Have you heard about our Great Initiative in Panamá?

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 ALL of the missionaries with ALL of their monthly support has never happened before but that’s exactly what we’re asking God for: 100% with 100% and we’re inviting everyone to get on board! This will take a huge effort from lots of partnerships to reach our goal but together we can do it and then reach even more people for Christ than ever!

 Here’s How You Can Help: 

1) First, we ask you to pray with us and for our team because we are totally depending on the Lord for this. This is a spiritual endeavor and God is the real source of all our provision so please pray with us for what God will do in this coming year. We can’t stop until all of our team has reached 100% of their monthly funding. 

2) Second, we ask you to consider letting God use you to support one or more of our missionaries. Nobody can do everything but if you can help one you are really helping all of us because we are a team and when one wins we all win! For your easy reference and to help clarify the need, approximately ($40 per month is = 1% of support). 

Below is the current information for our missionaries that need to reach full monthly support. We thank each of you for being willing to consider being part of this ministry to continue reaching youth and children with the Gospel of Jesus Christ around Panama. You are part of us!!! 

Click below to help these missionaries build their partnerships and support. Help them go from the percent they have all the way to 100%! This info will be updated monthly.

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Have you heard about our BIG CHANGE?

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Our family has a really big announcement! After 7 wonderful years with a great mission organization, (ReachGlobal – the official mission agency of the EFCA Denomination) we believe the Lord is giving us a new assignment.  We won’t be changing countries or even changing houses but we are changing to a different mission agency! As of the end of this coming June, we will be officially serving with Word of Life in Panama!

Why the change?

Well we are not leaving ReachGlobal because we had a bad experience. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We had a great experience.  We have learned a ton over the years from their leadership and training and we have made many wonderful relationships.  I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone as a great mission organization.

We are leaving because we have a peace that God has released us from our work. We believe that God called us for a time to launch and lead the ReachGlobal team and now he is calling us onward to lead a new team.  Those that know us, also know that the Word of Life team in Panama has been a part of our journey as well.  In fact, we have actually known many of the Word of Life missionaries longer than the ReachGlobal team that we pioneered.  This is because my first time to Panama was in 2006, I (Jon) had come with a youth group of 43 people at the invitation of Mirko Delibasich, the founder and former director or Word of Life in Panama. My friendship with Mirko and his wife Traci, continued to grow over time and eventually Mirko was the one that God used to invite Bianca and I both to pray about serving the churches in Panama back in 2011.

It was through Mirko, that we believe God called our family to serve here in the first place and the plan was always to serve in a strategic, complimentary way to their ministry. Word of Life would evangelize and ReachGlobal would work to start or strengthen churches to disciple all the new Christians. That plan was dramatically impacted when Mirko suddenly passed away from a heart attack in June 2017.  Consequently, the Word of Life ministry in Panama has expereinced a lot of challenges and changes since then.  Now, because of our history, context and relationships we believe that God has uniquely positioned us to lead the Word of Life team in Panama in this next chapter of ministry and we couldn’t be more excited about it!

What will happen to the ReachGlobal team? 

We are grateful to the Lord for the fact that we believe we are leaving the ReachGlobal team in a really good place.  The team is healthy and strong and everyone is serving in their respective areas.  Mike and Peggy are developing Latino Missionaries to serve around the world.  Frank and Silvia have built a Pastors Network in Panama that has become a critical tool for training and encouragement of church pastors and their wives.  Matt and Angie have done an extraordinary job of leading Global Fingerprints in Panama which is a child sponsorship program designed to help churches minister to the most vulnerable children in their communities.  Sarah K. is now working diligently in language learning school in order to begin her ministry around Panama in 2020.  We are extremely proud of all of our teammates in ReachGlobal and we are still here for them when they need us.

