In 2017, after completing his studies at Memphis School of Preaching, and returning to Panama, Marlon Retana, his wife Jacky, and his son Jonathan, had a goal in their minds and hearts, to put into practice everything they learned during the time they were preparing themselves in the United States.
After their arrival in Panama, they helped with the work in two existing congregations, Torrijos Carter, in San Miguelito, and Vista Hermosa, in Ciudad de Panama. During that time, they held Bible studies with brethren who lived near their home every Thursday night. Little by little, the doors to start a work in their area were opened, and with God’s help, the work began in 2019, having their first worship service, at home, on January 6, 2019. Since that first day, it was proposed and it has been performed a second worship service, in the evenings, in order to help the brethren who not only work on Sundays, but also do so at times that do not allow them to meet in the morning service.
Days before the work started, the Retanas thought it would be a small group of people, basically the three of them and one more family, however, God, with His infinite mercy, provided a great blessing since the beginning of this congregation. In the first worship service, there was an attendance of sixteen people. Yes, you read it correctly, sixteen people in the living and dining rooms of a small house.
A couple of weeks after starting the work in Las Villas, while Jacky and Jonathan were waiting in a car wash, a gentleman saw Jacky holding a small Bible in her hands (she was studying for a ladies class), and he approached them to ask if they were religious and where they met. Being cautious, Jacky gave him Marlon’s contact information and home address (it is certainly not common that someone invites a total stranger to the place where he or she resides). A couple of days later, this gentleman, along with his wife, came and were part of the midweek study. Just a few weeks later, and after an organized Bible study, the gentleman stopped being a visitor to become a brother in Christ. His wife requested more study and, a few weeks later, obeyed the gospel. In less than two months the work in Las Villas began to bear fruit, a very good fruit. It is not about being the only ones who go to heaven and rejoice to be with our heavenly Father, it is about taking as many as we can with us.
This work, as it was commented by an elder from Gonzales church of Christ, in Gonzales, LA, found a «good problem» in a short time. The house of the Retana was falling short to be able to deal with the number of brethren and visitors who met there. Thanks be to God, to the collaboration of brethren in the United States, and the offering by the members of the congregation, a good rental place was located, near where the work began, and after paying the deposit and first month, the congregation moved to its current location, right on the main road to Las Villas de Arraiján, only four months after it was started.
This is how, as of the date of this publication, Las Villas church of Christ began. With God’s help and the efforts of each member of the congregation, we hope to continue growing, not only in number, but also in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), and thus bring the message of the good news of salvation, not only in our community, but throughout the nation and even beyond our borders, thanks to the blessing of technology, through our social networks, blog, and YouTube channel, always remembering that the church of the Lord is the «the pillar and ground of the truth» (1 Timothy 3:15).
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about the history of our little, but loving, congregation. We will love to have you as our guest and study God’s Word with us. We are simply Christians who meet to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) in the community of Las Villas de Arraiján, just like First-Century Christians did according to what we read about them in the Holy Scriptures.
To God be the glory today and always