A note from Jacob Rempel one of our Cuba Representatives.
Over the last few months, I have been able to connect with a number of Cuban leaders. Cuba has not been immune to COVID-19, and like the rest of the world, Cuba has gone into their own form of lockdown. For months, the government has restricted travel throughout Cuba. Even limiting walking
in public to shopping for food or attending appointments. All gatherings, including religious services are banned. For a pastor to minister to his congregation, this is extremely difficult, as there is no access to internet in
most homes and churches. Some pastors write out their messages by hand or type them out if they have a computer and printer (and of course paper). Then, after dark, and out of prying eyes, they distribute the messages to
the families in their congregation. Others who have a smart phone, a laptop, or a tablet record their message on the device and pass it off from home to home.
In recent days some of the restrictions have been eased and pastors are now able to legally go house to house and present messages in person. Spending time together in prayer, praise, and fellowship. Still no church building meetings though. Imagine a congregation of 30-50 families and you visit each one for a few hours each week. What an amazing testimony of a shepherd tending to his flock!
I am confident that in the midst of all this chaos God is looking down with a smile and proclaiming, “THESE ARE MY PEOPLE”! Food supplies and basic necessities like soap and toothpaste are still very scarce in Cuba. When they can be found the prices are highly inflated. Churches are being heavily relied on to help feed and provide for their congregants and even their communities.
The ASSIST CANADA Organization tends to the physical and spiritual needs of the global church in many different countries, including Cuba. I am blessed to be able to participate in the process and the ministry. I have been able to develop strong relationships with many pastors, laypersons and of
course children. My heart aches for them when I see and hear their struggles, but I know JESUS SAVES, and I know GOD is in control. In the midst of all this craziness God has provided ways for me to encourage, minister, and provide for my Cuban brethren both spiritually and physically.
We see this on bumper stickers, in church bulletins and newsletters, and many other places where people choose to offer a concise message of hope.
I am not so good at saving… I spent some time last week drafting my
newsletter. Then I let it simmer for a few days and yesterday morning I went to the office to find my computer had shut down. There must
have been a power outage. No big deal as I save all my work.
BUT… Its gone! OH NO its GONE. Panic, then a frantic search, some frustration and finally defeat when I remembered closing the program and NOT SAVING! I suddenly realized I may not be the brightest guy in my office; even though I work alone. On a positive note, it brought me to a state of prayer, for peace, and forgiveness over my frustration and anger over the situation. God is in control. As I searched the corners of my mind for the words I had typed, the words I had worked so hard on, God drew me to the remembrance that I am not in control. So, I set aside the rest of the day to commune with God and reflect on His sovereignty and His place and purpose in my life. I sure am glad that in my life; it is Christ that SAVES and not me. When I think of all the blunders I have made in Cuba and in Canada I sure am glad that God is forgiving and that JESUS SAVES even the lowly! When I think of all my shortcomings with friends and family, I praise God that He was gracious enough to send Christ to SAVE me! God is good and He is in control. If your feeling a little extra frustrated with all the COVID-19
changes, or just with life in general, remember, the God who created the universe out of nothing, is the same God who we get to call Father!
How AWESOME is that! JESUS SAVES
Shelly, the brains and beauty in our family, has a birthday this week. You can gladly send her birthday wishes and prayers. She could use some cheer in her days. Her regular workload is a full-time job, add all the work related to COVID and its amazing she can handle the physical and mental stress, not to mention finding time for her family. God is in control and He strengthens her daily. Of this we are confident. I wait patiently for Canadian churches to re-open so I can share of the work God is doing in Cuba. I suspect it will be a while before I can get back into speaking in Canada.
The shift in my normal duties has given great opportunity to connect with many pastors, leaders, and laypersons in Cuba. I am thankful for the many cell phones, laptops and tablets that have been provided to the Cubans. They are now a lifeline between our two countries. God is in control! I am so blessed to see God’s people working together and sharing the good news in the midst of a pandemic.
Pray for our Cuban Brethren
The reported number of confirmed cases and deaths related to COVID-19 are fairly low in Cuba. As I type this the numbers are approximately 2,300 confirmed cases with 85 deaths. Cuba has a population of slightly more than 11,000,000 people. They attribute the low numbers to their tight lockdown.
Churches in Cuba have been shut down for a few months. Unlike here, most people do NOT have internet in their home and therefore have no way of receiving online services, fellowship, teaching, and encouragement. Most of them are in more severe isolation than what we are experiencing here in Canada. Pastors have now been granted permission to visit home to home with individual families.
Food and daily sundries:
Cuba continues to experience great shortages in foods, daily necessities, and pretty much any other material. Markets are emptier than ever; rations are less and less daily. The food shortage is now critical, and rationing has been decreased by the government in an attempt to distribute what food there is to all the people. Pray for Medical and Humanitarian Aid to be allowed past the USA blockade against Cuba. 7 sea containers of
medical supplies from China were not allowed past the blockade and 2 cargo ships filled with food from Korea were also blocked.
My best friend in Cuba, Karen, (and other children in Cuba)
Karen normally finds a way to send me an email or message every 2 weeks or so. She is my greatest prayer warrior and a tremendous blessing to me and the ministry. Karen has been in lockdown with her family for a few months and I finally found a pastor who could get a message out to her. She is well physically but not being able to see or talk to friends or extended family is taking a toll on her emotionally and mentally. Pray for the kids in Cuba who are used to always greeting everyone with hugs and kisses and now find themselves totally isolated socially and physically.
Pray for my Ministry -Assist Canada (Cuban Ministries)
I have temporarily paused seeking out speaking engagements in Canada. BUT, Now that restaurants are back open I am planning on a few tours through Central and Western Canada to meet with pastors, leaders and supporters. If you have time for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or coffee, send me a note. I will work it into one of my trips. Pray for many opportunities to fellowship with limited added inches to my waistline. As we all try to adjust to the new normal, I also try to adjust, seeking God in direction and inspiration. Continue to pray for God to raise up the desperately needed resources for the Cuban church, and pray for safe, secure, and unblocked access to deliver those resources. As for my personal financial support, it has never been very high but at this time it is sufficient. Your prayers and God’s grace are more than sufficient for me! GOD is in Control.
Pray that we are always open to hear His word and always willing to follow His lead. For your prayers, we are truly grateful.!