I was greatly impressed by the Panamanian Pastors I met over the weekend. They love the Lord, they have a vision for reaching people for Christ and they work very hard.
One of the men I met has been a key organizer in the partnership with Virginia Baptists. His name is Pastor Abel. He is fluent in English and was one of the main translators during our retreat.
He shared that most Panamanians think of Americans as being rich (there is a lot of history in that comment) so when they started talking about a partnership he wanted to change the dynamic. He did not want the Panamanians thinking of what can Virginians do for us, rather how could the Virginians join with the churches in a partnership to minister to people in need of help.
The first project was a partnership between a Virginia team and a Panamanian church as they teamed up to build a simple home for a poor family. At the conclusion of the project he put some blue paint on someone’s hand and pressed the painted hand onto the wall leaving the blue hand print. The idea took off and was used again and again, often with the logo, “Serving Christ Together”. The logo has caught on and has been publicized in the local media.
It is important to me because the Panamanians don’t want this ministry to be a matter of their receiving. Instead they want it to be a joint ministry where we work side by side in serving local people.
When we think about ministry, we need to be careful that we provide help that really helps. Sometimes our generosity and enthusiasm can result in being a one way street. It may meet a need, but if we are not careful it can develop dependency. The “Blue Hand Print” is a symbol of joint ministry that really helps.
Below you can see a picture of Pastor Abel standing with Don Campbell who was on our team. You can also see a picture of the “Blue Hand Print” that was on the back of our t-shirts. ~from Jim Riddell