The Panama Christian Evangelism Mission
Ministry Through Medicine
Anthropology teaches that the issues facing the developing world are starkly similar, regardless of location. Most who live there toil in difficult conditions battling hunger, disease, and other challenges long forgotten by those who live in industrialized areas. Safe drinking water, wholesome -- and regular -- meals are scarce as is access to medical and dental care.Few live past 50, and those who do often suffer from serious chronic disease, most seldom seen in the modern world.
The days are long, filled with struggling to feed families that are too large. Large families are necessary to ensure survival of the family unit and to provide more hands to tend the crops.
More hands also mean more mouths to feed and more family members to clothe. Education and cognitive skill sets necessary to break the agricultural enslavement conflict with cultural pressures. Children marry at age 11 or 12 and often have many children of their own by age 21.
The PCE Mission ministers to the Guaymi Indians, one of the 7 indigenous peoples of Panama.The Guaymi are a largely impoverished people. Most fall below the United Nations' Extreme Poverty Level -- earning less than $2/day.
The Mission's approach is different than most: recognizing the helping and healing lessons of every major religion; the Mission seeks to deliver God's word through acts, deeds, healing, and help. The mission actively seeks to interfere with agricultural enslavement, to prevent children from getting pregnant; help them to get to and stay in school; help keep their families from going hungry; help them get shelter; help with medical and dental care; provide suitable clothing; help them with transportation; and help them by providing hope.
The field medical clinic shown here was held 25 miles off the paved road. 250 patients were seen in a single morning.
Medical and relief supplies are sent to Panama by container. Once emptied, the containers are cleaned and painted. Doors, windows, electricity, running water, and flush toilets are installed, providing shelter for as many as 40 people.
The Guaymi get very little milk-fat and calcium in their diet. Mission staff often take bus-loads of kids to town for ice cream; a special treat that supplements their incomplete diet of rice and beans.