Classis AB North friends,
As you have hopefully seen in your bulletins or online media content, the relationship between CRC churches in Cuba and Alberta continues, but there is great need in Cuba right now. The Cuban CRC needs our help: Our Cuban brothers and sisters in the 14 Christian Reformed Churches on that island are suffering doubly right now, with COVID and with worsening economic conditions that have made food harder to find and more expensive to buy. The Cuba Connection Committee of Classis Alberta North needs your help to alleviate their suffering. We are raising money so their deacons can provide food to the old, the unemployed and church staff. Watch the video below to learn more. Mark your cheques to Resonate Global Mission and make the note: Cuba Connection. Thanks for your support!
In 2019, John Strikwerda (Chairman), Larry Lutgendorf (Resonate), and Jim Dekker (translator/historian), visited Cuban churches for a week. Six churches were seen. Many discussions with pastors and staff regarding the activities such as senior services, outreach and congregational activities took place. In all instances we were received with great hospitality.
On the weekend we visited the Havana church pastored by, the President of the churches, Yordanys Ortega. We met on Saturday with the new council and representatives from La Grave, Grande Rapids Cuba committee and Luis Peltier, Resonate leader for the Caribbean countries. The discussion centered on presentations relating to the work of the Cuban churches and how we can support them. The needs identified included pastoral family support, continued development of the national office, repair of pastoral houses and churches, and support for evangelism and education.
Practical needs such as vehicle repair and replacement were also tabled. One final important project identified was the desire to put in place church twinning. All of these discussions were prefaced with the reading of 1Peter 2:9.
We joined the Sunday worship service with an exuberant congregation and an uplifting spirit. We enjoyed a wonderful meal with the Pastor and his family and members of the council. It was a true celebration of love between members of the Church universal. Throughout all of this, a program of enhancing relationships between Classis Alberta North and the Cuban churches was developed.
Unfortunately, the pandemic put a hold on the committee’s ability to meet and pursue these endeavors.
Early last Fall we were receiving indications of a change in Cuban government monetary policy. Numerous emails from Cuba confirmed the worst possible scenario for churches generally and our affiliated churches particularly. Effective January 1, 2021 the Cuban peso was being valued relative to the US dollar. The immediate result was high inflation. Coupled with the change in monetary policy was the raising of the minimum wage.
While this move might be considered positive, the result is massive layoffs for the churches. There is no possible way the churches can afford to pay those wages and continue their diaconal work, pay inflated prices for food, etc, and pay their pastors. More than 19 people have been put out of work. Food and drug supplies are becoming harder to get. Prices are high. The situation is very bleak for the Cuban people.
We sent $3500 to the Cuban church in December of 2020. Another $5000 dollars will be sent shortly. These are all a result of donations made by various churches in our Classis and we want to thank you so very much! Supporters in the USA are also sending funds. We are coordinating with our American friends in both understanding developments and responding as best we can.
Thank you to all who have supported the Cuba Connection Committee. That support has been very thankfully received by our brothers and sisters in Cuba. Seniors are fed and housed. Children are learning the gospel. Members of each church are supported where needed. Outreach is happening. All this at risk due to arbitrary decisions by government.
Please continue to hold the Cubans in your hearts and prayers. Where possible, hold a collection in your church and send the money to Resonate Canada earmarked for the Cuba Connection Committee. Once again, thank you for your prayers and support.
On behalf of the Committee,
Included below is a short newsletter from the LaGrave Cuba Committee that tells more of the story. Feel free to download and read it as well.
Thanks to your faithful support, extra gifts and God’s continued blessing, here’s what the Cuba Connection Committee has been able to accomplish in the past two years:
1. Container to Cuba: It took about a year, most of the delay caused by “red tape” in Cuba, but a container filled with badly needed bicycles, office and other equipment, parts, all manner of goods in such short supply and even a small tractor was finally delivered to our brothers and sisters in the Cuban Christian Reformed Church in late May 2016 (see separate report and photos. The tractor is for a small farm the church has to grow food for their seniors feeding program.) Thanks to the generosity of many individuals and a few organizations, churches and companies in Alberta, we were also able to send wheelchairs, clothing and medical supplies---even 60 donated soccer balls plus windows and doors for a new parsonage. In a land that has so little, the goods in the container will make a real difference. Thanks especially to Rene Hebers from Bethel CRC for his tireless work heading up this thankless and endless, complicated task!
2. Torriente parsonage project: This project to replace a pastor’s home that was literally falling apart is now complete (see also separate report and photos) thanks to the windows and doors that were shipped in the container. There may be money left over, combined with gifts from some churches in the U.S., to replace a second condemned parsonage for another CRC minister in Cuba. Thanks the generosity of the churches of our Classis, more than $25,000 was raised (over and above our usual modest $5,000 annual budget) to replace a dangerous, dilapidated pastor’s home and diaconal ministry centre feeding dozens of seniors twice a day, five days a week.
3. Mutual visits: As you may recall, Pastor Antonio from Torriente Christian Reformed Church in Cuba visited us in November 2015 and was able to go to a number of churches, organizations and events. We hope to invite a few more Cuban pastors this fall, but it is often hard or impossible to get approval from the Canadian government for their visits. We also send teams to Cuba most years to keep our relationship strong, and did so again in March 2016, including both Rev. Roy Berkenbosch from The King’s University and Rev. Jim Dekker from World Missions. Both pastors preached and taught and Jim was the team translator. More trips are planned – our visits are very encouraging to the Cuban church.
Cuba Connection Committee
Thanks for new pastor’s home in Cuba!
May 2017 Update
Thanks to your faithful support, extra gifts and God’s continued blessing, here’s what the Cuba Connection Committee has been able to accomplish:
Torriente, Cuba parsonage project: Thanks the generosity of the churches of our Classis, more than $25,000 was raised (over and above our usual modest $5,000 annual budget) to replace a dangerous, dilapidated pastor’s home and diaconal ministry centre feeding dozens of seniors twice a day, five days a week. This project to replace a pastor’s home that was literally falling apart was completed earlier this year, thanks also to the windows and doors that were shipped in the container we sent last year. There is enough funding left over, combined with gifts from churches in the U.S., to replace a second condemned parsonage for another minister in Cuba. That project has already begun.
Pastor Antonio and his wife in front of their new home in Torriente, Cuba, in their new kitchen and with donated bicycles and many other things to make life a little bit easier – thanks to you!