“I got home after Church and I thought, there are 2 paths, a bad path and a good path. At that moment is when I had to make a decision: I will take the path of the Lord, which is a better path. I felt that something had changed me. I always thought about things related to partying, to getting drunk, to talking with friends. And I started feeling that I would forget that at the right time…I cried in a bathroom and as I was pouring water over myself, I started thinking, ‘Am I going to continue to think this way forever?’ From then onwards I feel that my life has totally changed. I no longer feel sick. Because what I was going through felt like a sickness to me.”
I was very fortunate to travel by dugout canoe to visit the native community of Embera Puru in Panama. The native people of Embera Puru have successfully integrated tourism into their livelihood, replacing the hunting and fishing that used to sustain them. It was here that I met Edwin Isabare, a native man who overcame alcoholism. I have mixed feelings when I meet people whose indigenous religions have been replaced by modern religion through proselytizing, but I also know that the conversion experience is a profound change of consciousness that changes lives. Edwin describes so beautifully the day when, returning from Church, he understood he had a choice of two paths—a good path and a bad path…and that he wanted to live the good path. It was a great blessing to be in his presence and to hear his testimony of personal change.