God’s Faithfulness Fuels The International Scripture Blitz In Panama

In June, an international team of 10 Gideons from different countries traveled to Panama to conduct an International Scripture Blitz (ISB). They had set a goal of providing 70,000 Scriptures in just one week.

The majority of the team members participating in the event had never been on an ISB. Sacrificing their vacation time, as well as their financial resources, the men left the comfort of their homes for a week to go to Panama and help spread the Gospel. They were strengthened knowing that their camps, families, and churches were praying for them.

Going into the blitz, a major concern was the city’s traffic. “The city traffic is thick and very difficult to navigate,” reported team leader Trevor Johns. To get ahead of the traffic, the team planned to leave the hotel each morning at 5 a.m. The team called on Gideons and Auxiliary all over the world to pray for God’s help in arriving at each distribution and placement site on time.

God responded immediately. The day after the prayer request was shared, the team received great news—they would be getting assistance from the Panama Presidential Police, who would provide trucks and officers to help move Scriptures through the heavy traffic. This answer to prayer allowed the team to distribute in excess of 30,000 Scriptures on the first day of the blitz, nearly half the goal for the week.

On day two of the blitz, the team updated members around the world saying, “Things are just booming here. There is nothing more thrilling than hearts being open to receiving Christ.” By the end of the day, the team had distributed another 30,000 Scriptures, bringing the total to 60,000. They also had secured the permission to distribute Scriptures at a university campus they had prayed for the day before. God was blessing the team’s prayers and increasing their faith.

Auxiliary members were helping every day with the blitz. By Thursday, they had distributed over 4,000 Scriptures, including Medical Testaments to nurses and medical professionals and Bibles placed on bedside tables.

Touching Lives In Panama With God’s Word

During the blitz, Gideons were witnessing to people who were experiencing the prosperity of Panama’s booming economy as well as people living in poverty. They were sharing Scriptures at a wide range of venues including schools, universities, military installations, fire and police departments, hotels, hospitals and medical clinics.

While conducting a distribution at a middle school, Gideons approached a vendor named Alexis who was selling snow cones in front of the school. A Christian woman who operated a vending cart beside him had been witnessing to him for years. She asked the Gideons to give him a copy of God’s Word. A short time later, the team led Alexis in a prayer to receive Christ. They acknowledged that they were just part of a bigger process that included the woman’s years of witnessing. “She’d done all the preparation. He was ripe… ready to be picked,” said one of the Gideons. They asked the woman to help Alexis get connected with a local church.

Much More Than An English Tutorial

At one school distribution, Gideons Robert Campbell and Randy Simmons were sharing Spanish-language New Testaments. A teacher named Ariel asked if he could receive a copy in English. The teacher stated that he wanted to read it to improve his English. “It can lead to improving other things in your life as well,” Simmons told him. The teacher started talking about his personal life, noting with despair that things were not going well. He wanted something better for his family, but didn’t know what to do. So Randy shared how faith in Jesus Christ could improve one’s life, starting with salvation. The men prayed with the teacher, ending with him praying to receive Christ.

Scripture Distribution Is An Answer To A Teacher’s Prayers

“I have been praying for you to come.” Those were the first words of a school director to Gideons as they walked through the door. “Thank you so much for the work you are doing,” she added. The team explained that in some countries, Gideons are not permitted to enter many of the schools. Shocked by this news, the teacher broke down in tears. As they began to make the distributions in each classroom, the teacher would speak to the children first. “Here’s an American who has come to give you God’s Word. He has traveled a long way to do this, so please take this gift and read it. And have your parents and siblings read it as well.”

The Boy Who Said He’d Never Become A Gideon

Today Panama has 23 Gideon camps and nearly 200 Gideons and Auxiliary. In 1959, Dan Pagenta’s father was an American businessman living in Panama. That year, he started the first Gideon camp in Panama with five other Americans. Back then, Dan had no intention of following in his father’s footsteps, declaring, “I’ll never become a Gideon.”

However, time and God have a way of changing a heart. Today Dan serves as a Gideon in Florida. For him, this ISB wasn’t just an opportunity to share God’s Word beyond U.S. borders. It was an opportunity to witness to the people of the country where he grew up. In fact, it was the first time he had been to Panama in twelve years.

“The parakeets in the mango trees, the rain forests…they all brought back memories,” says Dan. “And the fact that Panama remains completely open to Scriptures is amazing.”

One of the more emotional moments for Dan on this ISB was getting to present Scriptures to Panama’s border guards who were preparing for deployment into the jungles to guard against drug traffickers. Earlier in his life, Dan served as a scout in the area where the forces were stationed. His fond memories of those earlier days, combined with the raw emotions of sharing God’s Word with these brave Panamanian Special Forces as they prepared for a dangerous mission, brought tears to his eyes.

Thank You For Your Prayers And Support

By the end of the week, the teams had distributed more than 128,000 copies of God’s Word in Panama City and surrounding areas—nearly double their original goal.

The Gideons International would like to thank the Panama Presidential Police for all of their help in assisting our teams in navigating through the traffic and for even helping unload the boxes filled with Scriptures. We thank the Gideons and Auxiliary in Panama and our members from other countries who traveled to Panama at their own expense to help share God’s Word. We also thank the churches who partnered with us in this blitz as well as our donors who provided the funds for the Scriptures distributed. And we thank our members who lifted this blitz up in prayer.

Most of all, we thank our Heavenly Father and give Him all the glory for the success of this blitz and for the testimonies already received, and for those we will receive from Panama in the months and years ahead. What a mighty God we serve.

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