I have to make a living so I can be a Baptist Messenger writer. To do that, I have a ministry that takes students all around the world and involves them in missions.

Last week, I took a group of students from Florida to the country of Panama. On the first part of our trip, we worked in the streets of the inner city, bringing the Gospel to those who would never darken the doors of a church. With police escorts, we walked the streets of the Racatacas, the slums of Panama. We presented the Gospel there, the acrid smell of urine all around. We moved deeper into the slums and ended our time in an area called Baghdad, home to the poorest of the poor. Baghdad is named after the gang that has long had a stronghold in this part of Panama by instilling fear in the local people. There, we saw children making sand bombs out of Coke bottles. When the bottle hits the ground, it explodes. The students rolled up their sleeves, put aside all fear and by faith walked out the incredible story of Jesus for these people.

On the second part of the trip, we traveled to the jungle to work with the Kunas, an indigenous people group. This is not an easy journey as we live in straw huts with no electricity or running water. But someone must go and tell the Kunas that they matter to God. I have taken teams into Panama for 10 years now. Our primary method of ministry is Chronological Bible Storytelling through the Performing Arts or, as most people call it, “The Drama.” In 18 minutes, we present the Gospel from creation through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our story is set around a medieval theme and includes a king, good and evil knights, a prince and the people of the land.

Last week, I played the part of the king for a few days. After we presented the Gospel in the center of the marketplace, a little street girl came up to introduce herself. “I am Marissa and I am 7 years old.” She followed that introduction with a serious question: “Mr. King, can you really make me a princess?”

I told her, “Yes, I can.” I turned to the students and asked for a sword. The little girl stepped back. With fear in her eyes, she asked, “Are you going to hurt me?”

At that point, I noticed the scars on her little body and asked who put them there. She told me the older people in her life had caused them. I told her I represented a kind King who came to take away her scars. I looked into her eyes and spoke into her a new identity. I told her that she was wonderfully made and our heavenly Father thought of her as His favorite daughter. I went on to tell her that she was a person of worth and value. Then I made her a princess. The gloom lifted and the little princess smiled.

No one can discount the power of the spoken word—especially when you give encouraging words to a child. Words can build up or they can tear down. Purpose in your heart today to become a builder of young lives. After all, you never know when the King might call on . . . you.

Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail walker@awestar.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.