By Asher F. Tunik
On Easter Sunday 2009 (April 12, 2009) a UMVIM team consisting of 11 persons from Greater New Jersey, Troy, Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware Conferences left for a mission trip to Cuba. I was privileged to be a member of this team. The team was working on various construction projects in Camp Canaan (Camp of the Methodist Church of Cuba) located outside of Santa Clara.
All the members of the team came back physically exhausted and tired. We also came back refocused, recharged, inspired and excited with a much clearer understanding of what God is doing in the world. It was like looking straight into the face of Jesus! It was awesome!
We did not know what to expect when we went to Cuba. What we discovered surprised us. Currently the Methodist Church of Cuba has approximately 300 active churches with 200 or so pastors. Churches are vibrant communities of faith bringing hope, renewal and emotional support into the lives of their members and constituents. As we were visiting different churches we saw faith and personal connections with God that make very real differences in people’s lives. We saw first hand that Cuban Christians are filled with the Fire of Pentecost and spirit of cooperation, they know how to put their differences aside and live together in Christian unity. We saw the spirit of forgiveness and cooperation in the lives of our sisters and brothers from Cuba and that spirit flavors all aspects of their lives.
Our team was working in Camp Canaan (Methodist Camp located near Santa Clara) about 3-4 hrs. from Havana. Currently the facility can host up to 600 people with plans to expand it to host 1500. At present it is one of the largest such facilities in the Central America and Caribbean basin and is used by many different religious and secular groups.
Besides the manual labor of digging ditches, chipping concrete and painting, the team visited seven churches during the two weeks that they were in Cuba. I was privileged to preach two consecutive Sundays in Santa Clara and Guanabacoa Methodist Churches (with the help of an interpreter of course).
If you would like to see a presentation about the mission trip, please contact Pastor Asher at his office in Mt Pleasant UMC, 410-658-5457.