As for leadership, there is a short-term and long-term plan. The Long-term plan is to pray for the Lord to provide the right person to lead the next chapter of ministry for that team but the short-term plan is that the ReachGlobal Area Director will lead and care for the Panama team with the help of Mike and Peggy Lowe on the ground here in Panama. Mike and Peggy have a lot of life and ministry experience and we are confident that they will do a great job in the meantime.

What does the new ministry look like for the Fowler’s?

This new ministry will be an exciting challenge for us that we are eager to begin though we will need to depend on the Lord completely to achieve. Our new team consists of 17 other adult missionaries (besides Bianca and myself) and not counting all the kids.  The majority of those missionaries are latino, which means that our meetings and conversations will all be in Spanish. In addition, we will be in charge of ministry properties. One is a campground in Chame, Panama which is the site of our youth camps every January and February and a host of other events throughout the year. There is also an office space in Panama City that is used for meetings and conferences and launching baby churches.  The year is generally built around Youth Bible Clubs that happen around Panama in various churches and these culminate at camp season every January and February.  The rest of the time, we will be focused on the faithful proclamation of the Gospel all over Panama.

How can you help? 

Well I am so glad you asked!!! There are always ways to help but the two most obvious are prayer and financial support. If you want to pray for us, we invite you to send us your email and we will add you to our Newsletter that we send out every 2-3 months. You can also contact us whenever you want just to chat and we can give you the latest prayer requests. Occasionally we will use Facebook to update people as well.   The second way to help us is with financial support.

I know there is no shortage of people or groups asking for money these days but I want to challenge you to remember that all of your money is already the Lords’ money and so is mine! Everything we have already belongs to the Lord and He wants us to be involved in missions because He wants the world to know who He is! This means we must go and proclaim Him among the nations until He returns!  This means that some people will be going and they will stand on the support of those that are sending.  That’s where many of you come in! We need people to support us, in order to be sent. Without the generosity of the people that God uses every day around the world so many ministries would not exist. If you are willing, we would welcome your help financially. This new ministry is bigger than anything we have ever attempted and the financial burden is heavy. You will be able to give and help our support, help the support of the national missionaries and help with multiple projects happening around the camp. When camp season rolls around we will also need scholarships for kids to attend the greatest week of their young lives. There are so many ways your giving can make a difference that it is amazing. We hope that you will stay connected to us to see all that happens and maybe even some of you will actually, physically come and visit in person to encourage us and the work!

If you feel the Lord nudging you to help financially, you can just click here and take the next step. If you have any questions, we welcome the conversation, just reach out to us and let’s see how we can connect. In the end we pray that the Lord is using you too right where you are to introduce others to Jesus Christ or show them how they can grow even closer to Him than ever before.

 

5 Reasons WHY one of the SCARIEST parts of being a missionary…is also one of the most exciting!

 

As a missionary, I naturally talk with lots of people about the prospect of becoming a missionary. It seems to come up without much effort in regular conversations, especially among Christians.  Generally speaking people have a lot of positive reactions to the idea, at least initially.  Though before long, I usually encounter some common objections.  One of the most common reasons for dismissing the notion of being a missionary is the aspect of support-raising. To be honest, I totally understand. I was there and from time to time I still feel anxious about it. However, there have been some discoveries that I’ve made on our journey that have also made that part exhilarating.

 

  1. A Humble Dependence– Support Raising keeps me in a posture of prayer and dependence upon God. I know that we hate to be dependent on others in this life and we literally work to make that not the case but in God’s economy things don’t work quite the same. A sign of spiritual maturity in the life of a believer is not greater independence but more and more dependence upon Him. That is largely because we know that we cannot do anything of lasting importance without God (John 15:4,16). We need Him to be with us and us with Him.

 

  1. A Miraculous View– Support Raising is a chance to watch God move. We’ve all heard the stories of God meeting the needs of people in miraculous ways. Most believe that God is still doing these things but only some have seen or recognize when He is actually doing it. Maybe this is because God is not usually our plan B let alone our plan A. We often find it easier to trust in our insurance, credit cards or favor with men instead of turning to God for our needs. Support raising doesn’t work that way. It is literally a chance to see God supply for your needs on a constant basis. Even though he uses his people to supply for the need, it is no less miraculous. We are always blown away when God moves on his people to remember us and be generous to his work.

