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.