A Trip From One World To Another For Christ!
Writer Author Pastor John McWilliams
- Fiction No
What follows below is my account of a trip in January to Panama for the purpose of training indigenousness Indian tribes in the Panamanian jungle. We held a three day conference in a jungle clearing for the purpose of training both clergy and laypeople in The Lord. We had wonderful times of teaching, preaching, prayer, Worship and fellowship.
I work full time with International Leadership Academies which is a ministry project of Campus Crusade For Christ. Our ministry is that of teaching and training pastors and Church leaders throughout the world.
I landed in San Jose, Costa Rica and was so happy to be back in Central America, especially since I was going to be with two of my former students, Pastors Erick Cordero and Pastor Jose Luis. I also had a wonderful visit with Erick´s family, his wife Blanca and his two children. Erick is doing a great job in Latin America for The Lord. He has a vital ministry which covers his entire country of Costa Rica and he works in Panama as well, where he often joins with Pastor Jose Luis to minister to the Indian tribes in that nation. Hundreds of people are coming to Christ and are being trained in leadership on a regular basis all throughout Costa Rica and Panama.
We left Costa Rica the next day at 4:30 A. M. for Panama which involved 3 bus rides, and 17 hours over the high Costa Rican mountains to reach Panama and the reservation where Jose Luis pastors the Indian tribes. The name of the tribe I was invited by is the Guamie Indians (pronounced whyme). As you´ll see below, there would be numerous times when I could invoke that name and ask God "whyme" with regard to this trip. However, it turned out to be such a great ministry opportunity and I saw so many joyous things take place as I shared and ministered in Christ.
After the 17 hour trip Erick and I took a four-wheel drive truck up the mountain road to Pastor Jose Luis' house on the Indian reservation where we stayed until the next morning. Then another 4 wheel drive truck came the next morning, to take us higher up on the mountain to the entrance to the Guamie Indian village area. After about half an hour bouncing along the worst road I'd ever seen in my life (this road made roads in Nicaragua look like nice highways), we arrived at the trail that leads to the Guamie village named Cienegon which translated means "The Swamp."
We were then told it would now be about a half hour hike on foot down the mountain to the river valley where we would hold the first ever Indian Congress to train pastors and leaders of the various tribes in the area.
Horses were brought in to carry the supplies for the weekend, which included over a hundred pounds of rice and oranges etc. for the people to eat at the conference. All the food for the weekend was provided by a supporter of Pastor Erick´s ministry in San Jose.
We began the hike down to the river. It was a trecheaous, very small trail with lots of loose gravel and rocks. Erick's wife Blanca fell down at one point but was uninjured. I made it down in good shape and was happy I play lots of tennis which keeps my legs in shape. I was also happy I had previous mountain climbing experience.
After about 20 minutes or so, we came to the village where Chief Daniel and the rest of the host tribe lived. Chief Daniel was already down at the "Conference Site" and so we continued on down the mountain to the river where the first "Indian Congress" was to be held.
I was warmly welcomed by Chief Daniel as a brother in Christ. He is the first convert to Christ in his tribe and now his whole family is Christian and about 40% of his tribe. This tribe has only been evangelized for about 2 years or so.
As it turns out, I was the first U. S. pastor ever to minister with this tribe and the first U. S. civilian they had ever seen. They had seen a few U. S. soldiers a few years ago, when our soldiers were in the area searching for Noriega. I was told by Chief Daniel that Noriega had determined to wipe out the Indians and it was shared with me, that it was Noriega's plan to use some of the Indians to get organs for transplants etc. The Chief was very thankful for The U. S. coming and removing Noriega.
The "conference center" was actually a clearing in what is a section of Panamanian jungle. In a clearing under some banana trees, were about 15 logs on the ground that were the pews for The Sanctuary which was where people sat for Worship and teaching seminars. They also sat and stood in various areas around this clearing.
It also served as a place for me to sleep as folks spread some wooden staves perpendicular to the logs and placed a piece of foam on top for a mattress. Since there were a multitude of flying and crawling creatures in the area, including snakes, I was happy to be at least a few inches off the ground, even though I was still out under the open sky. After dark the stars were spectacular. There is zero light pollution in the jungle after dark, and when one looks up at the sky, one sees about 85% stars and perhaps 15% sky. It made me recall Psalm 8.
The Indians just slept on the ground on the dirt or on blankets if they had them. Pastor Erick was on a foam mattress on the ground and woke up at one point feeling something soft on his neck. He gently removed what they call a mouse worm which is a worm the size of a mouse that attaches itself to you. He slowly removed it and everything was fine.
When I returned to The U. S., I noticed a number of red bumps beginning to appear on my body. As it turned out it seems I was the snack of one or more insects at some point that must have invaded my clothing and had a feast on me until morning. I had somewhere around 75 bites on me, but thankfully they only itched and healed up fine after applying a cream I was given when I had them checked out back in The U. S.
At one point I woke up very early in the morning, before dawn and the quietness of the jungle was broken by many children choking and gagging and coughing with various health issues.
At one Service we had a time to anoint and pray for many of the sick children who were present. Things that clear up in a few days in The U. S. with antibiotics, can become life threatening to these folks. The nearest health facility, if you can call it that, is one hour away by horseback.
There was nothing in the way of clean running water or electricity. The bathroom was a freshly dug pit in the earth dug just for The Congress. It was surrounded by four poles wrapped with dark plastic for privacy.
We had a generator that powered three light bulbs for Services and teachings after dark. It also powered a loudspeaker system and the projector to show The Jesus Film. We showed The Jesus Film twice in a jungle clearing on two consecutive days.
During our time there, in addition to the training we offered pastors and laypeople about 45 other people came to Christ for the first time and another 30 or so rededicated their lives to Christ. On Sunday morning after Worship, a number of people who had recently accepted Christ, and who had received training in baptism, were baptized in the river.
Over 200 people came to The Congress. They represented 12 different tribes in the area. They were pastors, leaders and regular Christian laypeople in their tribes. I taught on The Characteristics of a Christian Leader and also taught a seminar on Forgiveness which proved to be very valuable in that culture. I was told that Indian men virtually never cry or show any such emotion. Normally the vendetta is the way of dealing with people that have offended you.
However, after the teaching on forgiveness, there were various men crying and going up to one another in Christ, to ask for forgiveness and hugging each other. Praise God!
This was really the fourth world. The people are without even forks and knives. They use only a spoon. People who came to The Congress did so by walking over the mountain trails. Most walked 4 or 5 hours to reach the site. One man who was totally blind, was led by his wife over the mountain trails for a one hour walk to reach the site. One man and his family walked for 24 hours to attend The Congress.
When it came time to leave our new friends, we were told that Chief Daniel was going to provide us with original 4X4's, commonly called horses, to take us back up the mountain trail. It was nice to ride the horses out, rather than have to climb back up that mountain, which is what I'd expected to have to do. We reached the road again where the 4X4 truck picked us up and brought us the rest of the way back down the mountain to Jose Luis' house where we stayed until morning. Early the next morning Pastor Erick and his wife Blanca and I began our trip back out of Panama and over the mountains to Costa Rica and San Jose and Erick's house once again.
The next day I had the joy of teaching in a large ghetto Church in San Jose where over 200 people attended Worship and a seminar on The Characteristics of a Christian Leader. Most of the people were pastors and leaders in Churches in San Jose. It went very well and was well received by those brothers and sisters in Christ. They also had a time of prayer for all who came to be the best kinds of leaders they can be in Christ.
The next day saw me leave for The U. S. and that trip went well too.
Well, I guess you have the picture. This trip was one for the books, and it was my privilege and joy to have the opportunity to do something so meaningful for Christ and His special people in Panama and Costa Rica. I praise The Lord for His Grace.
About the Writer Author
Most Recent From This Writer
Inspired Still - Designs by LaVellaK
Design Challenged? No worries! Among many design services I offer, I'll gladly design hats, t-shirts and more for you or your organized Special Event. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details!
Photgraphy & Design by LaVella Kraft
Select Article or Story