Water Purification Systems for Cuba
The water purification system is by far the most complicated and complex cause the Southwest District has tackled. From an innocent conversation in the back yard at the Tacajo church, we learned of the problem of contaminated water in Cuba.
After two and half years of investigating, disappointment, getting back up and starting over, we found a supplier in Fort Myers, Florida. No one had ever done this before. As we continued to pray, Allen Speers, CEO of Agape Flights, answered the prayers. Prayers were answered that day with Agape Flights in Venice, Florida, being approved to fly into Cuba.
Kenn Visser, from Water One Systems, and I made a trip to Cuba and investigated the many water challenges ahead of us. Through this trip, Water One Systems now had a better understanding of the challenges they needed to overcome.
ADOPT A CUBAN PASTOR
If a pastor does not have a sister church, then the pastor does not receive a salary. More then 60% of Cuban pastors do not have a sister church.
On a recent trip, one day at the end of our trip we traveled to many churches within the district. Today we were going to three churches that did not have a sister church. The first two went as expected, but the third stop made me so proud of the Southwest District.
Upon arrival, the pastor, his wife and children were waiting at the front door. Before I could say a word, the pastor was telling me about the greatest day in his life. Because of the Adopt a Pastor Program, he had received his first monthly salary check for $25. He thanked me over-and-over and showed me his new shoes, plus his wife’s new shoes. With the pastor’s voice breaking up and tears running down his face, he showed me the new sandals their children were wearing.
Bibles for Cuba
Do you know there are pastors in Cuba that do not have a Bible? We can buy Bibles in Cuba for $2. For $4, a study Bible can be purchased for a pastor. Taking the funds into Cuba is by far the most cost effective way to serve this need. We can't take in large amounts of Bibles into Cuba because the cost of the weight makes it prohibitive. The Bibles For Cuba program is a good project for Sunday school classes, Vacation Bible School and any other Christian group.
For the average U.S. family, one stop at a fast food restaurant will cost $20 to $25. Give up one stop, and that $24 will buy 12 Bibles in Cuba.
The Foundation was formed out of “shame.” On a recent trip, a group of travelers were talking with a Cuban pastor in a remote church in the Guantanamo mountain range. We were the first American travelers to visit.
The pastor said, “For three hundred dollars, or a little more, I could put a floor down and fix the roof, so when it rained it would not drip on the people.” At the time, we didn't have the funds to help. We had to walk away. On the way down the mountain side, three Southwest District Board members made the pledge that this would not happen again.
The Foundation was formed and the funds are for church repairs, to relocate churches to a better location or to enhance the growth of church membership.
In October 2016, the Guantanamo District had severe damage from Hurricane Matthew. Some of the first funds from the Foundation were donated to the Guantanamo District. Currently, there are 25,000 homes without a roof in this district and conditions continue to be very difficult.
Young Adult Mission Trip
Over the past five summers, a team of high school students from Florida participated in Camp Canaan, the Methodist Church's Christian camp in Cuba where more than 800 Cuban youth attended camp. At the camp, they worshiped, learned about leadership and enjoyed fun activities with their Cuban brothers and sisters in Christ. The team had a meaningful, fun-filled time and they carried a wealth of experiences back home. Some translated those experiences into life-altering choices, and a desire to continue to work with youth and be involved in ministry and leadership.
Some of these high school students graduated and went on to college only to discover that something was missing in their lives ...there was no Cuba summer mission trip for young adults! So began the idea of developing a mission team of young adults ages 19-25 years old to go to Cuba and work with the youth at Camp Canaan and Mayari in 2017. For more information about the upcoming young adult mission trip in July 2017 go to: http://missions2cuba.com
Youth Trip to Cuba
For the past five years, the Southwest District has sponsored youth between the ages of 15-to-19-years of age for an eight to 10 day trip to Cuba. The youth spend five days in Camp Cannan with more than 800 Cuban youth. They participate in fellowship, worship, play with brothers and sister in Christ in the traditional Cuban form of worship. The intensity of this experience has changed the lives of many young peoples.
I highly recommend pastors, youth leaders, and parents to encourage their youth to take this trip. I guarantee, that the experience will cause them to come back a changed person.
Sister Church Relationships
This is a church based cause. A Sister Church is a long-term relationship between a church in the United States and a church in Cuba. The sister church support begins with prayers for the Cuban church and paying the pastor's salary of $25 per month. From there, we encourage a food program to feed the people of the congregation every Sunday morning. This cost is approximately 25 cents per person for every Sunday morning. This is the best investment you will ever make for your sister church. The Methodist churches in Cuba are growing by 12 to 14 % per year. Only 40% of the Cuban churches have a sister church from the United States. This is not just a Florida program. In fact, we are actively looking for churches throughout the United States that want to adopt a church in Cuba. The church that changes the most from this relationship is not the church in Cuba, it’s your church in the United States.