The Adventist Church’s newly formed Panama Union Mission announced that 2,530 people have been baptized since January as the result of a major evangelistic series.
The baptisms underscored a commitment by the local church to prepare people for Jesus’ return and provided a moment of nostalgia for visiting Adventist Church leader Ted N.C. Wilson, who was reminded that his father had led an evangelistic series 31 years earlier in Panama.
“God’s spirit is moving in an unusual way in the country of Panama, and the church is responding in a dynamic response through personal and public evangelism,” Wilson told the Adventist Review. “I praise the Lord for the energetic proclamation of the three angels’ messages in Panama.”
Local church leaders, speaking at the inauguration of the Panama Union Mission this week, said enthusiasm for evangelism is strong in the Central American country and presented Wilson with a certificate about the latest baptisms. The document, which bears an image of Jesus’ Second Coming, says 2,530 people have been baptized as “a fragrant offering to God” during the “Journeys of Hope” evangelistic series. The meetings were held throughout the country and involved pastors, lay members, and children working together.
Wilson encouraged 2,000 church members, gathered for the union’s inauguration at the Hotel El Panama, to give the people of Panama “a positive and good report” pointing to Christ and His soon return.
The Panama Union Mission, which was spun off from the South Central American Union on Jan. 1, is led by president José De Gracia and has three conferences and two missions, 22 schools, and 107 pastors. At the start of the year, it had 76,250 members worshiping in 479 congregations.
Wilson made a two-day visit this week to Panama, the fifth in a six-country tour of the Inter-American Division. He arrived in Panama from Costa Rica and was visiting Colombia on Thursday.
Panama's church leaders tied the past with the present at a separate inauguration for a new conference headquarters and a radio station, 1560 AM - The Voice of Hope. The leaders spoke of how Wilson’s father, former Adventist Church leader Neal C. Wilson, led an evangelistic series in 1984 with Mervyn Hardinge, health director for the Adventist world church; and Charles L. Brooks, an associate Sabbath School director who provided special music. His interpreter at the meetings was Israel Leito, now the president of the Inter-American Division, which includes Panama. Leito accompanied Ted Wilson on his two-day visit to Panama this week.
Ted Wilson met a physician who was baptized in the 1984 evangelistic series and a couple, literature evangelist José Moreno and his wife, Rosita Baker, who were married by his father during the meetings. All three are faithful Adventists today.
“What a privilege to see God's blessings after 31 years,” Wilson said.