A letter from David Cortes and Josey Saez, serving in Cuba
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Many exciting things have happened in our ministry experience as mission co-workers since our last quarterly newsletter.
First, in the month of June, we celebrated the graduation of our degree and certificate students at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas. A total of three master’s students, five License in Theology students, and many certification students celebrated the conclusion of their studies, full of joy and hope for their ministries and for the Church in Cuba. We have witnessed the dedication and commitment of these students. As the seminary fulfills its theological education and training mission, the Church in Cuba continues moving forward with more well-prepared leaders joining the faithful ordained and lay leaders. It has been uplifting and encouraging to witness how the seminary’s faculty and administration devote their gifts and time not only to the seminary’s overall mission, but also to the ministry and witness of the Church to the broader Cuban society.
We spent most of our summer sharing our ministry experiences with many congregations, interested groups, committees, and individuals. We updated our training with World Mission in Louisville and participated in PC(USA) Big Tent at Washington University in St. Louis and in the Sharing Conference in Henryville, IN. It was a blessing to gather and share during this time together with colleagues. We had the opportunity to learn about what other colleagues are doing through their own ministries. This helped us understand God’s Kingdom in a more global sense. Our coaching time with Michelle Lori and other World Mission personnel helped us refine and better prepare ourselves to communicate and share God’s workings much more effectively.
During Big Tent, David and I had the opportunity to share our ministry experience with others as part of a panel that touched upon reconciliation. Yet, it was not all work. David and I enjoyed much-needed rest at a beautiful retreat center in Henryville at the Sharing Conference. There we were given time for spiritual renewal, received updated World Mission information, and shared time with other colleagues.
We then traveled from state to state, making presentations, engaging in conversations with many brothers and sisters, and relating good news about the Church in Cuba. Our two and a half months took us to several states: Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, California, and back to Louisville, Kentucky, before returning to Cuba. We feel blessed by the many pastors and other church leaders who welcomed us to their churches and provided hospitality to us while we traveled.
As we visited with PC(USA) churches, we shared much about the ways in which the Church in Cuba is devoting itself to God’s love. Most people were surprised when we talked about the faithfulness and growth of the Church in Cuba, especially when they realized that there are 55 churches and only 24 ordained ministers in the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba. In many ways, the life of the Church is sustained by the dedication of the pastors, most of whom care for more than one church; the seminarians who work in local churches every weekend; lay leaders (elders and deacons); and many volunteers whose only compensation is the satisfaction of serving the Lord and witnessing to the broader Cuban society about the love of God and the power of the Gospel.
Our travels this summer affirmed that mission is not only an overseas phenomenon. We saw many congregations’ mission ministries in their communities firsthand. There are ministries empowering refugees by providing work experience, job training, and the necessary counsel to help them navigate the legal system to get their permanent residency and eventually become US citizens. Some ministries offer full-fledged recovery programs for individuals and families; others provide shelter for the homeless and food and groceries to a variety of people in need. These ministries are supported by many congregations and individuals who understand that these are some of the ways to show the love of God for all, share the Gospel with disenfranchised people, and offer hope for all, giving all glory to God. Finally, Christian education programs, such as Sunday schools, Vacation Bible Schools, children’s ministries, music programs, and community outreach are some of the many other ways congregations in the United States fulfill their mission commitments.
In bearing witness to the life and ministry of the Church in Cuba, we have experienced the solidarity and partnership that many members practice with our brothers and sisters in Cuba. We returned to Cuba in September with the good news that there are more congregations that will support, pray, and give thanks to God for the ministry of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba. We returned to Cuba in September with the good news that there are more congregations and people who have a better idea of the ministry of the Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas, more who will pray for the seminary and will share this good news with others. We returned to Matanzas in September with the assurance that there are congregations and members who will keep us in their prayers for months and years to come, that there are congregations and church members who will join us and support us in continuing our ministry with the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba and the Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas.
It is with heartfelt appreciation that David and I thank each of you for your partnership and support during our two years in Cuba. We cannot believe that we are halfway through our four-year appointment that has been possible through your generous prayers, hospitality, and financial support. David and I pray that we have been able to communicate to you via our newsletters, social media posts, and visits how God’s Kingdom is present in the history of the Cuban Church and its people. We rely on your support that enables us to continue partnering with the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba and the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas, Cuba.
Thanking God for each of your servant hearts in mission and ministry,
Josey and David
Please read this important message from Jose Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission
Dear Friend of Presbyterian Mission,
What a joy to send this letter! As Presbyterian World Mission’s new director, I thank God for your faithful support of our mission co-workers. The enclosed newsletter celebrates the work you made possible by your prayers, engagement, and generous financial gifts. We can’t thank you enough.
After I began in April, I met with mission co-workers and global partners and was blessed to see firsthand the mighty ways God is working through them! Our global partners are asking us to help them move forward with life-changing ministries. Because of your support, we can say “yes” to these creative and exciting initiatives.
I write to invite you to make an even deeper commitment to this work. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? We need your gifts to end the year strong. With your help, we filled two new mission co-worker positions and plan to recruit for others. The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer the call to serve.
Second, would you ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s mission budget for 2018 and beyond? Our mission co-workers serve three-year or four-year terms. Your multi-year commitment will encourage them greatly.
Our mission co-workers are funded entirely from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours. Now more than ever, we need your financial support.
In faith, our mission co-workers accepted a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission sent them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts?
Jose Luis Casal
P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!
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