The Work of the Lord in the Republic of Panama

Spring 2022
Written by Byrne and Lois Foreshew - Republic of Panama

February 2022

Looking back over the past two years, no doubt you have used similar words as we have to describe the experiences of Covid. Words such as a trial, challenge, test, deep water, dark valley, fear, uncertainty, why, etc. It's not what we call these experiences but what we learn from them and the spiritual development they produce in us.

Joshua's fellow spy, Caleb, had many challenges but was constantly strengthened by God's all-sufficient grace. The number forty in the Bible is the number for testing. We see in Caleb's life that he endured almost forty years of slavery and hardship in Egypt. Forty days as a spy that brought a good report but was rejected by his brethren, then because "his heart wholly followed the Lord "and not the unbelieving company, he suffered forty years in the wilderness. What sustained him during those years? The Person of Christ - the "mana," Christ the Bread of Life. The promise - as one who believed God's promise that he would not die in the wilderness, Christ our life. The Prospect - he and his children would enter the promised land and have an inheritance there, Christ our hope.

We don't know much about five years in his life. He was eighty-five in Joshua cap.14 when he spoke to Joshua about his inheritance in Canaan. He was forty when he went as a spy and then forty years in the wilderness, that gives us eighty. Some would take these five years as years of battles, but the number five in scripture is often associated with "grace." In all of Caleb's challenges from Egypt to Canaan, the truth that Paul received was given to Caleb as well

"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. II Cor. 12:9.

At eighty-five, now in the Promised Land, Caleb says, "give me this mountain" (city/surrounding country of Hebron). I'm as strong today as I was at forty when I spied out the land. I don't want the easy "plains." Give me this "mountain of giants (Anakims)," which later became the city for priests. Sufficient grace gave strength in the trials produced confidence in a faithful God worthy of our worship, praise, and service.

As of late January 2022, out of 4.1 million people, estimates show over two million have already had Covid, and we are now averaging 10,000 new cases and as high as 17 deaths each day. These high numbers give the people an excuse not to attend the meetings, though attendance at bars, clubs, beaches, and street parties remains high.

"take out" boxes handed out on the street.

Thankfully meeting attendance amongst the believers has been good, and we have been meeting publicly for all assembly meetings since November 2021 (Breaking Bread started March 2021). Our weekly young people's meeting is still via Zoom, but we try to gather at our house for them every four weeks or so. There is a nice number attending, and two young ladies in their early twenties have expressed a desire to be baptized. Government funding for the hospitals is significantly underfunded, and they need basic supplies. We have been able to help a local hospital with shipments of supplies and PPE, for which they are very grateful. Over the years, we have visited this hospital with gospel literature and new baby packages; they know us and the Gospel we proclaim. Because of the pandemic, we could not get into the hospital, but we left them many "new baby" gift bags, which they kindly distributed.

We are seeing interest in open-air preaching. For a few weeks now, a young lady has been sitting on her patio each Sunday evening to listen, and last Sunday, she also had her mother and son with her to hear the gospel. Another lady who lives across the street has been listening consistently for some time, and she may be a believer.

In the last few months, we have been encouraged by a husband, wife, father-in-law, and his girlfriend, who have faithfully attended all the meetings and show a sincere interest in spiritual things. We pray that they will find out exactly where they are spiritually and that the Spirit of God will work in their hearts through preaching the Gospel and teaching of scriptures.

We were also encouraged by the Christmas meal in December, which was via "take out" boxes handed out on the street. In 2020 we made a hundred meals, but they went so quickly we thought we should double that to two hundred meals, and it seemed they went just as quick. Each meal box was accompanied by a calendar, Gospel verse, and Christmas tract.

The food distribution that we were involved in extensively in 2020-2021 has dwindled to pre-pandemic levels, as most people are working at least three days a week, and many are back full time. We thank each one that supported this effort during the pandemic. It was a great opportunity to show God's love in a practical way and get the Gospel into new areas; we leave the results with the Lord.

Sadly, the assembly here in Valle Hermoso has been hit hard because of the pandemic, and we are down to half the size. Some have gone on to glory, but the majority left because of employment. Though it leaves us small, we are encouraged that these four families are all attending other assemblies.

Some may be wondering about the orphanage where we were able to work with the children for over 11 years. Sadly, there seems to be some fighting between the administrator and some directors, and the result is we have not been permitted to return. Pray that this door may be opened again to us.

Some children's bible classes have started up again, but the attendance is small. May the Lord bring these little ones to hear His word and put their simple trust in Him

Thank you for praying for the work of the Lord in the Republic of Panama. We have no greater resource than prayer! II Cor. 12:10 for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Spring 2022
Written by Byrne and Lois Foreshew - Republic of Panama