A letter from Josefina Saez-Acevedo serving in Cuba
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).
Saludos desde Matanzas:
How time flies! It has been four months since our arrival at the Seminario Evangélico de Teología (SET) in Matanzas. Things are moving along at a steady pace. Many groups have come through Matanzas since our arrival. David and I have been blessed to meet new colleagues in mission and ministry. Several Living Waters for the World teams have come, giving us the opportunity to share our call story to Cuba and our experiences thus far, and to hear of the impressive work they do within diverse faith communities.
We have had the opportunity of greeting many other groups from the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Central and South America, and Puerto Rico. It has been great to greet old colleagues, professors and friends from the United States and Puerto Rico who have come to teach short-term courses and/or participate in events sponsored by SET. Other Presbyterian Church groups have come on their way to or from visiting their “hermanamientos” (sister churches) throughout Cuba. Many of these hermanamientos have a rich history of ministry and mission together. Other more recent hermanamientos continue to progress and evolve with great hopes for a long-lasting and blessed ministry together. It has been humbling to know that even though the blockade has created walls of division for so many years, Christians have continued to establish, maintain and grow ties of love and ministry with our brothers and sister in Cuba.
Here in Cuba many young men and women continue to discern their vocation to ministry in the midst of everyday hardships. One of these hardships is the lack of reliable transportation. These seminary students do not own vehicles. They go to their mission field on the weekends by bus, hitchhiking, or using other modes of transportation including: horse and buggy, motorcycle, and privately owned cars used as “carpool taxis.” Once students arrive at their church communities, they walk to their final destination. When David and I hear these tales we cannot imagine our seminary years without reliable transportation, yet this is normal for Cuban seminarians.
As the 2015-2016 academic year comes to a close, we have had the honor to come to know five of the six seminary students of the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Cuba (IPRC) who are currently enrolled. We would like to briefly introduce four of them to you, request your prayers for them and encourage you to inquire about them when you come to SET:
• Zorky Crespo Orozco. Having completed her five years of study, Zorky is the only Presbyterian graduating this year. She has been married for one year to Rolie and is a journalist by profession. The IPRC congregation in Perico, Matanzas, is blessed to have her appointed as their new, full-time minister since March 13, 2016. Her ordination exams will take place sometime in October. We look forward to her ordination sometime in December 2016.
• Tirisay (Tiri) Durán Martínez. Tiri is an energetic young woman from First Presbyterian Reformed Church of Habana. She is in her second year of seminary. Tiri has been engaged in ministry as a Christian educator, as president of her youth group, as one of the youngest ruling elders in her home congregation in Habana, as youth moderator of the synod and, most recently, as program coordinator for youth formation for the Cuban Council of Churches. She felt called to ordained ministry after completing her degree at the University of Habana. Her pastor, Rev. Héctor Méndez, helped her discern this call. She is currently assigned as student pastor at the small congregation in Cidra, a mission of the IPRC church in Sabanilla. Tiri is to graduate in June 2018.
• Yailen Regueiro Gutierrez and Dargel Leyva Cruz are married and are members of the IPRC church in Guanabacoa. Both are second-year seminary students. Yailen was recently approved as a candidate for ministry with the IPRC. They are proud parents of 5-year-old identical twin boys, who keep them very busy. Raised in the Catholic tradition, Yailen sensed a yearning to serve God in some special way. Although she served in many areas in her Catholic parish, she felt that women were held back and not given many ministry opportunities. A friend invited her to visit the IPRC church in Guanabacoa, where she was finally given “permission” to freely serve, developing ministries that ignited her sense of call. Dargel was called to be the full-time seminary intern at St. Nicolas Presbyterian Church; while there he fully came to understand that he too was being called to ordained ministry. Currently Yailen is working with IPRC Central in Matanzas while Dargel works in Varadero, serving a mission church in the town of Guacima. They both look forward to graduating from seminary in June 2018.
SET will welcome two new inquiring Presbyterian seminary students next September:
• Adriana Guerrero from IPRC Unión de Reyes is currently completing her Master of Theology degree through the extension program and will officially come under care as an inquirer to ordained ministry. She currently shares pastoral responsibilities at the Cidra mission with Tirisay (mentioned above).
• Fernando López Marchado, 18 years of age, from First Habana, will be the youngest IPRC inquirer to come under care. He has just completed his year of mandatory military service.
David and I look forward to a long friendship with each of these students. We hold great respect and Christian love for each of them, as well for other students at SET. What a privilege to be in partnership with each of them, with the seminary, and with the church in Cuba!
As David wraps up his Advanced Greek course, he has admiration for these future colleagues in ministry because they each have made a commitment to serve the church of Jesus Christ here in Cuba in circumstances that are less than ideal. Our prayer is that you too will come alongside us as we continue our journey in partnership with our brothers and sisters in Cuba. At times it has not been easy, yet we have come to appreciate in these few months that life can be lived abundantly in a different context.
A word of thanksgiving to those who prayerfully support our ministry financially. Your commitment fills us with continued hope because you value our partnership and ministry here. We also thank those who continually lift us and our Cuban partnership before our Lord. Your prayers are priceless. Our prayers are lifted for each of you as well. Please let us know too how we can come alongside you and your faith communities in prayer. David and I continue to hold fast to Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love, God who are called according to his purpose.”
You 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.