Our Own Missionaries
Alan and Collen Foster are members of Bethel but are missionaries in Panama.  Watch the video on the right called ‘Meet the Fosters’ to learn more about this faithful family and their important mission. We will also post updates here about their journey and their latest adventures so be sure to check back often!
Latest Update: Living Like a Refugee
March 21, 2019
“Dad.” Kalea said nonchalantly.
“There are children on the back of the car.”
    We were kicking up a heavy cloud of dust on the recently bulldozed path leading us rapidly away from the village called Canaan. I dared a glance in the rearview mirror to see flesh and flashes of grinning teeth.
    I was concerned about the safety of the children, and, admittedly, the integrity of my rearview wiper, the only thing to grab back there, so I eased the brakes and exited the vehicle quickly. “warra!” [children!] My voice was lost towards the fading giggles, naked brown butts, and bare white soles of little feet disappearing into the jungle.
    Turning on my heels at the rear of the car, I was surprised by two humans, motionless, inches away from me as I reached for my door. I froze. Turned. One of them I knew. It was Neftalí, the little boy from the neighboring village. Just yesterday he was my chosen one, given the task of purchasing a tooth brush from the local store to clean the water pump and burdened with my calm but serious rant that the fate of the village water supply was in his hands. He brought me the change, which I returned to him as recompense for him making the world a better place. He might be 4 or 5 years old. So he is just staring at me and grinning. 
    Kalea and Landy’s daughters fill the back seat. Landy (my Wounaan ministry partner) is riding shotgun. Having greeted Neftalí, I spoke with Landy in hopes to clear my confusion. Neftalí has wandered up here alone. His stare means he wants to ride back in the car. It is ok to take him. Having successfully loaded him into the back of the car, I wheel around and the other kid is grinning at me, saying nothing. Back to Landy. Turns out this is Neftalí’s cousin from the same village, and it is ok to take him.
    “Do you want to ride in the car?” He nods emphatically with the grin. So I open the car and load him up, too. Off we go. We are riding from one village to the next on the same river. Canaan was a strange place to leave behind this time. I had never been to a refugee camp. The population of foreigners was comparable to the population of the village. The sights and smells were different. Not all pleasant. Excited banter in tribal languages from across the ocean made stark contrast to the friendly but quiet air which previously defined the village. Others stared. Most are men about my age… an occasional woman and child. All are heading to the U.S., and I am the first gringo they see in the new continent. Perhaps just that gave them a little hope.
    It couldn’t have been easy where they were coming from. Leaving home and family and country. Political asylum. Ever-present violence and danger. But the smugglers, charging them $40k for passage to the U.S., never told them about the Darien Gap. They’ve trudged at least 6 days through the jungle from Colombia. The longest ascent is now known as “death mountain.” Two of our local indigenous friends scouted it recently, hired by the military police that won’t venture there, to confirm reports of the skeletons. They lie clothed, undisturbed with their meager belongings along the path. Arriving to Canaan is a major stepping stone, survival towards the American dream.
    The locals house the migrants, most charging $2 per night, one family from the church charging nothing. On one balcony, the frame of an old man, perhaps a local grandfather, is visible from the street. Lying on his side, he appears gaunt, and the flesh of his back is mangled with sores and insect bites. He rolls over to reveal an aging Asian face of less than 30 years. I was mistaken. It is a recently arrived immigrant. They are from Cameron, Congo, Bangladesh, Cuba, Somalia, India, Venezuela…
    The trip was a success. We rebuilt 2 well pumps. Clean water for the villagers and their guests. Church was convened in the Pastor Armodio’s thatch roundhouse to give thanks in song and share the Word. All of us except Kalea had some form of illness in the week that followed, each one oddly unique in its symptoms, severity, and duration… fever, diarrhea, sweats, and aches. Josh and Colleen merited trips to the hospital, but we are all ok now.
    We invite you to pray for both the villages and the migrants they are receiving… that the vulnerability imposed through this tragic situation would be an open door to hear the message of freedom in Jesus. We also invite you to give thanks and prayers for our new teammate, Langdon Hollingsworth (below with Yoxymar and I building an aeration ramp), who has offered his hands and his heart to serve Panama’s indigenous alongside of us.

How can I go?

These are requirements to participate in Bethel Missions Team:

  • Complete the Volunteer Application Form.
  • Complete the Child Protection Policy.
  • Have a valid, up-to-date passport (for all opportunities outside the United States).
  • Have up-to-date immunizations for specific destinations.
  • Before selection for a particular missions journey commit to attend orientation and training sessions
    established by the Pastor and the team leader for a particular team.
  • Recruit prayer partners for the team, the missionaries/pastors/local believers, and the lost people of the area
    where the team will serve.
  • Be willing and able to attend required orientation and training sessions, including prayer gatherings.
  • Have a servant’s heart.
Shoeboxes Due: November 18, 2019 
   (3rd Monday in November)
Each year, Bethel participates in filling as many shoe boxes as we can to help children experience the love and joy of Jesus at Christmas. Shoeboxes contain toys such as stuffed animals, soccer balls with  a pump, clothing outfits, school supplies, hygiene items and other fun toy items to fill the shoe box. The shoebox must also include $9 for shipping. You can even track your box to see where it ends up and which child you bless with this precious gift. Each box is prayed over by not only our church but by the individuals processing them and sending them out.