Christian youth workers, chaperones safe in Panama unrest and headed home

Christian youth workers, chaperones safe in Panama unrest and headed home

Travel arrangements are pending for close to 30 Seventh-day Adventist young people and their escorts after their mission trip to southern Panama was threatened by social unrest in the region. During the past week,  social and economic protests have paralyzed ground transportation in the Central American country.

The group comprised teens and adults from four congregations in the church’s Chesapeake Conference, or local region, was in the Central American nation to help build school facilities there. 

They were staying at a compound in Las Lajas, Panama, near the border with Costa Rica, but unrest kept the group from going to and from the construction site as protests blocked transportation on major roads in the area, a church statement said.

The group found a way around the blockade and got away from the protests to an area where transportation home could be arranged.

Adventist spokesman Evan Knott said in a telephone interview the group was scheduled to return on Tuesday and “they could still make it home” by then, although “it could take a little bit of time” for travel arrangements to be made.

The churches involved are the New Hope Church in Fulton, Maryland; the Atholton Seventh-day Adventist Church in Columbia; Spencerville Church in Silver Spring; and the Frederick, Maryland, Adventist Church.

A State Department advisory on Thursday warned Americans to “exercise caution” and to “maintain situational awareness” during the unrest in Panama.