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Blessed by God

By Ramon González Longoria Escalona, Translated by David Johns 

Our church was born when American Friends Board of Foreign Missions was still quite young. For our beginning we are indebted to Iowa, Indiana, Wilmington and North Carolina Yearly Meetings, among others,who combined forces to bring us the gospel of salvation. After the terrible crisis of the 1920s, Cuba Yearly Meeting was founded in 1927. 

Today we have eight monthly meetings. Each of our meetings has its own character and its own ministry, whether it is ministry with children, youth, women, men or with the elderly. During this past year the Commission of Art and Music sponsored Festivals of Gifts that demonstrated for us the rich and varied gifts present in our churches. From the youngest person to the very oldest, people are undertaking service to God that is encouraging the church at every level. This has clarified for us that our ministry priority is preaching and evangelism, joined together with service and witness. 

Thanks to a variety of organizations and Friends meetings, we are repairing our buildings in Puerto Padre, Velasco, Delicias, Holguín and Gibara that were damaged by Hurricane Ike (2008). We are working on major projects such as repairing meetinghouse roofs and parsonages and are also making progress on other minor repairs. Drawing on this network of cooperation and resources, our churches, along with other churches throughout Cuba, are working to alleviate the needs of those affected, through housing, clothing, food and other goods. In all this we give thanks to God because there are always hands and hearts full of love willing to help in many ways as God’s instruments in the face of human catastrophe. 

We are involved in the construction of yearly meeting offices, a future seminary, homes for retired pastors, conference rooms and dormitories in Holguín. The facilities and furnishings at our campground in Gibara are being improved. We are also looking into what the churches and missions need by way of audio and recording equipment in order to help them in their worship services and other events. 

The intervisitation with brothers and sisters of other yearly meetings has enriched us spiritually and has helped deepen our Quaker identity. Our meeting is always open to receiving visits from Friends.

FUM sponsors a work team to Cuba every January. Work teams are a way for us to stay connected to our Friends in Cuba and a hands-on way for Friends to heed God’s call to “go into the world.” Cuban Friends don’t need us to dig their trenches or roof their buildings, but they do need the materials we can bring and embrace the fellowship our presence provides. Work teams generally last two weeks, but the impact on team participants, as well as on Cuban Friends, lasts a lifetime. 

For more information on how you can participate in an FUM work team, contact Terri Johns, program manager, (765) 962-7573; or register online. The Cuba work team fills up quickly, so get your name in early. We will spend time worshipping with our Cuban Friends as well as continue construction on the yearly meeting building in Holguín. All ages and levels of building experience welcome.