Panama church aids migrant population
The First Church of the Nazarene in Rio Abajo, Panama, handed out 500 personal hygiene kits and served 11,900 hot meals to migrants who arrived in the country. In addition, they handed out clothing, shoes, milk, diapers, and medicines.
The collection and distribution were carried out through a migrant support campaign called "Love in Action," directed by Rio Abajo Pastor Amable Polanco. The leadership and the entire church joined in donating, praying, seeking external donations, and working to bring help to migrants.
"Love in Action" began on October 21 after the church learned that dozens of migrants were staying in the country because of immigration policy changes that did not allow them to move on to their original destination.
"We never imagined that it would be 40 days in continuous service," said Yalegny Urdanera, local coordinator for Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.
Although the church started serving by bringing food and coffee, upon seeing the migrants' needs, the church's perspectives were changed.
"We got busy spreading the word about the need to aid the migrants,” Urdanera said.
Word of mouth spread, and the church began to gather everything needed to cover the migrants’ basic needs and to aid those who were sick, weak, and injured. Church members also obtained bedding, clothing, shoes, and toiletries.
The church and community responded together as members brought their friends and donations. People who came by saw the church's work and brought their gifts. The church received a donation from a company that brought a truck full of dry food, water, and toiletries.
Later, more donations arrived from the United States.
"Thank God, since the campaign began, the aid has not stopped," Urdanera said. "Manna from heaven arrived. Thanks to our international church through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, which was a great blessing to close our campaign, Love in Action,"
The donations allowed the church to collaborate with Hogar Luisa, an organization that serves as a collection center for migrant people and refugees.
In addition, the Río Abajo church served as a shelter for more than 18 people who were provided with water and food. Urdanera describes what happened next as "an act of love with a reaction." The migrants who received shelter and refuge in the church joined the team to serve other migrants.
For several days, the church distributed dinners and, later, breakfasts also.
Urdarena believes that many migrants saw God’s love for them through small details and gestures, and that "Love in Action" was only a seed that would grow in God's time.
"To the glory of God, many migrants accepted Jesus as their Savior," said Urdanera. "Those who returned to Venezuela went with contacts from the Church of the Nazarene to follow them up."
--Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica