Another 'Biggest Day Ever'!
We should have known we were in for a big turnout when awesome team member Oscar, our interface with the Office of the Mayor in Boquete, texted and said that we were going to need more than two days of ministry. We promised that we could always return for more days soon, if needed, and prepared for two busy days. More about that in a minute...
What an amazing place to have an outreach! The Mayor's Office and the city of Boquete allowed us to use the city arena, a wonderful building with a basketball court and seating for thousands. We had plenty of room and they provided hundreds of chairs for us on the floor, as well as helpers for check-in and crowd control (very important!)
The community was so kind, when we arrived there was a huge pile of plantains and papayas waiting for us. It always touches my heart when dear folks with very little insist on sharing what they have as a way of saying, 'thank you'.
...so, turns out that Oscar was right! When we arrived before 7:00am, we found that people had travelled from Costa Rica and all around the region to attend, arriving as early as 10:00pm the night before to wait in line. We had to send 150-200 people away, asking them to return on day two. All glory to God, our amazing team ministered to a new one-day record number of 269 dear souls! Through the power of the Holy Spirit our ministry team shared boldly with all who came, and many lives were changed - for eternity! God is so good!
Many of us thought the day would never end, but as the day drew to a close, we cleaned up and left for a meal together and a few hours of rest. At about 8:00pm that night we received word that all large gatherings of people were cancelled by the Ministry of Health, effective immediately, due to the arrival of the Corona Virus in Panama.
Not wanting to face hundreds of disappointed folks, Joy and I didn't return to the arena until later in the morning the next day to fetch everyone's stuff. I cried when we walked inside the room that was, just a few hours earlier, filled with hundreds of dear souls that need Jesus, now empty.
However...THIS IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY!
This too, shall pass, in Jesus' name! Our team will return to the Kingdom work to which we have been called. Thousands more WILL hear the Good News because our Father is still sending us to '...open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and for the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Jesus]'. Acts 26:17-18
I grabbed one quick photo as we arrived before 7:00am. Some of these dear folks had been waiting all night. Note the line winds around the parking lot and waaay down the street.