is a third structure in the back yard [pictured above to the right].  The bright blue water thank  holds the reserve water when the water pressure from the city doesn’t allow the water to make it up the mountain.

I spend about 3 hours, in spite of my tiredness, with a few leaders of their adult Sunday school to discuss ways to make it more evangelistic.   The intimate format allowed for creativity and ideas to flow.

I am encouraged to hear “That’s a great idea” and people writing down notes and action steps.

The creativity sparks a fresh round.


As we drive home, we are grateful that we could attempt to make a difference.  We have been invited to return again when the scheduling permits.   But we feel like the changes Pastora is looking for is more than we can accomplish in a 3 hour workshop.

We can provide the fresh eyes.  We can provide a fresh wind of motivation.  We can provide fresh ideas, but ultimately, the responsibility for reaching the community belongs to this local church (and the others tucked in back there).

Will any changes be made?  Will Pastora start doing some things differently?  Only time will tell.

Help us invest in Pastors like Celina

This invitation is part of our core calling:

to come alongside church planters and pastors in Latin America to help them reach their communities for Christ.

Several of you who read this newsletter already financially support our work with pastors like Celina.  Thank you!

We want others to help us invest in Celina.  Make your financial gift or monthly contribution by following the directions here.

Posted in Ministry, Panama | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Would you train me and my team?

Meet Josh.

Josh is a young pastor of a new church development in the city of Colón, with an evangelistic dream to reach the young people around him for Christ.


He grew up in a family of ministers, hearing the gospel preach.  This type environment nurtured an evangelistic passion in his heart.

He learned

  • how to worship,
  • how to preach, and most of all,
  • how to reach the youth of his generation for Christ.


His mom and dad pastored a growing church in a distant area between Colón and Panama City, until a family tragedy struck. Continue reading

Posted in Ministry, Panama | Leave a comment

This lit a fire

As our friends in the United States celebrate thanksgiving, Brenda and I would love to share a little something of what we are thankful for.

Living in an upper middle class area of the city, surrounded by skyscrapers that glisten in the sunlight, it is easy to become sheltered from the shacks, struggles, and smells of those who live in urban poverty.

panama skyline

Brenda and I stepped into that world to come alongside a church that wants to take the gospel to such a community.  They had invited us to help improve their outreach and train their workers to share the love of Jesus in tangible ways.

We got to participate before a flooding rain made a mess.  But rains don’t stop Continue reading

Posted in Ministry, Panama | 1 Comment

We ran out of chairs

On a recent evening, we ran out of chairs.  Our sofas, benches, office chairs, and dining room table could not hold all the pioneer missionaries gathered at our house for a training session in “Healthy Boundaries for Ministry Leaders.

Not Enough Chairs

Not Enough Chairs

Some of these leaders from Young Life Panama had to stand, while others chose to sit uncomfortably on hard ceramic tile.  They had gathered at our house for fellowship, food, teaching and prayer.

When their team first started meeting in our house, there were Continue reading

Posted in Ministry, Panama | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Three Challenges to Prayer Ministry

Participating in personal prayer ministry can be a challenge. What do you do if you encounter a demon? What do you do if the person starts weeping? What about when asked to pray for physical need?

For some believers in Christ, they choose to opt-out of personal prayer ministry for a variety of reasons.

In this video, you’ll hear how we helped some local churches in Nicaragua deal with these challenges.

Continue reading

Posted in Ministry, Nicaragua | Leave a comment

Are you a Genesis 1 Christian?

I listened to the testimony of an adult woman from Guatemala.  While I was in Nicaragua with Vida Joven in August 2013, I found my evangelistic passion renewed as I listened to the story of transformation that the gospel brought in the life of a leader from Guatemala.


Her journey to faith brought me to tears (2nd from left), and once again aroused my desire to help other people share the good news of Jesus Christ and we need your help to do it.

As you read her story, ask yourself this question:  Continue reading

Posted in Ministry, Nicaragua | Leave a comment