The Red Devils are going away!

Change is happening rapidly in Panama!  The buses, affectionately known as “Red Devils”, which have been a means of transport throughout the capital and across the isthmus for over 50 years, are now being replaced by new air conditioned buses with provision for handicapped passengers.
Photo of Bus

Riding in one of these new buses is a far different experience  from the past where loud music, coin‑tapping passengers, bold artwork both inside and out along with slogans often boasting the owner’s prowess, were part of a culture that is fast disappearing.  Flying past the city towards the airport and seeing the high buildings reaching skyward is reminiscent of cities such as Miami, Florida.

Construction has now started on a subway system, a first in Central America.  With all the changes happening in this hot tropical country which bridges the Americas, we can only wonder how the Truth will prosper in the rapidly expanding Panama City and the fast deteriorating city of Colon.

With few young people in the two ecclesias on each side of the isthmus, both groups are
aging and only two sisters remain from the early work done in preaching during the 60’s.  The faithful example of those who make up the ecclesias in Panama City and Colon is a joy to experience as I was privileged to do for a week over the New Year.  Brother Ian and Sister Nishla Neblett provided their commercial banquet hall for a buffet breakfast followed by two Bible Studies which were well attended by the brothers and sisters in Colon.  The day following, Sunday, almost all the Brothers and Sisters from Colon travelled in three vehicles to Panama City where we enjoyed fellowship at the Breaking of Bread, a lunch prepared by the Sisters and a further Bible study.  These times of fellowship are precious indeed and become a very joyous occasion for the two groups who are quite isolated from each other by the distance across the isthmus, and even in Panama City itself it is now progressively more difficult to get around due to the increase in traffic.

For the brothers and sisters to visit each other requires a bus ride of up to two hours each way and this limits the amount of fellowship that they are able to have during the week.

Looking back over the thirty-nine years since my wife, Beth, and I first arrived in Panama for a four‑and‑a‑half year stay, I marvel how quickly this country has changed.  I also give thanks to our Heavenly Father and to He “who walks amidst the lampstands” that there remains a remnant, a small group in this small but vibrant country, who keep the faith.  Our prayers are with them.

Brother Gordon Dangerfield
Victoria, BC

New Ecclesial Hall in El Salvador

About two hours from the Capitol City of San Salvador lies Usulutan, El Salvador.  The Brethren in San Salvador have had significant response to their preaching efforts in Usulutan, and have made the drive for many years every Sunday.

They’ve had many baptisms over the years, and with five more this Summer, have a large Ecclesia established in this city of about 50,000.

After meeting in rented halls for many years, the Brethren have found a suitable location to purchase.  With the help of the Brotherhood through the CBMA Building Fund, they have purchased a piece of land with an old building on it.

Here is a picture of the Ecclesia having Bible Class in the current Building.

Plans are underway to build a newer, more appropriate building once the funds are available.

Brother Don Luff recently visited El Salvador, and enjoyed a visit in Usulutan.  Like all Ecclesias, there was a wonderful meal after Memorial Service.










Brother Don also attended a Fraternal Gathering in San Salvador.







Brother Don reports on a busy day:

As if an exhortation, 2 talks, and a full meal wasn’t enough, there was a memory verse challenge.  This lasted about an hour after lunch!  In the children’s section Eduardo Mate (Jaime and Karla’s son – Age 11) recited about 35 verses and Krissia Lea Castillo (Rene and Crisia’s daughter – Age 10) recited about 30 verses.  Both with very little prompting – I was amazed!
But the topper was 2 adults.  Jorge Augusto Garcia from the Sonsonate Ecclesia recited 65 verses (Crisia’s brother) with very little trouble – this included the whole epistle of Philemon!   Then Crisia recited 76 verses from all over the Bible – she broke down crying reciting a good portion of Psalm 139 – I wondered what happened.  Her husband Rene was presiding about 4 feet from and had to hold on to her until she composed herself.  She was finally able the turn to the audience and told us that it was one of her her favorite Psalms – she finished a few more verses of the Psalm and went on to other passages.  Krissia, Crisia and Jorge are all of the same family!   I could hardly believe what I just witnessed.  I was humbled by this and other indicators of the level of spirituality throughout the day.  We arrived at the Hall for the 9:30 Breaking of Bread and left at about 4:30 – what a day!  I tried to give my best for all ages present, but I feel I received more in return.   What an uplifting experience!

Brother Don also visited Guatemala after El Salvador, and was encouraged by the work going on there.

Campaign in Guadalajara

I’ve always wondered what contribution I could make to ecclesias in Latin lands.  While I took Spanish in high school, I certainly would never claim to have Spanish fluency. I have wondered if I took a trip to one of our ecclesias in Mexico, Central or South America whether I could really make any tangible contribution?  Would the visit be for the benefit of my brethren, or really all about me?

In early August, I had the pleasure of joining a group of brothers and sisters from North America who participated in a campaign in Guadalajara.  Few of us had any usable Spanish speaking skills.  We were eager to serve in whatever capacity we could.  The team consisted of a mix of ages – ranging from eighteen to, well, let’s just say a few of us that were more “mature.”   What I re-learned was an important lesson about our God.  He uses what we are capable of offering and provides, in His way, a blessing to compensate for what we cannot.

The work centered around the city of Guadalajara, a city of more than 7 million.  The ecclesia in Guadalajara is thriving and growing.  Sis. Cindy Paiva and Bro. David Lloyd (Link Man for Guadalajara) planned the activities for the week.  I would choose the word “resourcefulness” to describe their use of the team.   Rather than focusing on what we could not do, we engaged in a multitude of activities that, through the blessing of our Heavenly Father, led men and women to the Bible Study Center where the ecclesia meets.  At the end of the week, each of us had distributed several thousand leaflets, created Sunday School lessons for future use and updated essential computer records for contact follow-up.  In all, more than a dozen men and women came to the advertised classes and public Bible readings and about the same number registered to begin receiving the postal correspondence course. It is rare to have the opportunity in a week’s time to see the response to a team’s work.  We were all greatly uplifted.

Distributing leaflets in Guadalajara is FAR different than in North America. Men and women are receptive to the leaflets.  They actually stop at intersections and wait for you to hand it to them.  As you can see from the photo shown here, we were excited to see them pause to read the leaflet, often while they were waiting for the crosswalk light to change.  There were a few occasions where we were engaged in dialogue by recipients. In some cases, they helped us out by themselves trying to speak a little English. But, remarkably, I found myself able to cobble together just enough Spanish to answer their questions. The work was not tedious and as a team and we found ourselves looking forward to the distribution of the leaflets.

What will remain with me are the loving and close relationships we developed with the brothers and sisters in Guadalajara. The story of each brother and sister is truly amazing and a clear witness of the hand of the Lord in the ecclesia. What I learned was that the team’s presence in Guadalajara was not only encouraging to us, but highly encouraging to the members too.

Sis. Cindy Paiva has been living in Guadalajara since 2003. She and her late husband, Bro. Carl, were instrumental in forming the ecclesia and Sis. Cindy remains thoroughly immersed in the daily work. There have been many volunteers from North America who have come to help the ecclesia. The San Diego, CA Ecclesia, particularly has been a great help over the past few years. Sis. Cindy excels at finding useful work that members can do, based on their interests and capabilities. Why don’t you try going down to Guadalajara and see what good work God can accomplish with you?

—Brother David Jennings

Wedding in Costa Rica

Here in the United States, there are countless marriages where a friendship began at a Bible School or CYC activity. What if there was only one Bible School a year you could attend and that was held in another country where you don’t even live?

Sister Zuelan Cascante (21) from Costa Rica and Brother Neftali Espinoza (23) from El Salvador met due the yearend Bible Schools in Costa Rica and El Salvador, and were engaged to be married.

They were married in the Santa Barbara, Costa Rican Hall on April 23rd. The hall looks very presentable, since about 2 years ago they repainted and installed new lighting. We pray for God’s richest blessings on their married life in the Truth. This is a good example of even closer relations and fellowship for the Central American Ecclesias.