Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our prayer for you is, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). What wonderful realities are the love of God and Christ’s unwavering commitment!
In order to avoid stating the obvious about the current situation, we won’t share with you what you already know. However, we do want to inform you. Below we will briefly give you a family update, share with you what the current situation is in Panamá, inform you of our ministry plans, and share our gratitude to you.
Mary, Isaac, and I are all healthy, in good spirits, and doing well. Other than a trip to the grocery store and the pet store to get turtle food, we have been in our apartment since last Saturday, March 14. We have a good supply of food for the time being, and, yes, we even have enough toilet paper.
We celebrated Isaac’s birthday on March 17, with pizza and cake. Although we had to cancel his birthday party, he had a great day.
The Current Situation in Panamá
As we write this update, there are currently 245 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Panamá. Of those, three have died. The country has performed 2,493 tests, and 90% have come back negative. The government is slowly passing specific executive decrees in an attempt to mitigate the spread. For instance, over this past week:
(1) only nationals and legal residents were allowed to enter the country,
(2) only 50 people were allowed in a store at one time,
(3) everyone has been encouraged to stay in their homes,
(4) a “sanitary fence” was set up, which basically means the metro Panamá City area is closed off to those who do not have special permission to enter and/or exit,
(5) a curfew was set from 9:00 PM – 5:00 AM,
(6) the majority of commercial businesses have been closed for 30 days (except grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.), and most recently
(7) all international inbound and outbound flights will be prohibited for 30 days beginning Sunday, March 22.
We do not know for sure, but we are anticipating a total lockdown at some point. Of course, the government will have a plan for people to go to the grocery store, get basic necessities, etc.
Our Ministry Plans
Like many churches and ministries in the United States and around the world, we have had to adopt an online approach for the church services and Bible studies of Iglesia Bautista de Costa Verde. Concerning the specific ministries of the church:
(1) Nelson will continue to preach through 1 Corinthians via YouTube.
(2) We will resume our weekly Bible studies on March 23, via Zoom. It is actually an opportunity to reach many people, as it already appears we may have several new people for the Bible studies.
Side Note. Interestingly, in the Lord’s sovereign plan, we began to study the book of Habakkuk this month. We have already discussed, “what do we do with our doubts?” and “what do we do when we do not like the answer God gives?” Next we will discuss waiting on the Lord and listening from chapter 2.
By the way, if any of you would be interested in doing a study of Habakkuk in English, let us know. It would be encouraging, and fun, to do something like that.
(3) I will be preaching an Easter message via YouTube on April 12.
(4) Our hope and prayer is that we will be able to meet again together by the end of April, but we continue to trust in the Lord.
Other things we are doing or considering:
(1) Mary continues to teach Isaac in homeschool. He is scheduled to finish second grade in four weeks.
(2) Isaac continues with life. Thankfully, from the perspective of an 8 year old, life is 95% normal.
(3) We are communicating with and trying to encourage members of our church. For many of them, it is hard to be alone during this time. We imagine you can relate.
(4) I am considering posting a short devotional a few times a week, so that members of our church and others in our community can be encouraged in the Lord.
(5) We are praying a lot. We have been praying for over a year that God would send a Great Awakening to Costa Verde. Perhaps the Lord will use this time to do so.
(6) If an interest arises in our community, we would consider offering a class, or some type of counseling, in order to help people know how to manage their finances.
(7) We are looking for other ways we can help meet felt needs during this time. If we can address the needs they believe they have, we hope to then have an open door to present the gospel and the hope we have in Christ (Colossians 4:3).
We are so thankful to each of you who pray for us and the ministry here. We are also very grateful to each of you who partner with us through your financial support. Together, we are a team!
In good times and in bad times, please know that our commitment to you is to be good stewards of what you have entrusted to us. We know that we will give an account to the Lord for how we use our resources, and we want to bear spiritual fruit that will go to your account. As we go forward, we look forward to sharing with you stories of God’s mercy, grace, and salvation.
Finally, it would be an honor to hear from each of you. We would love to know how you are doing and how we can be praying for you. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
We plan to send out our next, regular monthly update on April 6.
Clip, Mary, and Isaac