Here at Mandeville Christian Fellowship Church we are excited about mission work, both foreign and domestic. While it is well known that the individuals of this church are personally very generous givers to mission projects, the church itself sets aside a tithe offering of its gross revenue for that purpose.
Here at home in addition to our food pantry that helps many families weekly, we have had many small projects to help the disadvantage locally. In addition to maintaining these local mission projects, it is our goal to provide a safe, spiritually uplifting and Christ centered place for local youth to have such events as their skate boarding nights.
On the foreign front, we have inspired and supported individuals to do mission work from northern Alaska through much of Central America and abroad, and have been involved directly in missions to Mexico, Venezuela, and Panama. The church has recently concluded its successful mission to Venezuela just north west of Lake Maracaibo to the Wayuu Indians. They successfully bridged the gap between a mission and a church! After supporting organization, local mission and pastor for many years it was apparent that they had grown sufficiently enough to support themselves and able to take up an evangelical mission on their own.
Our church is now supporting a new and more accessible mission in the mountains of Northwestern Panama. Here the Nobel Bugle Indians have reservation or Comarca as they call it. To get a local perspective, it is about the size of Saint Tammany, Washington and Tangipahoa parishes combined. It has only one paved road that runs up to Hato Chami and Escopeta where the Cerro Colorado copper mine is. To gain a perspective on how these people rank socially in the country one needs to understand that this is the worlds largest copper mine in the. And even though it is on their land this road is the only benefit these people derive from this mine. Similarly, since their land is sent aside internationally for non development, it is illegal to bring them electricity even if they could afford it. The only way these people have to make a living on the Comarca is through tourism and subsistence farming. The mountainous terrain with its steep slops and generally nutrient poor soil make farming difficult. On the Caribbean slope there is no dry season and tropical forest dominating the landscape? On the Pacific slope there is a windy dry season (Dec. to April) and a wet season. With more than 10 ft. of annual rain fall small streams and large rivers run on both sides of the continental divide, and are used for bathing, laundry and drinking.
There are two Indian groups living on the Comarca and collectively they are often called by an older name the Guyami. They generally live in small houses supported by sticks with a grass or surplus metal sheeting for a roof, and dirt floor. In each house a platform under the roof is used for storage, and they sleep on raised beds platforms made from sticks. If they need medical attention, or want to make any serious money they must leave the Comarca. They must go to some neighboring town like Boquete to pick coffee where a man might earn $500 to $600 per season, and a family maybe earns $900 for the season.
The small town of Boquete is an international retirement community, home to many coffee plantations where the Guyami can work. This is where we support an on going medical and evangelical mission through Drs Alan & Debbie Handt. There are few small denominational missions in the area, but this is one of the few places where the Guyami can bet consistent healthcare. Through their clinic they offer daily general medical care, and intermittent dental care. Earlier this year we were blessed to be in person to help set up for an eye surgery clinic where over a hundred Guyami Indians had cataracts removed. This is truly a diversified mission. They do many water and bridge projects, and support over a dozen Indian pastors out on the Comarca. The Handts support a large church and bus ministry at the mission, and even grow vegetables and coffee.
As a church, our goals for next year are to establish a block church on the Comarca, and anything else we can do to help Bro. Alan & Sis. Debbie. We will be leaving this year on a mission trip with our Pastors David and Edna Bankston to teach about tithing. This is very important because it is one of the largest keys to change a mission to a church.
This is such a great place to do a mission trip. The mission is so diverse that anybody can find a place to fit in. Also there are so many ways to help. If you are inspired to help the Guyami or just want to talk about Panama please contact our church or us. Please keep the Guyami Indians of Panama in your prayers!
Scott and Cynthia Brewster
Missionaries to Panama