New Hope in Panama
June 1, 2003 - During three consecutive evenings, evangelistic programs aired on national television. The first program featured a message by Franklin Graham, the second a message by Billy Graham, and the third featured "Road to Redemption," a film from World Wide Pictures Inc. What makes Mi Esperanza special, however, is the participation of churches and individual Christians. Half the evangelical churches in Panama participated in the outreach, as more than 20,000 people hosted evangelistic house parties to which they invited non-Christian friends.
by Bob Paulson
Results were still coming in as this magazine went to press, but early reports indicated that many people came to faith in Christ at house parties and other meetings.
One family invited seven people, who on their own invited seven others to come with them. All 14 guests committed their lives to Christ on the first night of the outreach.
A pastor in Gamboa received permission from a resort to show videos of the first two programs to the Indian tribes living near the resort. More than 25 arrived by boat from the Wounaan and Embera tribes, and after they were shown the video, 12 responded to the invitation to receive or to recommit their lives to Christ.
Three sessions were held at a maximum-security prison. Organizers invited the most dangerous inmates to the airing of the programs, and more than 200 made decisions for Christ.
A pastor of a 100-member congregation said that by the end of the three nights, more than 70 people in his neighborhood had made decisions for Christ, and between 50 and 60 new believers attended his Good Friday and Easter services.
A telephone center received more than 1,000 calls in response to the programs. On the first night, a man received two calls from people thinking about committing suicide: one a 16-year-old and the other a battered woman. Both accepted Christ and said not only that they were dropping their original plans but also that something marvelous had happened in their hearts.
One call on the third evening came from the nephew of a pastor of a large church. The nephew called to receive Christ. He said that his uncle had preached to him for years, but the film had brought the message of salvation home in a personal way.
That same evening, at 8 p.m. in the city of Colón, a local bakery clerk asked her lone customer where everyone was. The customer said, "You must be the only person in Colón who doesn't know about Mi Esperanza."
Pastors will be following up with new believers, as will many of the house-party hosts. In addition, radio programs for new believers are being aired throughout the nation.