Our family, with the Jay Gunsteens family, opened up the work among the Pucuro Kunas on the Colobian border in 1972
In January 2009 a team of four San Blas Island Kunas from the First Baptist Church of Panama City traveled to the Darien jungle village of Pucuro to minister to our border Kunas. During the visit to Pucuro there were seven first-time decisions for Christ and 14 baptisms. We received a letter of a tape-recorded message of their exciting visit.
As I read the amazing report of our Kuna brothers and sisters, I was reminded of God’s promise…
”My Word will NOT return unto me void,
but WILL accomplish that to which I have sent it”.
This is the same tribe that took us into the jungles of Panama many years earlier. It is the same indigenous group of people that a few years after we returned to the states, we learned of the three missionary men living in our village, who were kidnapped, captured and killed. The current chief of the village was our nearest neighbor, a dear friend and one of the first converts in those early days.
Needless to say, I read the report with passionate interest! As the story unfolded, I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving. It is an amazing story of God’s faithfulness.
The island team ministers spoke of their prepared purpose to go to Pucuro to evangelize. Upon arriving they realized there was no need to evangelize because “everyone was a Christian already!” They had to change their tactics and teach. The Kunas were hungry for God’s Words. Even the little ones would sit quietly for 1 ½ hours or more. They kept saying, “Don’t stop. Keep sharing with us!”
The Island Kuna teachers talked about how the people at the Kuna church in the city sang OK, but not with the enthusiasm of their brothers in Pucuro…”Wow! You should hear them sing. They sing at the top of their voices and with all of their hearts.”
They were impressed with the amazing testimonies of the Pucuro Christians. The chief of Pucuro shared, “I was talking to my people, I said, 'Look at us. Fifteen years ago we betrayed the Americans (3 missionary men with their families living in Pucuro) to the guerillas. They killed the men. Four years ago one of our chiefs was killed and some of our houses were burned (by guerillas). Other things have happened. Look what we have done…at what we have become. We are bad people. We need to come back to God'”.
When the time came to leave the people kept saying,
“Please stay another week and keep teaching us.”
The Congreso (a Kuna village could not function without a Congreso) has become their Church service and their giving and meeting the needs of one another is done as a whole body of believers ministering to one another. This, in itself, is a miracle transformation for a Kuna village.
I’ll close this "Praise Letter" with Wilma Forester’s (Wycliff missionaries to the Paya Kunas) editorial note: “As I think of the wonderful harvest that is coming about in Pucuro, I am very mindful of the years and years of prayer that has been lifted to the throne on behalf of the Pucuro Kunas. During the ten silent years when the fate of the three New Tribes missionaries (David Mankins, Mark Rich, Rick Tenenoff) was unsure, people (I venture to say thousands of people) around the world were not only praying for the men, but for their wives, their families, the guerillas, AND the people to whom they had ministered…the people of Pucuro. God’s timing is not our timing. His ways are not our ways. Today we have a glimpse into His plan. Truly we serve a prayer answering God.”
I could not agree more…
To God be the glory…
~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America. Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California. My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights.