The Panama Bridge
18 months to the fourth largest Spanish ministry in the Americas!
by Jim Fleming, Global Director
The Panama Canal has connected the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans since 1914, but it was not until 1962 that there was a car bridge over the canal to connect South and Central America. Since the 1960s there have been Emmaus schools in South and Central America, but never in Panama. Over the past 10 years, almost all of Emmaus in Central America was shut down due to a change in missionary force.
Enter Panama! Gregorio Taborda made a couple of visits as Regional Coordinator with a vision to open Central America and the Caribbean. The Lord orchestrated contact with Abdel Velasquez; Abdel is a Baptist pastor who has studied some of our courses. When he found out we were looking for a Country Director, he immediately began the process of starting Emmaus Panama through their Baptist churches. Two years later, the program is growing in various parts of the country. In June, I attended their first graduation—35 students that have finished the first level of 12 courses and received their diploma.
Panama is (literally!) the bridge that Gregorio needs to get into other Central American countries. He is presently working on new contacts in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. In addition, he has visited Honduras several times and reignited the work in that country. In 18 months, it went from almost nothing to become the fourth biggest Spanish school in the Americas!
Praise God that Emmaus courses are bridging the Panama Canal and moving north again!
The fascinating Panama Canal: 80 ships per day, 48 miles long, 5 sets of locks that raise the ships 85 feet above sea level.
Gregorio unpacking the 850 courses we brought from Colombia for Panama. Abdel Velasquez and his wife oversee the work.
Graduates who have finished their first level of 12 courses.
First Emmaus Panama Conference. Students from various denominations attended.