Willis Missionaries in Panama

 

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About
  

 
History

 

Panama is a country of over three million people in population. Panama is between Costa Rica and Columbia. This country is most known for the Panama Canal. There are, at this present time, nine Independent Baptist Missionaries who have started a total of 20 Independent Baptist Churches in the whole country.

James and Elaine Willis and Family

James T. Willis was the first Independent Baptist Missionary to come to Panama back in 1974, having been sent by the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. He moved, along with his wife and four boys, to the town of Las Lomas, in the Province of Chiriqui. He started the Templo Bautista de Las Lomas, which is the oldest Independent Baptist Church in Panama. All of the churches started in the Province of Chiriqui, and in other places of the country, are a direct result of James Willis's ministry. James Willis went home to be with the Lord on December 24, 2000 and his widow, Elaine Willis, is still faithfully serving the Lord here in Panama.

Byron and Briceida Willis and Family

James Willis's third son, Byron, was saved at the age of five and surrendered to preach when he was ten years old. At age 16 he started his first church in the small town of El Valle. This church is still reaching the lost in this small town.

Byron was married on February 23, 1987 to a Panamanian young lady named Briceida. They moved to Texas and after a year of praying and seeking the Lord's will, went back to Panama in February, 1989 on $400.00 a month support. During their first two years on the field, they lived and worked in the small town of El Valle and Byron did his Bible College through Correspondence Schooling while Briceida did her studies at James Willis's Bible Institute. In 1991, Byron moved his family to the City of David, Province of Chiriqui and started hosting Bible Studies in his home while still pastoring the church in El Valle. David is the Capitol City of Chiriqui and the third largest city of Panama-(100,000 +).

Iglesia Bautista Bíblica de David

After turning the Work in El Valle over to their own pastor, Byron Willis and Family started the Iglesia Bautista Bíblica de David in January, 1993 in their own living room. Six months later they went on furlough for a year to raise more support. They returned to Panama in July, 1994, with over $2,000.00 a month in support. That was the last one year furlough the Willis family have had.

After arriving back from furlough in July, 1994, he was loaned a tent and, with a bus he brought back from the States, began to build the church. The Willis Family shared their home with the church for over 8 years. Three years ago they moved into their own home. The church has gone from an attendance of just the Willis family to over 600 in it's eleven years of having started. There have been over 1000 public professions of faith and over 250 people baptized each year since moving into their own church building in November 1999, with many more saved through the soul-winning programs. This is now the fastest growing church in Panama and the largest Independent Baptist Church in the country.

Thanks to many churches in the States, Byron was able to buy a piece of property in July, 1996 to build a building. After battling the City Officials for over two years for their building permit (religious opposition), they finally received their building permit, thanks to the President of Panama, on July 24, 1998.

The building was begun with only $8,000.00 ($3,000.00 saved by their church here in Panama and $5,000.00 from churches in the USA).Thanks to much prayer, fasting, hard work and blessings from God, it took the church only 18 months to build their church building and be able to move into it. This building today is valued at $100,000.00.

For more information on present ministries, see the Ministries page.


Pictorial History

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When Byron was sixteen he started a church in this house in the small town of El Valle (the Valley). A town of over 800 people in population. They started in the wooden hut, then built the roof on the back and poured the floor. In 1991 they built the building they now enjoy.
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The church members later built a building around the old wooden house and roof.

 

 
 
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This picture is of the tent which the Iglesia Bautista Bíblica de David church met in from September 1994 through November, 1999. They grew to over 250 on Sunday mornings under the tent. The present church building is located diagnally across the street from the tent.
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Picture of the tent on the inside. This tent was made out of vinyl and very hot!! Some said they had been to purgatory after being under the tent!

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The auditorium in the new building. This auditorium now has new pews which were brought down on the four buses that were donated to different churches in Panama.