This past December 4-5,about 65 representatives from 37 Panamanian churches,denominations and other organizations met for a missions consultation. This was not a typical missions conference where one or more keynote speakers urges individuals to go to the mission field or churches to increase their mission giving. It was a time for people to put their heads together in order to see Panamanians reaching the unreached people groups of the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Typically,Latin American countries have seen themselves as mission fields,not as countries whose churches send missionaries to other parts of the world. Panama has been no exception;the churches here have had a receiving mentality and not a sending one. And those few churches who have wanted to send missionaries elsewhere have had to depend on outside help. The denominational churches are often restricted in the type of outreach they employ because of internationally dictated missions policies. Independent churches are usually restricted because they have no one but themselves to look to for finances,training and placement of missionaries. So mission(s) in Panama,whether one is a pastor or layman,ends up meaning “what a foreigner does here”or “planting a daughter/sister church.”
That’s where PAAM comes in. PAAM actually is just a good idea at this point. In Spanish it stands for “Panamanians Reaching the World.”The goal is to send Panamanian missionaries to unreached peoples through strategic alliances with mission organizations around the world. The means is through the churches of Panama forming an cooperative organization that will train,evaluate,fund and send people who have a call to missions. PAAM would also work with the churches in order to promote world missions at all levels of Christian education.
This idea is not new. A Costa Rican organization has functioned like this for over 10 years,as has a Colombian organization. It has even been tried in the past here but has not worked. At this conference,though,there was a true spirit of unity on the subject and we chose to move forward with PAAM. A working group and some consultants were selected and we hope to have a formal proposal approved within six months. We ask your prayers that God would use us in order to bring his glorious Gospel to those peoples who remain in darkness.