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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Lord of the dance


Presbyterian mission in barrio offers kids a chance to shine through the arts

January 2, 2019

You would never know from the joyful exuberance of the dancing children that they live in the midst of grinding poverty.

The Sancti Spiritus Presbyterian Church of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba established a mission in Toyos — one of the poorest neighborhoods in the town of Sancti Spiritus — to provide hope to the barrio’s hopeless.

On one typical evening about 30 children, from ages 4 to 15, are whirling around the small room that houses the Presbyterian Mission in Toyos, oblivious for the time being to the harsh conditions in which they live. Jacqueline Valdes, a member of the Sancti Spiritus church and the driving force behind the mission, leads her young singers and dancers through a program of religious and secular musical numbers that delights their audience almost as much as it does the performers. They simply love sharing their talents.

And talented they are. Several of Valdes’s charges have performed in local festivals, and they regularly entertain visitors to the mission and its members.

“These children experience and express the joy of Christ through their art,” Valdes says. “They are developing their artistic gifts while learning that those gifts come from God and must be shared as the gospel.”

Valdes says that parents are thankful that the church provides an artistic outlet for their children amid a hardscrabble existence where spiritual nourishment can be hard to find. “Their parents tell them, ‘In this place you can be anything you want to be.’”

Rev. Jerry Van Marter, Former Interim Director of Communications, Office of the General Assembly

Today’s Focus:  Children in Cuba

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Teresa Grant, PMA
Denise Gray, PMA

Let us pray:

Gracious God, may we be open to your freshness and to your recreative work in our midst. Repurpose us to do your work as we live into your kingdom. Amen.

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