 

  1. A Spiritual Network– Support Raising is an incredible way to watch God get people into what he is doing around the Globe. Probably every missionary has wondered what missions would be like if God had made us all independently wealthy and we could have funded all of our ministry by ourselves. My next thought is usually “How sad that would have been!”. Only later in the journey did I realize, that God had used our relationships and connections to gather people’s attention on his work from around the globe. We tend to care about where our money goes. That curious reality takes effect when we have to invite others to help us. God builds up his spiritual network around the globe that is invested and focused on His grand plan of redemption!

 

  1. A God-Sized Scope– Support Raising is a constant reminder that all of this is much bigger than me and what have or what I can do. We are constantly reminded of the fact that we need the resources that only God can supply through his people to accomplish His work. Otherwise, this would only go as far as what I have or what I can do and that quite simply, would not be a God-sized work. A God-sized work requires God-sized resources and no single person or church has that on their own. We must support raise to see that happen.

 

  1. A Faith Boost– Support Raising, as cliché as it sounds, has actually deepened our faith. We have learned a lot of lessons since we began this journey but one of the biggest is that God has never left us. He has taken care of us time after time and then some.  We can literally never say that “God can’t do it” because we have seen Him do so much. Nothing is impossible for him. Now that doesn’t mean that we aren’t tempted to doubt or lose faith like everyone else, but it does mean that when we do we have a lot to look back upon to boost our faith when we are in that place. God has done so much in the past that we look backwards to help us walk forwards! That is faith. We know that the same God he was, is the same God he is and will be again! He is faithful!

 

I share all this with the hope of encouraging. If you have ever considered that God may be calling you to be a missionary but you have let support raising deter you, consider that the biggest reason you don’t want to take that step might be one of the biggest reason why you should. If you let him, God will turn your fears into blessings but only as you seek to obey him in faithfulness.  Oh and by the way, if you feel like being part of our help as the Fowler’s seek to do the Lord’s work in Panama, just click here! (:

Stopping to Praise the Lord

Unfortunately, I don’t stop as often as I should to turn around and acknowledge all that the Lord has done or is doing. That’s why I wanted to pause to highlight what happened this past week when Pathway Church sent down their first short-term team to Panama to help with our church plant and the whole ReachGlobal missionary team!  There are so many stories so I will just write short versions underneath some pictures to keep it brief.

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It took a few days to prepare but we had lots of help! All in all, our volunteers for this event were usually between 35-40 people! Combining the Church team of Refugio de Gracia, the ReachGlobal Missionaries, and the Short Term Team from Pathway Church plus many people praying for us in and outside of Panama!

 

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Every child heard the Gospel and many responded! Some of these children come from some of the hardest neighborhoods around Panama City. One community is where the city of Panama takes it’s trash and on one day we had 52 kids come just from that neighborhood! Many of these kids live in difficult circumstances where they are afraid for their lives because of bad family situations or the high level of crime in their areas. Please keep praying for the seeds of the Gospel that have been planted in their hearts!

 

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The final day we snapped this photo but their are still many kids that are not in this picture. God blew our minds with the amount of kids that wanted to come to this event! We wanted to use this VBS strategically.  Before there were not many that even knew about our church plant in the community but our church is not a secret anymore! Praise God! We have many neighbors interested in coming to our church and even teens that have come to our youth group now as a result! Some of the new visitors have also turned to Christ as well! God is doing many things and we are thankful!

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Pathway Church responded and helped us pull this off! Cory St. Espirit and I talked just a few months ago about how possible this would be for them to come and help us with this event for our Church Plant and in a very short period of time they made it happen! We are thankful and we know this wouldn’t have happened this way without their! Thank You Pathway and we look forward to what the future holds with both of our ministries!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We are very grateful to be able to be here helping this church and others in Panama! Please keep following the Fowler’s!!!

