Cuba mission team “a beautiful witness” of God working through ordinary people to show His love
Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Five Frazer couples recently went to share God’s love with members of our sister church in Guanabacoa, Cuba. Team members Betty and Brent Smith, Mary Lou and Larry Stevenson, Linda and Truman Hornsby, Karen and John Brantner, and Lisa and Mike Conn gave much and received even more during the nine day mission trip in November.
From start to finish, our team was warmly treated while relationships developed and were strengthened with our Christian hosts at the Methodist Center where we stayed and the Guanabacoa congregation. As team leaders, the Smiths said, “If one of our goals in Cuba is relationship building, then we feel good about what we have seen happen in the last several years.” Betty noted, “I feel that we have put the arms of Jesus around the people of the Guanabacoa church. As I hug them, I feel them relax in my arms as if they are saying, ‘Somebody does know about our struggles here. Somebody does care! We are not alone! Someone is praying for us and trying to help us.’”
The Smiths are passionate about the Cuban people and have worked hard to learn Spanish to improve communication with these brothers and sisters in Christ. Betty took every opportunity to bond with the women we interacted with while practicing her conversational skills. The women responded in kind, wanting to learn English. One of Betty’s fondest memories was staying up until almost midnight bonding with the kitchen workers at the Methodist Center. “With much joy on both sides, “ she said, “we were developing friendships while helping each other with our respective languages.” The Smiths also received an email from our translator, Diamara , which began, “My two dear grandparents…!” An obviously close personal relationship had developed and will continue into the future.
For the first time, the team’s men led devotions with the on-site construction workers. The response was overwhelmingly positive. These Christian men, helping to construct a new 500-plus seat sanctuary, demonstrated their hunger for God’s Word. Their enthusiasm and participation grew as the week progressed.
The Conns planned and presented a Family Team for Christ marriage retreat on Saturday for 25 couples, which grew from an anticipated 18 couples. All daily devotionals, four worship services, and the women’s testimonies throughout the week supported the mission trip theme of “Building Family Teams for Christ.” The effort was an unqualified success and two couples were trained to continue Bible studies to strengthen marriages in the Guanabacoa church.
The Brantners, on their first-time trip to Cuba, noted that “the glow of Christ’s light in an otherwise dreary communist country was a welcome surprise and encouragement. His love was felt in and through the Cuban Christians. They are passionate in their worship and glowing in their demeanor. They were warm, welcoming, grateful for our presence and quick to smile and hug. We were especially touched by the commitment of the missionaries sent out by the Guanabacoa church to start three rural mission churches with almost no resources. God’s provision was apparent as we visited those three ‘churches,’ which meet in homes or a make-shift outside area and despite all odds, continue to grow.”
Larry Stevenson documented the entire mission trip through photography. Each couple participating in the marriage retreat received a gift photo taken in front of a mural painted by Frazer member Susan Poole. Their broad smiles communicated how much they loved these mementos.
The entire team worked as a really cohesive unit as God’s presence and protection was evident throughout the trip. The unique gifts, experience, faith and passion of each team member combined to accomplish the goals of the trip in a God-honoring way. Each person was needed and Spirit-filled, a beautiful witness to what God can do through ordinary people dedicated to serving Him.
The team was extremely grateful for all the prayers and support from Frazer and the Sowers Sunday school class. Because of the generosity of others, we were able to carry a lot of things to support the Guanabacoa church and its ministry including children’s illustrated books of Bible stories, 96 NIV Spanish Bibles and 150 Spanish New Testaments. What a joy it was to hear a cry of pleasure arise from a crowd of a hundred or so women when told they were receiving a New Testament Bible. It was indeed a blessing for the entire team to participate in the Lord’s work.