My childhood home … it’s a symbol to me of “the changes” God makes when he clarifies his call on your life. When Sue and I felt that God was calling us beyond our current ministry we began to dream about where that might be.
Both of us grew up in rural surroundings and thought our next ministry might take us back in that direction. I pictured myself spending Sunday evenings on the wraparound porch of that house in Kansas; maybe after preaching at two or three small country congregations. In my wildest dream I even mused about the house being large enough for a church.
Our other (deeply spiritual) criteria for where we might go in ministry was … four seasons. The Chicago area has four seasons; it’s just that two of the four are winter. I longed for a little more warmth.
The past two years have taught me that God’s dreams are always wilder than our own. Panama City is about as far from rural as you could get and we’re down to two seasons … hot wet and hot wetter. God’s dreams don’t always line up with ours, but when his call is confirmed in your soul, the landscape of your dreams can change. On our first trip to Panama City, I expected to be repulsed by the city. I wasn’t. I found myself thinking of God’s challenge to Jonah.
Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
Panama City is a great (large) city and many of the people are clueless when it comes to Christ. I know that God is concerned for the city and he is placing that concern in our hearts. Not only is the city filled with many people, it’s filled with many nations. English speakers from around the globe are settling in Panama City … and there is almost no voice calling them to Christ. The potential to reach the nations with the Gospel is captivating.