Panama Mission Report, 2015

DYING TO MYSELF THAT I MAY BEAR MUCH FRUIT

Key Verse: John 12:24, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Hello, I am M. Josué Gutierrez from Panamá. I was born in Caracas on October 17, 1983. In 2000, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and began to attend a small local church, but due to my sin I abandoned the church in 2004. That same year, the Lord called me to begin a new life of faith at Caracas UBF where I could learn a lot about the grace and love of God and grow as a shepherd. In 2011, the Lord opened the door for my wife and I to go out as missionaries to Panamá to co-work with M. Juan Baek’s family.

I went to Panama based on Acts 26:16-18, “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” I had vision to go to Panamá as a witness of what I have seen and experienced in the Gospel to open the eyes of Panamanian people to the light of Jesus. 

However, my life of mission in Panamá has not been what I thought it would be like. Throughout almost 5 years since I have been here, I feel I have not been a witness of the Gospel, but have instead worked and labored for myself. God, in His grace, has helped my family very much in this time. Thank God our family is established financially and we even have a Panamanian daughter. Nonetheless, I repent because I see that my house is well paneled but the house of God is deserted (Haggai 1:4).

At first, we co-worked well with the Baek family in Panamá and even after God called them to co-work in the ministry of Venezuela in 2013, we served the ministry with much strength. In this way, our number of participants grew to the point that we had to buy new chairs, Bibles and hymn books because we did not have enough. But little by little we began losing our strength due to many responsibilities that drowned us. Our jobs are very demanding especially mine. Many times I have to stay at work till late at night or work on weekends. M. Maria also has to work on Saturdays during four months of the year.

In order to improve my preparation and obtain a better job, I studied an MBA in Finance from October 2013 until March 2015 and currently I am finishing a Post Graduate Degree in Higher Education with the hope of teaching at the university. However, this has added another cross to my life. In the past years, I have carried the crosses of work, study, ministry and family. This had made me feel drained. After our daughter Maria Celeste was born in October of 2014, things have become more complicated because we have to work, study, serve the ministry and serve two children without anyone to help us. For these reasons, 2015 has been especially difficult for us.   

However, in God’s grace we received many blessings that strengthened us to persevere. I received permanent residency and my identification as a Panamanian. I graduated with my MBA in Finance for the glory of God. Also, brother Jean Carlos has been very faithful to Spanish Worship Service and Bible Study despite many spiritual struggles. We could participate in the Regional Conference of Northern South America in Venezuela where I preached one of the main messages and Jean Carlos served as a morning messenger. 

As I observed brother Jean Carlos’ faithfulness and in order to help him in his spiritual struggles, we had a humble ceremony last October ordaining him as the Abraham of faith of Panamá, changing his name to Abraham Jean. This has greatly encouraged him to serve the young students of Panamá. We are praying for him to enter the University of Panamá so that he may preach the Gospel to young Panamanians from within the mission field. 

Serving the work of God in Panamá has been very difficult. Due to my sin and lack of diligence to serve God, our ministry could not grow. In fact it has decreased much and now only brother Jean Carlos faithfully participates with us. So for 2015 I held to John 12:24 as my key verse. I need to die to myself in order to bear much fruit. Struggling to hold on to this verse, I visited the campus weekly during the evenings after work but I found no students and could not establish faithful one-to-one Bible studies. So I became very discouraged and many responsibilities newly absorbed me. 

However, in 2016, I want to newly hold on to this verse so that I may struggle to die to selfishness and bear fruit in the Gospel. My personal prayer is to fish a new student and faithfully serve him with Bible Study and to raise Jean as a faithful disciple of Jesus who can witness to Jesus at the University of Panamá and wherever he goes. 

    Our ministry’s prayer topics are the following

  • Double the Sunday Worship Service attendants and weekly 1:1 Bible Studies (M. Josué, M. María & Abraham Jean may each have a new Bible student).
  • Raise Abraham Jean as a disciple of Jesus and prepare him for baptism this year.
  • M. Josué may obtain a new job that enables him to better serve the work of God.
  • For the health of M. Juan and Susana Baek. That they may co-work well in the ministry of Venezuela.
  • That God may fill M. Josué with the Holy Spirit to continuously prepare Sunday messages based on Genesis.
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