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A letter from David Cortés-Fuentes and Josey Saez Acevedo, preparing to serve in Cuba, November

A letter from David Cortés-Fuentes and Josey Saez Acevedo, preparing to serve in Cuba

November 2015 – Getting Ready to Start

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The fall season blesses us with its multicolored leaves as they fall from the trees near our temporary home in Kentucky. Having moved recently from southern California, we enjoy the multicolored sunsets that come with the fall season. As we see it, fall is a time of change. Or better, it is a time of preparation for change. Trees will soon be leafless and snow will cover the ground. Before we know it, winter will give way to a new season and new shoots and buds will signal the arrival of spring with its flowers and signs of new life. So, too, we prepare to begin our ministry as Presbyterian mission co-workers with the Evangelical Theological Seminary (Seminario Evangélico de Teología) in Matanzas and the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba.

2015 Mission orientation participants

But before moving to Cuba, we were invited to engage in a three-week mission orientation program with Presbyterian World Mission. It was an intense three weeks in which we learned the nuts and bolts of what is expected of us as mission co-workers. It was not all work and no play, however. We had wonderful conversations, enjoyed board games, walks, and meals together. Our experience was enriched by our youngest new “mission co-worker,” the child of one of the couples, who filled our time together with such joy and laughter. Having a child among us reminded us all that God loves us as his children.

There were eight participants, six of us beginning ministry as mission co-workers. In addition to the two of us, Charles and Melissa Johnson are getting ready to work in Zambia and Kathy Chang and Juan Lopez are going to the Philippines. Donna Sloan plans to serve as a long-term volunteer in Malawi. Jack Cormack recently began ministering in the North Slope of Alaska and joined the group for cross-cultural learning of his own.

Chapel of the E.T.S. in Matanzas.

As for us, we are called to engage in different ministries with the church in Cuba. David will teach New Testament and Greek at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas. Josey will work as the Partnership Facilitator for Christian Education with the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba.  Our call to ministry in Cuba has a long history. As many others before us, we have decided to surrender our current lifestyle, leaving family and friends behind, readying ourselves to face the uncertainties of a new place. As many others before us, we embark on this adventure of faith trusting the One who called us and knowing that God’s love and care will always be our strength and support.

The other mission personnel who joined us in mission orientation will go to places where they will have to learn a new language and encounter a cultural heritage very different from their own.  In contrast, our ministry in Cuba will share a common Spanish language.  Our homeland, Puerto Rico, shares a historical and cultural tradition that is celebrated in both countries. For instance, one of the most celebrated poems in Puerto Rico and Cuba includes the famous line: “Cuba y Puerto Rico son, de un pájaro las dos alas…” (Cuba and Puerto Rico are the two wings of the same bird…”).[1] So we see our call to ministry as a part of the long history of friendship, solidarity, and partnership between two Caribbean neighbors.

Furthermore, as we are called to this partnership between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba, we understand that this is a ministry not only shared between two denominations and institutions, but also shared between the entire community of faith in Cuba and the entire church in the United States. We all are called to a partnership in mission, not to tell the other what we want and how we want things to be done, but to walk side by side with brothers and sisters and future leaders of the church in Cuba in discerning God’s will for the future of the church.

This ministry is not ours alone. As a ministry of the entire church, everyone can be a part of it. In fact, we all share the same call to proclaim the gospel for the salvation of humankind; we are all called to preserve the truth, and we are all called to exhibit the Kingdom of God to the world. As we have been invited to serve as mission co-workers, we also invite you to join us in this ministry. We will need your prayers for and with us as we embark together on this adventure of faith in joyful obedience to the Lord. We will need the support of the entire church as we become the first PC(USA)-appointed mission co-workers in 50 years to serve in Cuba. We now embark on a four-year journey at a historic moment in the life of our church, both here in the U.S. and in Cuba. Come, let us walk together, trusting that God is involved in this time and place to guide, strengthen and bless the entire church as we move forward in the proclamation of the gospel and to the honor of God’s glory.

Josey & David

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, Cuba, p. 64
Read more about David Cortes-Fuentes and Josey Saez-Acevedo’s ministry

Write to David Cortes-Fuentes
Write to Josey Saez-Acevedo
Individuals: Give online to E200519 for David Cortes-Fuentes and Josey Saez-Acevedo’s sending and support
Congregations: Give to D507587 for David Cortes-Fuentes and Josey Saez-Acevedo’s sending and support
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

[1] From “Mi libro de Cuba” by the Puerto Rican author Lola Rodríguez de Tió.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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