The Journey Continues: Dr. Daniel M. Gruver and his mission with the people of Kuna Yala
My journey this week takes me to Dr. Daniel M. Gruver of San Marcos and his mission to an indigenous people group, the Kunas, of northeast Panama. They occupy a strip of land on the Kuna Yala (formally known as San Blas) Islands and in the mountainous mainland. They are known for their seclusion, fishing, farming and artwork. They have been intentional about preserving their culture, language and way of life.
Due to their seclusion, they face daily issues of starvation, medical attention and education. Thankfully due to the work of past missionaries, many of the villages have access to the Gospel.
The vehicle for ministry is KAF, Kuna Agriculture Foundation, a working farm that promotes physical and spiritual health. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11-12: “And He gave some… for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” The KAF's organizational roots began under the influence of Dr. Daniel I. Gruver who, along with his wife, Jane, established a hospital in the remote Kuna Yala (San Blas) Islands in 1961. Their vision lives on through the agriculture training, food stability and the pastortraining work of his son, Dr. Daniel M. Gruver. We met at a Missions Fair held at First Baptist Church.
KAF focuses largely on food stability. “We try to achieve this by teaching gardening and farming techniques that lead to better farming and food production,” Dr. Gruver said. “We are always collecting seeds and supplies that can be distributed.” Dr. Gruver returned on May 10 from a two-week support visit to Panama and has giving a report about the COVID-19 impact among the Kuna due to lack of hospitals, the difficulty of obtaining face masks, and increased food instability. Earlier, Dr. Daniel Gruver had established a program called ‘Daniel’s Garden’ which has been producing yucca (cassava-tapioca), beans, tomatoes, sorghum, corn, along with plantain cooking bananas and a variety of local produce. Their produce was always distributed among the neediest. From the current trip, he reported that there had been some success with guinea pigs and goats in place of chickens and rabbits (because guinea pigs and goats eat available forage rather than depending on processed feeds required by chickens and rabbits).
Dr. Daniel Gruver, an optometrist, was medically retired from the United States Army. While on active duty, he traveled the world. Daniel has 40 semester hours of agriculture at Texas State University to better prepare him for his mission work. He said, “The number one way to help is through prayer. Pray for God’s blessing of the villages and lives of the Kundas. Pray for food-security and provision. Pray that they may know God Almighty personally. Among this reading audience, if there is any interest to assist this Lord’s work in Panama, feel free to contact Dr. Daniel (Marcus) Gruver, Ag Manager, at 762-208-8002, or email daniel.gruver@ yahoo.com. There is also a Quarterly Newsletter available on the KAF ministry.”
Sue and Daniel live in San Marcos and attend First Baptist Church on McCarthy Lane. They are parents of three children — Michael, Benjamin, and Lindsey. Daniel said, “I have several personal favorite Bible verses but some ‘go to’ verses” including John 15:4: ‘Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me,’ and Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that in all things God Works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ I ask you all to please join me in praying for the pastors of the villages.”