The nation of Panama, situated at the center of the Americas and boasting the world-famous Panama Canal, is a country with a varied and powerful church expression. My wife, who is a native Panamanian, and I have been serving in Panama City for the last 15 years.
When I was approached to write this article regarding the prayer needs of the Panamanian Church, I felt woefully inadequate for the task. I certainly cannot presume to speak for all Panamanian Christian leaders, but I did take the time to talk to a few national-level leaders in Panama regarding prayer needs for their country.
I will share some of their suggestions, as well as needs, derived from my own experiences. While not an exhaustive list, these are some ways you can begin to pray for the church in Panama.
Pray that Panamanian Christians will Know that their Greatest Inheritance is in Heaven
Though research suggests Panama is considered to be the wealthiest country in Central America, there is still a great deal of poverty and corruption throughout the country. According to a study, Panama’s income distribution is the second-worst in Latin America.
Outside of the booming economic center of Panama City, there is desperate poverty throughout the country. The combination of definitive economic potential and the reality of poverty has had the tendency to create an overemphasis on worldly success in the church.
Many Christians are very focused on doing well financially. While there is nothing wrong with this per se, it does make it difficult to establish a large labor force of Christian workers who will go beyond merely showing up to weekly church services. Pray that God will reveal to the Panamanian church the great value of our spiritual inheritance.
Pray for Spiritual and Social Transformation
The economic disparity between geography and class presents a major issue in Panama. Currently, Colon City has a 50% unemployment rate.
According to one study, the indigenous of Panama have a life expectancy of 11 fewer years than everyone else. These statistics represent people who are unable to break free from generational poverty, higher crime rates, and poor education.
Recently, we launched the beginning stages of a project to bring the gospel and economic relief to a red zone area in Panama City. We learned from a believer who lives in the community that the people there have a mentality that they are still outside of the walls of Panama City. They feel overlooked, rejected, and abandoned by the rest of their country.
Pray that the Panamanian church will be used mightily by God to make an impact on these social issues through the power of the gospel message and to the glory of Christ the King.
Pray that Christians will Proclaim the Gospel Boldly
Standing boldly for the gospel has never been popular, but in the current cultural moment, it is acutely difficult. While secularization has affected Panama slower than the Global North, our country is headed in that direction.
In a major urban and cultural center like Panama City, standing boldly for the gospel is becoming less and less acceptable. Pray that all believers would stand strong and fearless for the gospel message in Panama—now more than ever.
Pray for the Families of Pastors
As a pastor myself in the hectic intensity of Panama City, I know how much our families need prayer. Pastors throughout the nation are often overworked, underpaid, and undervalued. Often, families experience collateral damage from stressed-out pastors. Please pray that God will protect and strengthen the families of pastors.
Pray for the Emerging Generation
In Panama, the emerging generation is at high risk of leaving the church, or the faith, completely as they are inundated constantly by messaging that opposes the gospel, to say the least.
Pray that God will cause a revival to begin with these younger generations. We are asking God to produce passionate men and women who desire to see the kingdom advanced.
Pray that Christians will Advocate for the Children of Panama
My wife and I are the adoptive parents of two boys who were orphaned in Panama. We thank God that they are being raised in a godly environment in a stable home. Yet, unfortunately, our two sons are only a drop in the bucket.
Panama has more than 2,000 children living in approximately 57 orphanages. Each year, only 40 to 50 children are adopted. These are staggering numbers for a country of only 4 million people.
While the government creates many of the complications around adoption and foster care, the church can and must do better. Please pray that the Panamanian church will take upon itself the burden and responsibility for these children. Pray that we would stop waiting for outsiders to solve this problem for us.
Pray that the Church will Become a Sending Church
Panama has been blessed with receiving the gospel for almost two centuries. Now is the time for Panama to send missionaries all over the world. Pray that many more Panamanians would have a heart for the mission field. Pray that they would care deeply about the work of God, both within Panama’s borders and globally.