I’ve just returned from a 13-day trip to Central America that brought me to five churches in three countries. Along the way, I met a number of GBS students and pastors, preached in three conferences, and met with pastors both individually and in small meetings to present the opportunity of having GBS study centers in their own churches.
Panama City, Panama
I began at Panama Baptist Church (Iglesia Bautista Panamá) in Panama City where Edwin Santiago is the Pastor. He invited me to preach for their Stewardship conference. Biblical principles for giving and using our resources correctly are the same in Panama as they are in the US, of course, so for three nights we examined those principles and the application of them. I am grateful to the good response that we saw in the meeting. On Saturday morning, I was able to accompany Pastor Santiago as he made some visits, leading a young man to Christ and comforting a family who were gathered around a gentleman in the hospital in the final stages of cancer.
That afternoon we met with a small group of Pastors at Victory Baptist Church (Iglesia Bautista de la Victoria) just outside of Panama City in Cerro Batea. US Missionary Franklin Booth pastors this work and he would be my host for the next several days of the trip. The response from the pastors was enthusiastic. Each one indicated an interest in beginning a GBS study center, including one who had just begun his own institute program a few days before. Of course, they know us as Seminario Bautista Panamericano, and are looking forward to getting the materials for Module 1 just as quickly as possible.
The following morning, we began a three-day Family conference at Victory. Again, the Lord blessed with many decisions, including the salvation of a lady who has long struggled with doubt.
I was in this church for a family conference 9 years ago, and it was a blessing to see how they have grown and stayed faithful over the years. Their facility has grown, too! Although they have not yet begun remodeling it, they have purchased the adjacent building for additional educational space, and soon an auditorium expansion will also be necessary. I trust that as they continue to grow that Lord will use the ministry of the institute to help develop leaders who can help serve in a variety of areas.
On Monday, Franklin invited two fellow missionaries to the house to learn about the ministry of GBS. Both of these men are relatively new on the field and are pastoring young works. I enjoyed meeting them, learning about their ministries, and listening to them share both the victories and the struggles that they have encountered as they serve the Lord in Panama.
Click the pictures from Panama below to enlarge them.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
After concluding the meeting on Tuesday night, I boarded a plane for San Pedro Sula, Honduras early Wednesday morning. This was my first trip back to Honduras since my BBN days. I was amazed at how much this city has grown and developed over the last ten years. My purpose for the trip was to spend time with Luis Sabillon, who directs the GBS study center in his church and another. These are two fairly large study centers, as you can see in the pictures on the right. The first was taken at Cabañitas Baptist Church where I preached on Wednesday night. Additionally, Cabanas Baptist Church also moved their service to be with us that night. I have known both of these churches for many years, so it was a blessing to see some old friends, and to see some new faces among the congregations.
The second picture was taken the following night at Las Brisas Baptist Church. Since we have a study center there, the pastor invited me to preach when he knew that I was coming to town. Again, it was good to have the opportunity to meet these who we serve, face to face. As he spoke of the institute, Pastor Victor said, “That which for which we have prayed for so long, is finally here.”
The next morning, Friday, it was another early departure, arriving in Managua, Nicaragua mid-morning, just an hour or so after an earthquake had hit. There were two tremors in the early morning hours on Saturday, but I felt nothing as I slept.
I met Pastor Marvin Brenes of the Jerusalem Baptist Temple a couple of years ago when he was in the Charlotte area. At that time, I gave him materials for Module 1. That group is now about to complete their sixth module, and a new class has recently started with the first. Additonally, Pastor Brenes helps us deliver materials to other study centers around Managua, allowing us to ship to a single point, which helps us save on shipping costs.
Again, I was there to speak for a conference. The theme for the weekend was “Fundamental Doctrines”. It was clear that this church, although it has many new members, has been well-taught. A particular blessing was the opportunity to lead a young man to Christ at the end of the Saturday night service. Saturday morning, the church hosted a pastors meeting, where I preached twice and presented the ministry of the school. Again, every pastor in attendance expressed an interest in having a study center. Some have already followed up by email, telling me how many students they are expecting. We need that information, of course, in order to be able to ship the appropriate number of text books.
After the Sunday night service I packed for my flight back to the States on Monday morning. Every flight of this trip left on time and arrived without incident. Candidly, that seems to be the exception rather than the rule these days. Given the tight schedule in the middle of the trip, I thank the Lord for the exception!
The trip was productive and a blessing on every level. I was personally encouraged by meeting so many of our students and hearing their testimonies. I was also able to enjoy time with friends that I have not seen for many years. It was good to see the response to the preaching in so many places. The pastors that we met along the way seemed enthusiastic in their response to the school and many are already making plans to begin study centers in their churches. Later today I will be carrying the first of many boxes to the post office to be shipped to these men.
Thank you so much for your prayers for this trip. Thank you, too, to those who contributed financially toward it. You can rejoice in the fact there is now fruit “to your account” (Phil. 4:16-17). Please continue to pray for those students, churches and pastors in Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua. Some are laboring under very difficult circumstances. Most of the churches have some sort of immediate need related to their buildings. Every one of those pastors needs wisdom, of course. Pray, too, for those new students who will be starting their studies over the next few weeks and months. Pray specifically for their understanding, discipline and usefulness in the ministry, asking God to develop them, not only academically, but spiritually so that they might be a blessing to their churches and to their communities.
Meanwhile, please keep praying for the rest of the work here at GBS. We have several projects currently underway to improve our curriculum and better serve our students and churches. We also have a need for additional support. If you would like more information about how to get involved, please contact us today, by using the form at the bottom of the page.
Thank you again, for your prayers and interest in the ministry of Global Baptist Schools. Click the pictures below to enlarge them.