Serving the Lord
Category : Panama
Panama, Central America – Summer Updates
As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name — for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm — when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. (1 Kings 8:41-43a)
Refugees. It is a difficult and complicated issue. Interestingly, I’m writing this letter the morning of Election Day in the US, although it will be sent out later. The issue of refugees certainly had a starring role in this election season, but our experience
with it is not political, it is personal.
We came to Panama thinking we would plant a church populated by Panamanians, that didn’t happen. We looked for a middle-class neighborhood thinking we would plant a church populated by the middle class, that didn’t happen. We thought
we would plant a church that would be a community (hence the name Comunidad de Cristo) but what happened was more than that. We are an international church with most people from Venezuela. They are refugees…at least in our opinion they
fit the definition of refugee…a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country, as in time of political upheaval, war, etc. I know they are fleeing their country in record numbers, not only for Panama, but Panama is certainly receiving many. The difference I see between news stories and what we see every day is there is no help here for someone arriving from any country but particularly Venezuela. There are no ministries dedicated to finding them housing, jobs or helping them integrate into the country. The government of Panama makes it very easy for foreigners to enter but to live and thrive here as a foreigner is very difficult. Panama blocks many jobs, only Panamanians can work in those careers, even for someone who has a legal status and permission to work. I’m sure the government feels there are good reasons for doing this and it is not our desire to criticize the policies of Panama but to just point out the situation that so many face upon arrival here.
The minimum wage is about $2.50 per hour; it is common for people to make $600 a month. In comparison to developing countries that may sound like a decent amount of money but when you realize that prices are comparable to those in the US, it is difficult to survive on this salary. A reasonable rental price in the city in a safe area could be anywhere from $600 to more than $1,500 per month. A minimum salary does not permit this. So, the option is to live outside the city…with commutes 1-2 hours each way or rent a room in an apartment with strangers. That is what most in our church have chosen to do, an entire family lives in one room. Imagine that, sometimes 15-20 people live in an apartment with 2 bathrooms and one refrigerator.
The cost of obtaining residency and a work permit is extremely costly and slow so many are living here illegally. Every day we encounter people who are discouraged, confused, hungry and desperate. Every day we are overwhelmed by the needs we
see around us. And every day we are surprised at the way God is working within our church. Honestly, we want to fix their problems for them. We want to help them find jobs, provide food and give them places to live…all of which we have done, but
the humbling aspect is that while God has used those things, His solution involves not just their physical needs but their spiritual needs as well.
People are finding refuge in Christ, entering into relationship with him. They are finding more than community; they are finding a family in Christ. We are amazed at what God is doing.
As this year winds to a close and you contemplate year end giving, we would ask you to consider supporting this ministry. During the year, our account frequently runs low and we need the funds that are raised during year end giving to balance out the rest of the year. While we wish, this were not the case, it seems that every year we gain new monthly supporters only to lose others during the year.
Please pray for how God would use you to minister in Panama. Pray for us as well for wisdom in how to meet needs and share the message of refuge in Christ.
God has taken such great care of us through your faithful gifts and prayers.
Thank you !!!
Phil. 1:4-5 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
We feel honored to partner with you. Some possible options to become a Financial Partner:
• Mail a check, payable to Mission to the World, and include a note stating the investment is intended for Summers, #16932 to:
Mission to the World; PO Box 2589; Suwanee, GA 30024-0982.
• Make an investment online at the MTW web site, https://mtw.org/missionaries/details/marc-and-sam-summers
• Set up a payment on your bank’s web site (One-time or Monthly) (Info for checks may apply)
Marc & Sam Summers
El Cangrejo, Panama City, Rep. de Panama