July 21, 2008

The Ministry Adventures of Terra Leavens
Campus for Christ, Edinburgh
God’s work through us in Panama…

Two summers ago I helped lead Campus for Christ’s first summer project to Panama.  Opening a new partnership was challenging and exciting as we attempted to navigate culture, university policies, students and ministry styles.  One of the girls who was on my team that summer was Trisha Jagt, a first year art student from McMaster University.  During her time in Panama that summer God so impressed the need for labourers on her heart that Trisha returned this past September with our first year-long STInt Team to help establish the work of evangelism and discipleship in Panama.  She has just returned from her year there and I received this small update from her.  I thought you would be encouraged to see how your investment in my life is impacting the world – through Canadian students, through international partnerships and through the work of the gospel in students lives like Trisha.

This is a photo I took of Trisha and Laura the first summer they met in May 2006.

“Imagine this.  Imagine that you start praying for someone you don’t know personally.  In fact, only God has ever told you about her.  So you wouldn’t know her if you were standing right next to her.  Wouldn’t that be strange?  I felt weird praying for this girl for about 6 months in preparation for my first trip to Panama.  I asked God to place in my life someone to carry on a ministry to reach the nations, and the country of Panama upon return to Canada.  God placed this girl onto my heart and so I thought of her often.

Now imagine you’re a young Panamanian girl who goes to visit family in the States in hopes to find hot boys and great drugs.  But instead of your hopes and dreams being fulfilled, you’re stuck staying in a Christian household.  So when 17 year old Laura Gonzalez agreed to go away on a youth retreat, she thought things would finally get a little wild.  Instead, God had a different type of fun in store.  God audibly spoke to her that weekend.  Her life changed dramatically, she gave it up for Christ and it would never be the same.  She experienced real joy without drugs, alcohol or guy attention. But on return to Panama she felt like God didn’t follow her back home.  She felt abandoned, hopeless and lifeless.

Around the same time that Laura was trying to get her life back on track with God in Panama, I was making plans to spend a chunk of my summer in Panama.  I held her up in prayer amidst her struggles only by God’s leading in my life.  It wasn’t until the end of my time in Panama that I came to understand God’s answer.  It was so effortless becoming friends with Laura that I didn’t realize; she was the one I was impacting all along.  And this past stint year, after over 2 years of great friendship, I have seen her grow into a full blown missionary – Jesus freak.

Panama is full of “Laura’s” that have been reached with the gospel message this past S.T.I.N.T year.  The majority of young adult/teenagers know about Christ but God is just a subject, religion or just old news.  But the message of Christ is everything but lifeless, and I believe God called me this past year to bring life back into the gospel.  To bring morals and ethics back onto the scene, those that are planted on a solid foundation, the word of God.  The majority of my ministry this year was spent pioneering the ministry of “Vida Estudiantil” on the private university “Interamericana”.  Laura was able to assist me and encourage her friends to get involved as well.  We put on outreaches, fun information tables to publicize the group and provide opportunities to get involved.  At the beginning of the year, Laura and I made a video about the state of the world and showed it from classroom to classroom.  Any way to get students thinking about their purpose in life, role to make a better future and relationship with God was utilized.  There were some things that went off smoothly, and other time of there was discouragement.  But most of all, one on one evangelism and discipleship was at the heart of my ministry.  At the end of my time there, I had the privilege of seeing a girl I disciple pray with one of her peers as she received Christ as Lord of her life.  Now, Andrea meets with her weekly.  Hearing someone you’ve invested in through discipleship times each week, disciple someone else has brought me amazing joy and thankfulness to God.” – Trisha Jagt, Short Term International Worker with Campus for Christ to Panama City, Panama 2007-2008