Impressions of a Cuban Journey - Stories from the Mission Field
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Where Church Truly is for Others
We are sitting with our travel group in a small living room. Pastor Alain from the church of La Timba is talking about how they celebrate Sunday services in this 25m2 room with at least 50 people. Then they sing, pray, and celebrate here. A few of us are sitting on a very simple and dilapidated concrete spiral staircase that leads up to the upper floor. The staircase alone seats a dozen people every Sunday. Suddenly Alain says one of those sentences that you never forget in your life: “I prefer to have people and no church building than a building without people”.
The sentence hits the mark: In Cuba, the pastors and congregations supported by EBM INTERNATIONAL consistently think of their fellow human beings with whom they have to deal. They do not first look at their possibilities, such as finances or other resources – they have wide hearts and open doors. Just like the sister of the church in La Timba who opens her house for us and every Sunday for the small growing church. La Timba is a planting project of the Zaldo church. The church in Zaldo has also only existed for a few years. The people in this part of Havana tell about the positive effects of the church work on them: “The many problems, which are often connected with violence and criminality, became less. The neighbors here are grateful for the work the church does,” Pastor Rolando Garcia tells us. He lives with his family on the church property. The church services take place on the roof. That is how it is in Cuba – every place is being used. And when it is time to found a daughter church like La Timba, then the planting simply starts. An older sister from the church tells us about her work with the seniors. They help about 15-20 elderly people most of whom do not belong to the church. Many of them have a pension of less than 15 Euro per month – nobody can live on that. Therefore, as a church, they share what they have and above all, they are there for other people. They pray, listen, and stand together in times of need. Here, no one is surprised anymore that many miracles are experienced and that God’s possibilities are far from over. With small salary subsidies, EBM INTERNATIONAL supports four employees in these foundation projects.
The dream of many communities in Cuba is a small sports field. Pastor Vladimir’s church Villanueva already has a small volleyball court. Maybe 70-100 people belong to the church here – the exact number is not important. More than 200 children and teenagers come to the sports facilities every week. Just before we met Vladimir, a mother was there. “I am happy that my children are in good hands with you,” she said to Vladimir. He continues to tell us with teary eyes because it is a great encouragement for him in the midst of the huge challenges. So many young people in Cuba hardly have any prospects. In a short greeting video, Vladimir says to us here in Germany: “We thank you for everything that has become possible through the support of EBM INTERNATIONAL – not only through prayers and donations, but also through your love for us, which we can feel here”. That is true: Many people in Germany love and support what is happening in Cuba. This makes us humble and a little proud as a mission. Nevertheless, we also want to say clearly that it is time that we in Germany start loving our neighbors as our brothers and sisters in Cuba are teaching us.