10 Foto Fav’s

This Monday morning the Fowler boys will start another year of homeschool and summer will officially be over! What a great summer it was too!  Therefore, I thought instead of another boring “summer summary” that I would just share 10 Foto-Favorites that highlight the last few months! I hope you enjoy them.  As always, please keep our family and ministry in your prayers!

  1. This was our last short-term team hosted before coming Stateside. (Faith Church – WI).  We had a great time doing serving together with this youth group and praise God for the start of a great partnership.IMG_1125.jpg
  2. The “Most-Magical-Baseball-Day-Ever” is how we will remember this day! On Friday, June 29 our whole family plus cousins and Grandparents, finally all made it to Wrigley field to watch the Chicago Cubs play live Baseball at home!  As we took our seats Eli said…”We are actually here! That place we always see on TV…We are actually here!” It was memorable for so many reasons but that was the first quote that made my smile! The second moment was when the Cubs Short Stop Addison Russel crushed a Grand Slam that brought the cubs back on top and set off a hitting spree that eventually buried the Twins!IMG_2435.jpg
  3. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better! The game itself would have been more than enough but after the game our kids were all hoping for at least one signature from a cub player which absolutely everyone said was going to be next to impossible. Then finally Ben Zobrist (the 2016 World Series MVP and a Christian) came out of the dugout at the last possible second before we were all asked to leave…and signed all the kids hats and even a baseball of Ethan’s to seal this day in their memories forever!IMG_1148.jpg
  4. In July a youth group of Missionary Kid’s gathered in Kansas City for the bi-annual EFCA youth group event called “Challenge”.  There were over 4000 kids from other youth ministries gathered at this event and it was unforgettable for our two oldest boys, Ethan and Ezra.  While Eli had a great week with Grandma and Grandpa up north our older two had the chance to bond with kids from the USA, Turkey, Jordan, Germany, Haiti, Tanzania, Mexico, Cameroon, Thailand, Hungary, Czech Republic Russia, Romania and that was just in our little group. Counting Panama our little temporary youth group was comprised of 12 countries and it continues to be one of the biggest highlights for Ethan and Ezra of the entire summer.  To them the world is so much smaller and personal than it was for Bianca and I growing up!IMG_2535.jpg
  5. Watching the bonding was a blessing to our hearts. Our kids connected so fast with this group and we are already looking forward to the next time!IMG_2520.jpg
  6. Later up north…my parents were waiting for us to finally visit their new house up in Northern Minnesota and we all made it there.  It was great to see family all together and have some time to rest.  We fished, kayaked, hiked and ate lots of great food. We thank the Lord for the chance we had to see them all. My sisters dog and my cousin’s baby also made a cameo appearance in this pic too!IMG_2570.jpg
  7. In pursuit of good food with good company, we even to a drive to the border of Canada and visited a place I went to as a young boy all the way up in Ely, Minn. called  Britton’s Cafe.  The place was small but the Pancakes were huge and now three generations of Fowlers can say that they have been there!IMG_2589.jpg 10-bIMG_1274.jpg
  8.  We were only in the USA for a month, during which time we traveled around the midwest.  We were in Chicago, Kansas City, Northern Minnesota, Southern Minnesota and Wisconsin before we returned to Panama.  When we got back, it was a sweet reunion and a joy to find our church and our missionaries doing well. We praise God for our church plant and our ReachGlobal Team!IMG_2686.jpg
  9. After our trip to the USA and return to Panama we didn’t stay long before our bi-annual, ReachGlobal Missionary Conference in Costa Rica. We were excited to be together as a whole team for a week, to learn, to network,  and strategize.  We were even able to have our next teammate (Sarah Kolaczinsky) join us who is still in support raising mode in the States. I believe it was a blessing to us all! (Frank & Silvia Saavedra, Matt & Angie Johnson, Sarah Kolaczinsky, Jon & Bianca Fowler, Mike & Peggy Lowe)IMG_1471.jpg
  10. The Latin America/Caribbean ReachGlobal Conference in Costa Rica was our close to the summer travel.  It only happens every other year but when we are together with all these missionaries from all over the region it is more encouraging than words can express. Together there are literally hundreds and perhaps thousands of years of missionary field experience and knowledge in one place. So many of these people are heroes to Bianca and I. We are honored to work with these people and now we have been with them for over six years.76bfa9c2-8b06-4d4c-88c7-bfda50890635.jpg

Please keep praying for our family and ministry.  We stand on the shoulders of so many who came before us and we are only held up there by God’s power and grace and your prayers and support. Our desire is to join the Lord on His mission and obey him and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) from here in Panama and beyond. From Panama we seek to build up His Church and it’s leaders through every vehicle at our disposal.  We work with orphanages, vulnerable children and churches from the city, to the jungle, to the suburbs and the country side. Our teammates are even helping to prepare Latino missionaries and we are hoping to keep building for many years to come. If you want to support us or become part of our partnership team please know that we welcome that and in fact at this time of year our support is down lower than normal.  Please click the link here to start helping us now and pray for us as often as we come to mind.  Thanks and God Bless for following the Fowler’s.

 

Pouring Out My Heart

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Spanish has certain words that I just love. The Word “Derramar” for example means “to pour out, spill over or gush”.  We use it often when it comes to our emotions or feelings being poured out or when we want to pour out our hearts before the Lord.  That is exactly what I want to do with you right now. You are reading this because you are likely one of our friends, family or supporters and you’ve been part of our ministry and following the Fowler’s but I feel like I have to say something that is for all ears and if you feel someone needs to hear it please pass it along.

I must confess.  When it comes to missionary life, some things are way harder than I had ever expected. Many things take much longer and require much more than I had ever anticipated. For example, Language learning, feeling settled as a family and even just paying bills have all proven to be harder than I expected.  On the other hand, many things are way better than I expected and at times I even feel guilty for enjoying those aspects of our life. It think it’s because long ago, we believed a subtle lie that if you are not constantly suffering as a missionary, then you are not doing enough for God. I am so thankful that we learned that is simply not true. The truth is that if you enjoy what God has given you then you will not honor him more by rejecting it, resenting it or feeling guilty.  You will honor him more by just saying “thank you” and always loving the Giver more than the gift.  However, If you do not enjoy what he has given you, then you honor him by thanking Him just the same for giving you the opportunity to worship him through even the difficult circumstances but this takes maturity.

The Apostle Paul experienced a lot of ups and downs and enjoyable and not-so-enjoyable moments in his life but he also experienced the secret to being content in the middle of it all (Phil. 4:11-3). Paul points out that the key is always Christ. Whatever is happening with you or to you – Christ is the Key to making contentment possible in life. He is your anchor in the storm. He is your lifeline when all else fails.  He is your light in the darkness.  Sometimes he will calm the raging sea and sometimes he will be the friend that sits with you in the middle of it.  He cares for us.  He shares with us and He provides for us.  He gives us peace. He gives us joy. He gives us things that we need and many times even things that we want, sometimes just for our enjoyment (1 Tim. 6:17). I am always amazed at how God made the Garden of Eden (and all of nature for that matter), not just suitable for people to live in but beautiful too. He filled the garden (and our world) with food that sustains our bodies but it also tastes good and looks good too. He does all of this and more for us for one simple reason–love.

