Ministry partner update: ICOMB – September 2022

Introducing the global family 

Iglesia Evangélica Unida- Hermanos Menonitas de Panamá (IEU) 

ICOMB and MWC member conference 

IEU has 16 local churches. Serving the churches, due to the distance between them, is a bit difficult for the conference. For this reason, the conference in Panama works by region. They have five regions and each region has one or two coordinators. Their purpose is to monitor the work assigned by the Assembly. The focus is to disciple the membership, and the leaders and coordinate the work among the churches of the region. 

In addition to the ministries that each local church carries out, there are three general ministries to meet the specific needs of each group. 

We have been able to meet with all the women and have held workshops on specific topics, such as intimacy with God and other related topics. Now, each leader reproduces these workshops in her local church.  

The sisters share impressive testimonies of how they have overcome and strengthened their faith. In the future, they will continue to develop topics according to their needs until they understand what it is to live out their faith in Jesus among their sisters and brothers until they all reach the fullness of Christ. 

The Youth ministry was created under the direction of Giovany and Aurita Peña with plans called Ruta Josué, which to date is what is being developed. This ministry continues its course until it achieves its objective of training young people to reach the unconverted youth. We need many prayers for this ministry. 

Recently a new children’s ministry has been created. Several groups of leaders have been trained by forming teams through a youth group from the Canadian church. It is under the general direction of Girlesa Zuluaga. 

Yaviza discipleship 
It began under Einer Zuluaga with only students of the IEU. With time, many of the Guna people (Wounaan and Latino brothers from Colombia), and the Rama (from Nicaragua) wanted to participate in the discipleship and train their leaders.  

The interest is due to the living testimony of the graduates that they share in their churches since the focus of the school is to disciple with basic biblical foundations with an emphasis on the formation of Christian character and with real practice. In 2021, they closed due to COVID-19. In 2022, they resumed it. Let us pray for this ministry now under the direction of Pastor Dalecio Osorio. 

Stewardship of finances 
The IEU has two projects that are developing under the direction of Obdulio Isarama, called Casa Del Sembrador and Camp Yaviza. These offer social assistance in shelters for leaders of the IEU, leaders of different ethnic groups of the Comarca at the national level, and also to leaders of our partners at the international level, at the same time generate income for the proclamation of the gospel, open new churches, and other related works. Most of all for the self-sustainability of the IEU. 

Missionaries & missions 
Einer and Girlesa Zuluaga (Colombia) have been a blessing to the church through pastoral accompaniment, training and good advice. Lavern Pratt (Canada) has also begun to support the conference. We thank God for these missionaries. 

Now the IEU focuses its vision and mission on the Embera population under the general coordination of Pastor Ricardo Membache. They have selected a very remote region called Jaqué under the direction of a national missionary couple, Clemente and Narsi Donisabe. As a result, they already have an established church.  

In another area called Bajo Lepe, the construction of a chapel has already begun, since there are many attendees and a space to congregate is needed. There are other areas within the Comarca where they are starting with missionary work. It is in a region where they will be exploring new fields to establish churches. 

In addition, they are also working with the Wounaan brothers in Colombia, where the situation is more complicated because the culture has very strong ancestral roots. The progress is very slow. But they trust that sooner or later God will open doors in all these regions. God is already sending leaders to Yaviza UIS Discipleship School, Panama. Pray for Colombia. 

For the IEU, especially for the five churches in the city, the years of the pandemic were very difficult. Anguish reigned in the country, jobs were paralyzed and members worried about how to cope during this time. Many members, leaders, and pastors passed away during this time. Thanks are to God through the brethren of the churches in Canada and the Mennonite World Conference who extended their hands to help during this time. The local churches in the countryside, which had some calmer years in terms of covid, helped with agricultural products. This year the situation has changed a bit. It has all been because of the goodness and mercy of our God who made us survive. To him be the glory. 

Let us pray for the conference in Panama, that God will give them the strength and health to continue in the works that have been entrusted to them. Churches that wish to participate in the above-mentioned works, whether in prayer or finances, are welcome. 

The International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) is made up of 22 national churches in 19 countries. ICOMB also has associate members in more than 20 countries, all at different points along the pathway to full membership. ICOMB exists to facilitate relationships and ministries to enhance the witness and discipleship of its member national churches - connecting, strengthening and expanding.

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