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God’s Chosen Leaders

For sixteen years Multiply workers Einer and Girlesa Zuluaga have trained up indigenous students from the Emberá and Wounaan peoples of Panama and Colombia. Their desire is to see their students bring the Gospel to their own people, in their own language. Thus far, God’s chosen leaders for this task have included poor, uneducated field hands and the grandchildren of sorcerers.

Leycer came from the thick rainforests of the Colombian Chocó region, where his grandfather was one of the most feared sorcerers in the jungle. His conversion to Christianity was shocking and had serious consequences. As the eldest grandson, Leycer was to inherit the powers passed down from their ancestors. Instead, he publicly renounced all such inheritances, incurring the wrath of their entire family. “You have betrayed us all!” he was told.

Leycer was told he would be disowned and driven out of the village. When these threats failed to dissuade him, the community resorted to bribes. He was offered a coveted job as a schoolteacher, if only he would renounce Christ. He refused. The community elders forbade him to hold public meetings for Christian teaching or worship. Undeterred, he held discrete meetings in private homes, silently and steadily multiplying disciples. His courage in the face of adversity won the respect of many in his community. Leycer’s own father came to faith in Christ, was discipled by his son, and has since become a strong leader among the Wounaan of that region.

Dalecio is another humble disciple being mightily used of God. A simple Wounaan field worker with little education, Dalecio was naturally shy. Yet when Jesus freed him from ancestral beliefs, he became a passionate evangelist. His grasp of the Gospel and his intuitive ability to contextualize it for his people made him powerfully effective. One day, Dalecio was trying to convey the deadly nature of sin. Standing in the middle of the jungle, he suddenly pointed and said: “Look at that great tree! Strong, unmovable. But see the vine? It is a parasite, small now, but it will kill that great tree. Such is sin!” The Wounaan were startled by the analogy, seeing how different this concept was from their own animistic beliefs. Dalecio went on to pastor believers deep in the Darien jungle, and now directs the Discipleship School in Yaviza. 

These are the kind of leaders God is choosing to bring transformation in Panama. 

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