Jesus loves us. He loves everyone. He loves his creation so much that he gave his life so that human beings could know what real life truly is.  He died on the cross so that those that believe in him and his message could experience complete forgiveness for sins and live life eternally and abundantly as he had intended for us from the beginning.  Jesus knew that a sacrifice for sins had to be made to satisfy the debt of our sin and that only a spotless, pure sacrifice would suffice.  His perfect life was the only solution and he willingly laid it down, all the while knowing that many would hear of it and even then reject his free gift. Can you imagine that? He also laid his life down thinking of the many throughout history who would come to hear of it and believe and forever be changed from the inside-out.  This is the love that we proclaim.  This is the great love that still changes the hardest human hearts. This is the love that stems the tide of evil in the fallen world we live in every day. This love of Jesus Christ is the key to it all guys.  He is the everything. Our only cause. Our only purpose. Jesus is everything.

Lots of things in our lives are different now from what we had expected before we became missionaries but one thing has remained the same–Jesus Christ.  Through it all, Jesus is still the key. He is the only thing worth holding on to.  The only thing worth getting up for and the only thing worth fighting for. He is the only thing that makes our lives make sense and be filled with purpose. He is still the same and always will be.

Oh and by the way, I should mention that this is not just for me and my family.  If you want to know how to start a relationship with Jesus Christ, and experience what I have, it is possible to do at any moment.  Feel free to talk to Him now and acknowledge the fact that you know you need him…that he is the source of true life and forgiveness….that you want to invite him into your life and give your heart over to him…and he will do it. It will be a new beginning for you; a clean slate and your greatest adventure.  He loves you and that’s one thing I know won’t ever change so it is safe to pour out your heart (Derramar) to him now. It doesn’t even matter how it sounds, the important thing is that you do it. If you want to talk to me about this then please just send me a message at (followingthefowlers@gmail.com) and I would be super excited to talk more about this. If not, then I hope this message has blessed you just the same.

 

10 Pics That Make Us Say… Thanks Lord!

Drum roll please!!!  Here they are in random order. 10 Recent photos of life and ministry here in Panama that really make us stop and acknowledge the greatness of our God and what He is doing in us, around us and often in spite of us simply because of WHO he is.

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#1 – Praise the Lord, Cesar has a van!!! God used the generosity of many believers and church partnerships and finally the national director of Global Fingerprints, Cesar Guerra, has a vehicle! 
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#2 – Like a breath of fresh air, Bianca’s family came down to visit us and we took a “stay-cation”.  It was wonderful and we were so thankful to be able to see family. 
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#3 – We finally made it out to Taboga Island and saw the 2nd oldest church in the Western Hemisphere! A reminder that we are just joining God in what he’s been doing for a long time! 
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#4 – Thankful to God of our teammates Frank & Silvia Saavedra.  They have worked so hard raising support for the last year and they have almost finished.  97% (On-going) & 85% (Start-Up).
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#5 – Praising God for the chance to work with the church Refugio de Gracia. Jon is temporarily substitute pastoring for our friend and Bianca and Ethan are helping with worship. It’s a joy.
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#6 – God surprised us with a church partnership this past year that has been a blessing to us over and over. Lord, thank you for sending Springs Church from Springfield Missouri. (Feb.2018 Trip)
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#7 – Praise God for Global Fingerprints, the ReachGlobal Child Sponsorship program here in Panama. It has opened up so many ways of impacting families around Panama for Christ.
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#8 – Thank you Lord for giving us long-standing relationships of trust. By His grace, we will keep building on what we’ve been given for the cause of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20)
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#9 – Thank you Lord for the children that you have helped by your grace and in your great love. 
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#10 – Thank you Lord for providing this beautiful group of people to call my team! (The Fowler’s, The Lowe’s, The Saavedra’s and the newest members…The Johnson’s! 

The Last few months have been a crazy-busy time for us since Christmas with receiving new teammates, having our team retreat, hosting short-term teams and other guests but we have been blessed in countless ways and we want to thank all of the people God has used to build this ministry here in Panama and remind you that this couldn’t happen without you deciding to build with us and for that we just want to thank each one of you.

We also want to thank Adrienne Gerber for her photo contributions.  She captured several of these moments and many others which help us share with others about what the Lord is doing all around in Panama. Thanks Adrienne!