On a recent day in June, our team did another prayer walk through one of the high risk communities in Panama City Panama.
We joined two leaders from Panama’s branch of Young Life who walked us around and explained the various different sites.
Panama Viejo is a historical area of the city of Panama. The Spanish first settled this area as a stopping point for all the gold coming out of South America, where it was hauled across the isthmus and put on a boat to Spain.
A British pirate sacked and burned the city and all that is left are some stone monuments from its churches, one of which has become a national symbol of Panama.
At Risk Community
But around the historical ruins that attract tourist from around the world lies a community that is at high risk.
Drugs are traded on street corners. Gangs fight for control.
As we walked the community with our guides from Young Life, kids play in the street. Music blares from speakers within various houses. Houses and shacks in various states of repair or disrepair line the narrow streets. Chickens squak and dogs bark as we walk by.
It’s very different world than suburban USA or even the high dollar area of the city that I live in.
As we followed our guides from Young Life, two police officers stopped us and warned us of the risk of being off the tourist trail. A taxi driver hollered that we needed a police escort to get back to the safe area.
One of the Young Life leaders is a former gang member from the neighborhood. His best friend was killed by a rival gang. Having given his life to the Lord, he’s studied youth psychology with a specialty in working with high risk youth.
Our Young Life leaders greet different teenagers as we walk. These are the kids that Young Life Panama wants to reach. I see the passion of these leaders to reach teenagers with the gospel. I see their desire to connect and earn the right to be heard.
We spent about one hour walking their community, praying for the various areas on our journey. Each spot they shared with me had
- some significance to the ministry,
- a particular call to prayer,
- a reminder of events that will happen or have happened.
Prayer Stop #1
We began this prayer walk in one of the chapel ruins of Panama Viejo, a place where Bible Studies are held in the open air.
Bible studies are basic: what does it say, what does it mean, and how can you apply what it says. Young Life Panama is introducing kids to personal Bible study, beginning at the most basic of levels.
Prayer Stop #2
Young Life Panama has started holding their club meetings in this gym.
We took the time to pray for Young Life’s
- contact work,
- their clubs, and
- that local churches would partner with them in their work.
Prayer Stop #3
The Young Life team is working to build relationships with kids at this field. The leaders of Young Life introduced me to several of the kids who were goofing around on the field that day.
With Eyes Wide Open
As we walked the Panama Viejo neighborhood with eyes wide open, it didn’t take much to hear and see the community need.
As I listened to the heart of these Young Life leaders, it’s clear they have gotten God’s compassionate heart for the area. These leaders have the passion, the heart, and the calling to reach out into this community. They are spending themselves in that community, looking to reach kids for Christ.
It’s a privilege to walk along side of them and encourage them in their ministry.