Maybe the title sounds egotistical but let me explain. Down here each day seems to bring new and curious things for our family. We’ve been in Panama almost 4 months now and so far Bianca and the boys and I have almost visited every spot I had any prior experience at. Although this past week was one highlight I have been waiting a long time for.
The Indigenous group we went to visit is the Embera Indians in one of the several villages along the Rio Chagres. The only way to reach them is by canoe because there are no roads to this part of the jungle. In truth, I would have never met any of the Embera without the trusted relationships built over the years through Word of Life and Mirko and Traci Delibasich. Traci in particular has had quite a history as a connector in Panama and I can safely say that we are living proof of that.
On this visit I was hoping to finally introduce my boys to this group of Indigenous and also reconnect with their Pastor again. It had been a long time since I had seen Pastor Valerio Ruiz. He is Embera and has a small church in the village where he seeks to reach his people for Christ, though he feels woefully ill equipped to do so. And though his situation is complicated, he’s actually one person we had in mind to work with throughout our time of support raising back in the States. When I first met him, he was traveling 1 hour by canoe and 3 more by bus to get a few days of training so he could feel prepared to lead his congregation in his village. His sincere conviction and faith have really given me perspective on my small sacrifices for the Gospel. I have a lot of respect for him even though we haven’t spent much time together. I really expected him not to remember me.
When I climbed the hill to look for him by his home, I found him working under his house, which is raised on poles. To my surprise, he acted like he remembered me though I still had my doubts. Until he motioned for me to follow him to a small, concrete building where inside on the wall he pointed to my picture. It was old and it was dirty but it was there held up by tape. There we were, my family and I on the first prayer card I ever had to share with people who wanted to “follow the Fowler’s”. I wasn’t sure what to say. I was greatly humbled. He told me he had been praying for me and had been waiting for me to come. I honestly had no words. Though I felt in that moment, a great responsibility toward this man.
So now I am praying. I am not sure how we can best help him yet but please pray with us to have wisdom as we move forward. I know the Lord wants us to do something but we have a lot more questions to ask and trust to build before we can really serve this Christian brother well and in turn the Embera Indians. I see Valerio as one man with the potential for great influence over his village and many others, if the Lord sees fit to use him that way. Please pray for the following things as the Lord leads:
- Training up/Equipping of Pastors and church leaders like Valerio
- Discipleship of new Christians among the Embera and others
- The Gospel to go forth in and from Panama
- The faithful sharing of God’s Word at all times in all places
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. –Eph 4:15-16
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…Here are some pictures from our brief visit and thanks again …For Following The Fowler’s!