APRIL 24-MAY 6TH, 2019
Jaguey Grande & Matanzas Province Church & Projects
Province of Matanzas and the town of Jaguey Grande
After a great day at the farm in Santayana, we packed up and climbed back on our bus and traveled another 5 hours east to the province of Matanzas and the town of Jaguey Grande.
Jaguey is the home of the largest Moravian church on the island and one of the most active. Arriving later in the afternoon we had dinner at the pastor’s house (Obed and Alay Martinez, both ordained Moravian Pastors) and then prepared for worship celebrating the 11th anniversary of the Moravian church in Jaguey.
The service drew about 150 people and consistent with our churches in Cuba, the service was led by many of the women and children. At youth camp last summer, Joe Jarvis introduced the concept of a candlelight and love feast service, the church in Jaguey has readily incorporated that service into their services. During our service in Jaguey, the love feast candles were passed out and additional candles were used to have a beautiful celebration of love and adoration of the churches 11-year journey with the Moravian church. We were so blessed to see the dedication the church in Jaguey serves our Lord.
After church the 10 of us from ARMF were split up among the church members and spent the night with our Cuban hosts and dear friends. While the team from ARMF speaks very little if any Spanish, (except for Justin Rabbach) and our host families speak little or no English, these overnight stays are always a highlight of our trip. There is a lot of sign language, Pictionary, sharing photos of families but there is the love from God that allows us to communicate with each other. To a person, those of us going through that experience will tell you that staying with the church families is the most rewarding time of the trip. We stay up for hours laughing and bonding with our brothers and sisters and at the end of the day we feel a special bond with them.
The next morning Obed and Alay again hosted breakfast and then we met with the church leadership team who provided us detailed reports in each area of the church’s ministry. This session alone lasted several hours.
Besides the main church in Jaguey, they have church homes in Bolondron, Agramonte, Quemado Grande, and their newest congregation in Santa Clara. The province is led by Obed Martinez and his wife Alay. Both are ordained pastors in the Moravian Church. Alay is also a trained psychologist and is the Secretary for the National Cuban Council of Churches.
The major focus of the church in Jaguey falls into several areas. Christian Education, Mercy, Visitation and Evangelism. The embargo with the United States as well as their own government’s socialistic ways has caused severe problems throughout the country and as you have seen in our reports they have nowhere to turn. That is why their focus on mercy is so prevalent in Jaguey’s ministry.
They have teamed up with the Catholic and Pentecostal church leaders in Jaguey to form a support team that meets every week to discuss needs in the Matanzas province. In the past year they have supported 42 families with psychological, alcoholic, spousal abuse, depression, domestic violence, child abuse problems. They provide council, day care, food, and various other services to those families in need. The Moravian church in Jaguey started this ministry.
The church is still involved with their ministry to the local hospital for the highly mentally impaired which ARMF and you have supported over the years.
Besides the main church homes that I discussed earlier, the church in Jaguey has also set up 4 prayer groups led by the elders in the church that go out and minister to the shut ins and disabled that cannot get to one of the church homes. The church in Agramonte has been in an elderly couple’s home for 11 years and they have a fear that the church will not survive when they pass, so they are working with Pastor Obed to have their house left to the church for the use of the Agrimonte fellowship once they die. What a blessing to honor their legacy.
Brother Samuel spoke to us about the finances of the church and goals of self sufficiency as well as their future goals. Besides giving 10% of their offerings to the Moravian HQ in Havana, (as all churches are now doing) 4 of the church leaders have invested 60,000 peso’s which in roughly $2,500 USD in a savings account to handle emergency issues that may arise. What an amazing initiative for this church.
With this church update completed, the church leaders addressed their project and need projections.
- The most immediate need is the purchase of 2 water tanks, to complete the installation of the clean filtered water project. The system is installed and secured so the church and community can get access. They estimated the cost for these two tanks would be $760 usd so ARMF voted to leave those funds for the church. Knowing how focused the church is on service and evangelism; we can’t wait to see this water ministry in action.
- The next project they want to pursue is the rebuild of Brother Samuel’s farm. He has 80 acres in an area close to the Bay of Pigs, that we have been supporting from the beginning of the foundation. He had all kinds of fruits and vegetables at the farm and has supported his family, the church, the local schools and the community in need with his crops. With your support, ARMF has supported this farm with funds to purchase plants, build caretaker huts, equipment, irrigation and wells, chainsaw’s etc. This is such an effective and fulfilling ministry. Unfortunately, this farm has been destroyed twice in the last 3 years with hurricanes. Each time Samuel has built back and recovered. After much thought and prayer, the church and Samuel realized that so much good has come from this farm, and it is time to rebuild and renew this ministry. They have requested $1,000 USD to reinvigorate the farm ministry.
- Another initiative is what they call the “Nino” project. Each Sunday, one of their elders drives his flat bed truck around the community picking up the children to come to Sunday school and church. If he did not do this the parents would not bring them. While they get to church, more than likely they have come with little or no breakfast. They want to supply breakfast every Sunday for all the children. This would touch on average 25 children each week and is in keeping with their goal of Christian education and service. They estimate the cost of this ministry would be $300 cuc or usd a YEAR.
- The last need the church is focused on currently is the refurbishing of the pastor’s vehicle. The vehicle is running but the frame is rusting away, the sheet metal is disintegrating, and they are concerned they will be left without a vehicle to get to all their churches and outreach programs without transportation. They have had the Russian Latta for 14 years and it was many years old when they got it. They have had it estimated that the work they need done would cost $1,000 USD.