The vision for OM Panama was born in the early 1990s. Panamanian Miriam Mendoza started the work of OM in the capital of her country after spending time on both Logos and Doulos. In 1997, pastor Fernando Brown in Panama City took over the leadership.
It wasn't until 2000 that OM International recognized Central America as a Ministry Field with the following four countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama.
In 2001 Fernando Brown stepped down as the country leader for OM Panama; Roger Branda and his wife Elisabetta became the new representatives. In 2005, they decided to move the ministry office and training centre to the quieter city of Volcán, in the province of Chiriquí.
The purpose of OM Panama is to mobilise the national Christians and involve them in trans-cultural world missions and provide quality training for the Christian church. The programmes are focused mostly in areas that are difficult to reach. OM works with four of the main indigenous people groups, which are: Gnobe Bugle, Kuna, Embera, and Teribes.
Panama has been called a rainbow of races. The Christian church calls the country ‘the 10/40 Window of America’. In Panama, five of the largest religions in the world with their respective temples and colonies can be found. These people groups are: Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Catholics, and Jews. Aside from those five there are many other large religious groups such as: The Greek Orthodox Church, the Bahai, the Masons, and Neo-African groups.
Since 2002, OM Panama has been running an intensive International School of Missions for Central American Christians who wish to be sent out with OM or other organisations throughout the world. Through the school the students can also develop leadership skills to work in their churches and discover their ministry strengths.
Each school consists of three intensive months. The first one and a half month, the students receive classes on various subjects in relation to missions. During this time, the students are able to see their own gifts developed and use them. The second month and a half is the outreach phase, in which the students are sent out to do evangelism.
Until 2008, the three month school was organised twice a year, with an average of 10-15 students each time. Many former participants have joined an OM ship or were sent out to different parts of the world; others took leadership positions in their local churches. Starting from 2011, OM Panama plans to extend the three month training with three optional months of mission experience.
In 2006 OM Panama started offering a short term mission programme called Mission Extreme. The duration of the programme is 1 to 2 months, depending on the availability of the participants. The programme is being organised twice a year; it is available for Christians from all nationalities. English is the official language in the programme. Mission Extreme gives the participants the opportunity to meet different ethnic groups in Panama.
The participants spend one week in the OM base for orientation and preparation. After this time, the team leaves to serve amongst indigenous groups in remote areas in Panama. The participants have to walk for several hours to get to the places and then have an unforgettable experience. They see the marvels of our Lord and demonstrate the love of God to needy people; not only in material but also in spiritual things.
After the outreach, the team returns to the OM base. From there, they can go back to their home country or they can choose to stay longer and continue to work with OM Panama, evangelising or assisting in an outreach in another country in Central America.
During Easter and in June or July, OM Panama organises a medical trip in extremely poor areas in the country. The outreach has taken place since 2006; doctors and other volunteers mainly from the USA participate every time. While the people wait to be seen by a doctor, in a school or public health centre, they can experience an evangelism programme. OM always works together with local churches and asks them to follow up on the people who come to know Christ during the medical outreach.
In between the short term activities, OM Panama offers workshops about HIV & AIDS, life values, creative evangelism and Biblical principals in schools, churches or public institutions. The team would love to receive more full time workers with long term responsibilities in the OM Panama office, and participants in the short term programmes during the year.
Thank You for Panama, the 'Rainbow of Races'. Thank You for its different people groups and diverse culture. We pray for the unreached indigenous people, that Your truth will break the chains of animism and dark powers in their lives. Let Your rainbow of promise and hope rise shine brightly above this nation.
Thank you for considering a gift to further the work of OM. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call us on 1-800-899-0432.
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