Campus Ministry in Cuba
On May 7, the Chowan Campus Ministry Mission team went to Santiago de Cuba, Cuba for their first international mission trip since the Covid-19 pandemic. Read Minister to the University Rev. Mari Wiles’s reflection on the experience.
I have a map of the World that I found in a flea market in Brooklyn, NY. It was printed the year I was born. I love the colors but I especially appreciate the reminder that in my short lifetime countries have fallen, been taken over, changed their names, divided, etc. Lines on the map are all man-made. None of us chooses where we are born or what passport we will carry. But somehow I don’t think God sees it that way.
We had the opportunity to go and spend time with our Brothers and Sisters of faith in Cuba. Cuba is a gorgeous Caribbean Island just 90 miles off the shores of Florida. But the stark realities of communism rob the people of basic human needs. Currently, there is a massive food shortage and no gasoline is being sold on the island. How would that impact your daily life? It is a deep burden for these people.
We were able to take in over 550 pounds of food (rice, beans, canned chicken, peanut butter, powdered milk, spices, oatmeal, and grits) medicines, and underwear as well as some children’s sports equipment and craft supplies. We were humbled when they gathered us together to share with us their gratitude for these things. They were especially grateful for the rice, medicines, and underwear (currently this is not available to buy at all). They said we had brought some bandaging that was a specific need of one patient and had no idea that we would be able to bring it so they didn’t request it. But GOD! They thanked us for bringing underwear and one woman thanked me that we had not just brought it but that many of it was so “pretty”.
Here we have all of what we need and most of what we want and we have God. There they have little of what they need and none of what they want BUT they have God. Their faith and worship express the difference. They are as vibrate as the blue waters that surround their island in living their love for God. They worship with their whole being and do not seem to worry that the government can shut down a church at any time. They do not look at their smartwatch to see “how much longer” or worry that they will get wet when they walk home miles in the rain because the country is in a drought and the rain is an answer to prayer.
We were thankful to spend a week scraping and painting, praying and worshipping, sharing simple yet generous meals, and hearing the passion and pain of our friends. I wish the manmade restrictions would lighten for these people. But I’m thankful that their relationship with God leads them to do heroic things every day. Our host told us on our last day,” When we complain, we disappoint God.” I think our team will attempt to complain less and find ways to delight God more after our time in Cuba.