What would a world without poverty look like?

What does a future without poverty look like? For some families in Northern Panama, it’s an unimaginable dream. 

These families often struggle daily to find the basic necessities to survive. You may be wondering if there is a way to equip these families to thrive instead of simply survive. Many of them just want to support and provide a better future for their family and community. These communities shouldn’t feel forgotten because of their circumstances. 

At Vecinos Ministries, we get it. Changing generational poverty is hard.  We lived this same story. Our co-founder, Barry Henry, grew up in poverty in Panama. His mother moved them to America, thinking this was the only way for him to have a better life. Growing up in the United States offered him an education and skills training. Opportunities that weren’t available in Panama. He married Yvette (our other co-founder) in 1999. He became a minister in 2004 and began working at Attack Poverty shortly after. 

There, he was able to combine his heart for service with the experience of asset-based community development. This allowed him to work with several diverse cultures all over the globe. This combination allowed him to use these skills and follow God’s call to serve his home country. Through this, Vecinos Ministries was born.

We’re committed to equipping, educating, and restoring families and communities in Panama. So they stop feeling forgotten and helpless. The process is simple. The first step is to become a giving partner. After that, we take those gifts directly to the communities through training, education, and restoration. The last step is the easiest. You get to hear and see how families change their future thanks to your giving.

When you become a giving partner, you’ll have taken the first step to help break the poverty cycle in a community. Every family should have the opportunity to provide a better future for the next generation. Your partnership now can help change the legacy of hundreds of families. So partner with us, and let’s get started.

Who is Vecinos Ministries

Barry Henry, Vecinos Ministries Co-Founder

Yvette Henry, Vecinos Ministries Co-Founder

When Barry visited the home where he was raised in Almirante, Bocas del Toro, northern Panama, God opened his eyes and heart to take a new perspective on the poverty he had experienced as a child. God was planting a seed in Barry that became a calling to respond to what he had experienced. As he shared his heart with his wife, Yvette, the process of learning, planning, and building Vecinos Ministries began. 

Vecinos Ministries takes a holistic approach to community development through spiritual growth, education, mentorship, and revitalization. Our heart is rooted in building relationships with, listening to, and loving people living in underserved communities in northern Panama’s impoverished areas. In order to build upon and partner with existing assets, infrastructure, and strengths, we strive to partner with the members of the community and the families they represent. We believe that to have a sustainable improvement in the physical, mental, and spiritual lives in the community, our approach must begin with building relationships and understanding both the strengths and the needs of the community we are serving. We understand that growth is not, and should not, be dependent on us as we are guests in their community. Our desire is that through learning the history of the community and building relationships and partnerships, we will earn the right to share the gospel to those who have not heard it and to disciple those who have.

What are our experiences?

Barry has lived in poverty and served those living in poverty. As a child who was born in an impoverished area, he can recall going to bed hungry many nights, receiving care from missionary teams, and feeling the insecurities and struggles of living in poverty. His mother sacrificed to build a better life for him and his siblings by leaving the family she loved and working in the United States. After 9 years, she was able to afford to bring the family to the states. Barry was 13 years old. His personal experience of living through poverty and living in the richness of grace has fueled his desire to serve people who are currently living in material and spiritual poverty. 

Professionally, Barry has had the opportunity to start and develop asset-based community development in the United States. His experience includes developing partnerships with local churches, leaders, school systems, and community members. He has played a vital role in the startup of several initiative both in the United States and internationally. Listening to the community, hearing their felt needs, and developing a plan that engages the community are strengths that Barry has developed and continues to refine based on both his personal experiences and professional training.

After 30 years of serving in education, Yvette has a deep love of education and understands that education is one of the key factors in developing a community, whether that is the education of school-age children, college or career readiness, or adult education. Her passion for education and ministry is seen in serving on education-based mission trips in the Caribbean and Central America working with local school systems and ministries. She has an understanding of how to engage both children and adults in learning.

Early in their marriage, Barry and Yvette both realized they had a heart for ministry that would include living alongside the individuals they wish to serve, working in community together. This relational aspect of working with people is what energizes and drives them both. They are excited to learn more by serving.

What are our short term goals?

The first goal of Vecinos Ministries is to learn about and listen to the people in the community. In the first six months of ministry, our plan is to live and learn in the community by serving, building relationships, walking along side our brothers and sisters, and building a better understanding of the culture and people of Bocas del Toro, Panama. After this time of relationship building, we will conduct an asset-based community mapping and inquiry in order to better listen to the community as a whole and learn their strengths, hopes, and needs. We anticipate that this work will include surveys of several different geographical areas, combined with prayer, to determine where we will start our work. These surveys will provide valuable information and direction for our next steps as we will prayerfully seek the starting point for forming connections and leveraging strengths to meet a community need.

What are our long term goals?

Once the first community is determined and community input is gathered, we will build a plan that addresses four primary areas: spiritual growth, education, mentorship, and revitalization. The plan will be based on aligning the assets that exist in the community and the partnerships we can develop to address specific needs. As we enter into the work, our prayer is that local leaders will choose to walk this path with us with each step we take, in true partnership. Over time what is started will be turned over to the local leaders to continue, and we will be able to move to another community and repeat the process.

We would love the opportunity to share more with you about Vecinos Ministries. You can partner with us by praying or giving.  Our number is 713-632-4626 or email: barry@vecinosministries.com

 

Barry & Yvette Henry