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Central America Parat rooper to Preacher From By Mark Lockhart According to the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, the French began work on the Panama Canal in 1880. After nine years and a loss of approximately twenty thousand lives, the French attempt went bankrupt. In 1903 the United States became involved and the canal was finished in 1914. On August 15, 1914, the SS Ancon exited the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and made its way through the canal and entered into the Pacific Ocean. Without a doubt this has been one of the great maritime and engineering feats in world history. United States Army Sgt. Franklin Booth was there for business on several occasions. God called Brother Booth to Panama, not as a soldier but rather as a missionary, to spread the Gospel among the Panamanian people. Franklin and Brenda Booth, along with their three children, Jonathan, David and Elizabeth, have served as BIMI missionaries in Panama since April 1999. They assisted in the ministry of another missionary prior to starting the Victory Baptist Church in Cerro Batea, San Miguelito. Several people from the Kuna tribe attend the church. There are seven such tribal groups in Panama and only three independent Baptist missionaries working with them. His brother-in-law, Edwin Santiago, and his family were sent out of the Booth's work about six years ago and have established the Iglesia Bautista Panama in El Dorado, Panama. Also, a couple of years ago with the help of another missionary, the Booths were able to start a deaf ministry. In January my family and I were privileged to visit the Booths. I asked Brother and Mrs. Booth many questions and some of their answers surprised me. 14 BIMI WORLD Number 2, 2014 My first surprise was that the police are disposed to assist the public and ticket bad drivers. My family ministers in metropolitan Mexico City, and I can tell you that is not the case in Mexico. Second, many people are involved in much of the evil that narcotics and drug trafficking bring to a society, mostly addiction and gang activity. However, the Booths have a burden to reach these people and minister specifically in a particular area recognized as a “red zone” or a region to be avoided. While out visiting with Brother Booth, he pointed out a house to me. He said, “I held a Bible study there with twelve men. Today, each of them is either in jail or dead!” Much of this is the direct effect of the criminal element of Colombia, Panama's neighbor to the south. Because of corruption and lives in ruin, many people are willing to listen to the Gospel. Within twenty yards of the house I mentioned, Franklin and I approached two middle-aged men who were sitting outside, shirtless and seeking relief from the heat. Ariel was riddled with scars on his torso due to a gun fight. We talked with him about the certainty of death, a concept he understood very well. He listened and questioned us extensively as we also spoke to him about the confidence that is only to be found in Christ. Next door, an elderly lady named Irene