(Continued from Palma Bahia – Part 1)
First and foremost the sharing of God’s love was our primary plan for the outreach. We felt this could be done in a variety of ways, so after prayer and careful consideration we determined to do this through Bible teachings and prayer time, teaching English, preparing land for an additional school, sharing our resources and spending quality time in fellowship with the locals.
Our team placed a large emphasis on our Bible teachings and prayer, as a relationship with the Lord takes precedence above all else. Fortunately, many of the villagers believed in God and were hungry to learn more about Jesus. On a daily basis the open-air hut where we conducted our lessons was filled with children and adults awaiting our message.
Surprisingly, a large part of their openness to listening to our team came from the date of our arrival. We learned from the village elders that on September 22nd, 1962 (exactly 55 years to the day we arrived) an angel had visited a woman in a nearby village and instructed the people to change their ways and repent.
The news of this encounter spread rapidly through the region and many gave their lives to Lord. The people of Palma Bahia even had a popular worship song called “Hallelujah Reinado (Ray-nan-doe)” which directly mentioned the September 22nd angelic visit.
After hearing this story, our entire team was in awe of the wonderful God we serve. The blessings continued during our first night of prayer when an elderly man with leg issues was healed of his pain. Amazingly, the next day the villagers reported back that once we had left for the evening, the same man was able to run out of hut when heading home that night!
As the week progressed our bond with the people of Palma Bahia only grew stronger. We worked (and sweated) side-by-side with the villagers to clear land for their new school. Working in the hot Panamanian sun made the meals we shared (with clean cooking water provided by our team) that much more enjoyable.
Most of all though, we shared quality time together. Hermin, in particular, took it upon himself to share many customs of his people. In doing so, we learned words in the villagers native tongue of Guaymi (Ga-why-me), watched traditional dances performed by the people of Palma Bahia, and travelled to a nearby village to see their way of life. All the while, we intentionally set out to combat the spirit of hopelessness in the village.
At every opportunity, our team looked to build up the locals through prayer and encouragement. While our practical support of education and clean water would serve the villagers well, we knew a deeply rooted relationship with God would bring about the most transformation for the people. Demonstrating this loving relationship ultimately became our greatest gift to Palma Bahia.
This love was perfectly exemplified by the scene at the end of each day. All the people of the village, including us, would congregate in the open field next to the ocean. Little ones ran wild, endless soccer games were played, great conversations were had and each girl on our team must have had their hair done a half-dozen times. Our team seamlessly blended in with the joyful chaos.
All the while, the elders of the village would casually chat and smile as life happened before their eyes. With the last rays of daylight, we would load into the canoe for the trip “home.” Waving goodbye, with an “hasta manana” were twenty of our newest friends and family in Christ.
Certainly our time in the village came with some challenges, such as living with bats in our hut, digging a hole for the bathroom and the front porch collapsing at 2 a.m. one night. Those moments though, will simply serve as good stories to tell when we reflect on our experience in the small Panamanian village.
Unanimously, the team agreed the people of Palma Bahia had blessed us just as much, if not more, than anything we had accomplished during our eight days. Either way, in the end we knew our time there was all for the glory of God’s kingdom.
By Scott Dye
Port YWAM Kona Alumni