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Sponsor a child!

LACC

Latin America Resource
and Training Center
 

A Second Bumper Crop Harvest for Panama's Schools
By Rod and Sherry Boyd

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.
—1 Corinthians 3:6

Bumper Crop HarvestWe were at the airport in Panama a few days ago, checking in for a flight to Honduras. The young lady that works for Copa Airlines asked, “Do you remember me?” How embarrassing… I didn’t. Sherry said, “She’s one of our graduates.” Sure enough, she graduated just a couple of years ago from the Las Mananitas Good Shepherd School. What’s even more embarrassing is that we sponsor her younger sister, Janeth! Janeth will be graduating on December 19th. It really hit us. We are making a difference! We have watched Janeth and her four brothers and sisters grow up in our school. And now, they are taking their place as upright Christian young people in Panamanian business and society.

Bumper Crop HarvestWhen we arrived to Panama in 1995 there were four elementary schools, three junior highs and one high school on a total of five campuses (some schools have more than one level) with a total attendance of 1,362. The first Christian school opened in 1979 in Panama’s first church, the Catedral de Vida (Life Cathedral). The second school opened in 1985 in David. The first junior high opened in 1987, then added high school grades starting in 1990. (Note: we will be sharing a few interesting statistics about Panama’s schools. A statistical chart follows this article.)

Bumper Crop HarvestLatin America ChildCare began its ministry in Panama in the mid-eighties under the leadership of missionaries Steve and Debbie Alsup. Missionaries Larry and Dorothy Cederblom opened a new LACC school in 1989 that would soon become the largest LACC school in the country and took over the LACC ministry. We have been coordinating LACC since 1995.

The Growth was slow but sure in those first years. The pastors and congregations of these schools, burdened for the children in their areas, started their schools with one or two grades, often in makeshift facilities, adding a new grade each year. This healthy “slow growth” model continues today, allowing a church sufficient time to “grow into” its school, developing facilities and a solid ministry to children and families. The seed was effectively sown. LACC has had a large part in “watering” this ministry. But we must say, GOD MADE IT GROW!

Bumper Crop HarvestThe FIRST BUMPER CROP HARVEST of schools hit Panama starting in 1997.  Nine new elementary schools opened from 1997 to 1999, plus a new junior high and senior high school. These new schools started small, but have contributed to an attendance explosion. The .com crash of 1980 and the ensuing global recession seriously impacted the growth trend of Panama’s Christian schools. The existing schools continued to grow slowly overall. Some schools dropped in attendance, the newer schools increased. The Ministry of Education introduced educational reform in 2002 extending basic education through 9th grade and allowing an elementary school to continue through junior high. Although just three new schools were opened from 2000 to 2005, the overall attendance grew from 2,650 in 1999 to 3,910 by the end of 2005.

We are now experiencing a SECOND BUMPER CROP HARVEST of schools in Panama! Two new schools opened in 2006, four more in 2007. Two more will open in 2008. Attendance has grown from 3,910 the end of 2005 to 5,077 this year!

Bumper Crop HarvestWe are pleased to announce the opening of a second Guaymi Indian School in the village of Soloy, located in the mountains about 50 miles south of the Costa Rican border. Mike King and the Tennessee Pathfinders (yes, the same groups that built the Duima School) came last January to begin construction (see Mike King’s Soloy Panama article with photos) and will send their third team to Soloy in February to finish construction of the first classrooms. Classes begin in March! Because of the extreme poverty in the area, LACC has to underwrite virtually the whole school budget.

We actually just found out about three of the four schools that opened this year. What a surprise! These three schools started as more informal “reading-writing” kindergarten and preschool centers. One of these schools has 208 children in preschool, kindergarten and first grade only! The jump to first grade requires full approval of Panama’s Ministry of Education, plus the approval of the General Council’s Christian School Commission. This change also means a jump in tuition. Needy families cannot afford even the reasonable monthly tuition.

Bumper Crop HarvestLatin America ChildCare comes along side these schools to offer a major scholarship to these families. LACC is currently sponsoring 850 of the 5,077 students. But 330 more are waiting for a sponsor. This is the most children we’ve ever had at one time waiting for help to arrive. We have had to suspend applications because the demand is so high. It is desperate now that these new schools are opening.  It is so important that we offer help to these new schools especially. We need a miracle BUMPER CROP HARVEST OF NEW SPONSORS! And we haven’t even begun to talk about the construction needs!

Please remember to pray for our LACC schools in Panama. Pray for new sponsors. This is our number one need. Pray that the needed classrooms will be finished. Pray for the churches of our schools, that they will effectively reach out to the children and families. Please pray that the hundreds of Christian young people that attend our schools will continue to find their place of service and leadership in a country that desperately needs to see God’s hand at work.

If you would like to become a Latin America ChildCare sponsor and help one or more children be able to get a quality Christian education, please visit the LACC website of Panama’s children at: www.Panama.LACC4Hope.org or call 1-800-289-7071.

 

Elementary

Jr. High

High School

Total

End of

Schools

Attend.

Schools

Attend.

Schools

Attend.

Sections

Schools**(Campuses)

Attend.

1995

4

1,050

3

200

1

112

8

5

1,362

1996

5

1,050

3

300

1

134

9

6

1,484

1997

8

1,212

3

372

1

140

12

9

1,724

1998

12

1,554

3

397

3

201

18

13

2,152

1999

14

1,909

4

520

3

221

21

15

2,650

2000

15

2,184

4

573

3

257

22

16

3,014

2001

15

2,233

4

559

3

246

22

16

3,038

2002

15

2,312

*5

554

4

284

24

16

3,150

2003

16

2,444

8

530

4

278

28

17

3,252

2004

17

2,583

9

624

4

324

30

18

3,531

2005

18

2,778

10

755

4

377

32

19

3,910

2006

20

3,048

10

904

4

415

34

21

4,367

2007

24

3,650

10

999

5

428

41

25

5,077

2008

26

?

10

?

6

?

42

27

?

*The Ministry of Education introduced educational reform in 2002 extending basic education through 9th grade and allowing an elementary school to continue through junior high.

**Often a school campus will have more than one section.