CUBA - U.S. Partners Serving Children
by Rob Weingartner
A long-term relationship between the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba (IPRC) congregation in Guanabacoa and the First Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Thomasville, Georgia, has been bearing fruit for nearly fifteen years. The congregations decided to walk together and pay attention to what God is doing in their contexts, and together they have discovered new ways to share in God’s mission.
For followers of Jesus, the idea of partnership comes to us not from the business world but from God’s Word. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians: “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
The Outreach Foundation regularly takes Presbyterians into the world to see how God is at work through our global partners. One of the places we go is Cuba. While traveling with Outreach years ago the Thomasville congregation “connected” with the congregation in Guanabacoa. They visited back and forth, got to know one another and began asking what God might have them do together. Out of that discernment came a creative initiative caring for persons and families living with HIV/AIDS in Guanabacoa. The work is being done thanks to the gifts of the Cubans, the Thomasville church, and a few other U.S. congregations. Together, they are doing something that none of them could do on their own. For several years running this ministry -- carried out in Jesus’ name -- has been awarded a “Hope Prize” from the Cuban government. That brings to mind Jesus’s words, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Mathew 5:16)
During a First Pres visit to Cuba in September 2017, the Guanabacoa pastor shared his dream for a children’s (day school) ministry. The Thomasville folks immediately saw the wisdom and kingdom potential for such a ministry. They have worked together to develop a plan, and now these partners are seeking several other congregations to come alongside them, investing in the families of the Guanabacoa neighborhood. These two outwardly-focused congregations have been walking together for many years, and they invite you to join with them in their new venture serving children in Jesus’ name. There would even be an opportunity for a small group or an adult Sunday School class to join with them.
If you would like to learn more about the children’s ministry in Guanabacoa and how you can participate, if you would like to walk with these dear friends, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An African proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." Mission together has its own challenges, but it is so much better in the end – for us, for our partners and for those whom we seek to serve.