O’Kelley, Eversole Go To Panama As Part Of 45-Member YES II Group PDF Print E-mail
News - Local News
Thursday, 03 August 2017 14:18
Subligna church of Christ Minister Tommy O’Kelley and Robby Eversole, minister of the Pennville church of Christ were part of a YES II program that recently traveled to Panama. They were in Nicaragua last year and plan to go to Costa Rica next year. A total of 54 people made the trip. 
“It is a yearly campaign that we do with a Young Evangelistic Servants (YES II). It is in conjunction with the Forrest Park church of Christ in Valdosta.” O’Kelley said.
“They have been doing this for 60-65 years,” Eversole said.
There are medical missions, construction missions all over. YES II only goes to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama because YES II has kids with them and those three countries are really safe. Places like Honduras, Peru and other places are not safe to take kids.
YES II Campaigns are hands-on, heartwarming, working mission efforts into Latin America specifically designed for young people.
Young Evangelistic Servants from congregations throughout the United States join their counterparts in Latin America to encourage, uplift and teach children and teenagers about Jesus.
“Basically it is taking young people and teaching them how to teach others,” O’Kelley said.
This was the seventh year that Eversole has been on a YES II trip,
“I got Tommy (O’Kelley) to go with me last year and he fell in love with it,” Eversole said.
The trip lasted nine days and the group flew from Atlanta straight to Panama.
Each day started off with us meeting at our starting point and having a morning devotion which consisted of a few songs.
“One of the young men would lead us in morning devotion and then we would have prayer. We would then get our groups together and take off and go knock on doors and hand out flyers,” O’Kelley said. 
The flyers were for inviting people to Vacation Bible School and the gospel meeting. 
They would do that up until lunch time. They would take an hour or an hour and a half for lunch and then go back and do the same thing in the afternoon after they made sure everybody was there.
Panama is mostly Catholic.
“I did run into Jehovah Witness, Latter Day Saints and Evangelical, but the most were Catholic,” O’Kelley said.
During the course of the week, not only were they doing the door-knocking campaign but they were also extending invitations to the gospel meeting which were held all week long at night. 
“We would take the flyers to the individual houses and give them to people on the street,” O’Kelley continued. “If they had children we would always carry candy with us and give some to them a sucker or whatever and try to establish a relationship with them.”
The gospel meetings would have approximately 150 people in attendance each night.
“For the week, we knocked on 968 doors, somebody might answer and sometimes not but we would still leave flyers,” O’Kelley said. “We had 1,172 contacts where we would meet them in the streets and we would not hand them something, we would actually converse with them and ask if they went to church anywhere and would they be interested in Bible studies.”
The group conducted 448 Bible studies, eight Baptisms, 335 in attendance for Vacation Bible School, did a ladies class taught by ladies and there were a good number of restorations for the week.
“God blessed us tremendously,” O’Kelley added.
This was the second year that O’Kelley has been a part of the YES II group campaign.
Next year the group will go to Costa Rica, O’Kelley said. All of the group’s work is in Latin America.
“A majority of the people in Panama are very poor,” he added. “However, Panama is one of those areas that are more blessed than Nicaragua was. They have more money coming in basically because of the Panama Canal.”
The United States has a huge influence on the people of Panama in the building of the Canal and when the U.S. turned the Canal over to the government and to the people, they adopted the U.S. currency.
The YES II group between times of giving out flyers and contacting people took time to play volleyball and soccer with the kids.
On the final day of the trip they hold a banquet with all the translators and also earlier in the day they have a tour day where they visit sights in the area such as the Panama Canal this year.
The local preachers did all the baptizing, O’Kelley said. None of the Americans did any of the baptizing because we wanted the people to connect with the local preacher and local congregation.
Eversole has gone on campaigns since 1991 and has gone to Antigua, Jamaica, New Zealand, Montserrat, San Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, etc. 
Several of those destinations he has been four or five times.
“It is something I love to do,” Eversole added. “We take high school or college-age kids and we take them door to door and teach them to teach others. That is the great commission.”
He said that he has plans to keep going until he is 65 on the trips.
“That will be four more years and then I will reevaluate it,” Eversole added.
Eversole said he went down a few days earlier to teach at a school or preaching in Panama City, Panama.
“I taught a few days before the campaign started and then met the other guys at the airport,” Eversole said.
He said that he enjoys the trips.
“I live for a large measure for that trip each year,” Eversole explained. “I have always had a missionary heart.”
He said these little 10-day and two weeks trips massage his desire of being a missionary.

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