Well everyone, the work here in Panama has officially begun! And what a joy it’s been to begin serving Isaac and the local Panama AIA ministry.
While we have been hard at work, we’ve also had some time to explore shops in Panama, catch some of the World Cup games and even attend a church service at the home church of Isaac, O Joy and Selenga, the local AIA Panama workers. One of our very own staff members, Craig Voskamp, even helped lead worship that Sunday morning.
We’ve even been featured on a local radio station! One of our AIA staff, Joanna Geck, and a tour participant, Jenna Wild, had the opportunity to share about what Athlete’s in Action is doing here in Panama.
All of these things have been great ways to recharge and spend time enjoying community after some long days. But nonetheless, every long day has been so rich and fulfilling.
Our work began with a men’s game versus a local under 20 soccer academy called Vagoso. This team provided quite the challenge for our men’s team, with these young players competing at the highest level here in Panama.
And despite a tough loss, the work was only just beginning once the game ended. This game would provide the platform necessary for a much greater purpose afterwards.
After the game, our athletes had the opportunity to share the gospel and a personal faith story with the entire Vagoso team. And this friends, is why we’re here. Yes, it’s incredible to play soccer internationally, and it would be awesome to win every game, but nothing compares to having the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with these athletes. And to us, that’s the real win.
The next games would be for both the men and women at a private school called Colegio Real de Panama where a local AIA baseball staff, Greggory, works. Here, each team would get to play their high school students boy’s and girl’s soccer teams.
And like I mentioned in our previous blog, the next day would be the day the women would play Panama’s National Soccer team (I’m still freaking out inside a little bit), and the men would play against a local university team, Universidad Latina de Panama.
And the same formula ensued. After each game, no matter how big or small, each team was able to share the gospel and a personal story of how God intersected with someone’s life, and changed their life. You might think this formula would get old and repetitive. But truthfully, that just hasn’t been the case. And I think that has a lot to do with how dynamic and vibrant our God is.
And finally, this past Monday we were given the opportunity to go and serve at a local orphanage called Aldeas Infantiles SOS. We ran a 2 hour mini version of soccer camp for these precious kids and I can say confidently that each person left with full hearts.
We were there to love these children and leave a lasting impact by sharing the love of Jesus with them. We hope and trust that we accomplished that, but truly, those kids were the ones who made a deep and lasting impact in our lives.
That’s the beautiful thing about serving selflessly. It’s never about you, but the reward always seems to be so fulfilling.