CUBA 2017

From July 22-August 1, a group set out from various points in the USA to serve the First Baptist Church of Bayamo. Here is a report of what happened while they were there.

The group enjoyed traveling in style in a Cuban bus. Would you believe everyone from the camp fit in this bus in order to get back and forth from the beach?

Group from Springdale Community Church in Louisville, KY

Youth Camp

The first three days of the trip were spent in a town called Guardalavaca alongside the youth ministry from the church, for their annual youth camp. Guardalavaca has a beautiful beach, and the group spent plenty of time there, but it wasn't all beach time.

Giancarlos, the youth pastor at the church, was one of YMI's first students in the Masters in Youth Ministry in Cuba. Here he is acting as the lifeguard even though he doesn't know how to swim (true story).

The camp started every morning with devotions, group discussion, and prayer, and closed each evening with a worship service and a karate demonstration that reinforced what was preached that evening.

Throughout the week, Jeremy White and Dennis Poulette shared the Word of God from 1 John with the students.
The entire group at camp

Tuesday Evangelism

The week was also used for evangelism. On Tuesday, the group set up free barber shops and hair salons in church members houses. The church's students cut and styled hair while others went out to tell the community about it and invite them to the evangelistic service in the evening.

Click a picture to see a larger version of the community hair salon.

While cutting hair, the team would pray and share the gospel with those who had come.

Yilian came to a knowledge of the Lord on July 25, 2017!!

"I knew there was something different about Christians, but I never knew what it was." - Yilian

After talking for over an hour with one of the team members, God moved her heart to accept Christ as her Savior.

Pray for her as she begins following Jesus and sharing her faith with her family and community.

In the evening, many more people from the community came and heard a clear gospel presentation during the evangelistic service.

Karate Demonstrations by Above and Beyond

After the service, Ken and KJ Mahan from Above and Beyond Ministries gave a karate demonstration and reinforced what was preached in the service.

They demonstrated how God allowed Jesus to take the weight of the sins of the world on himself while on the cross.

While sharing the message of the gospel, they were also modeling that every person can use the gifts, talents, and interests that God has given them in order to share the Word of God.

Ken reinforced this in some training time with the youth group's leadership later in the week.

"There is no power without the strength of God in your life."

Wednesday Kids Club

On Wednesday, the group hosted a morning kids club for the children of the community. There were over 50 kids in attendance.

The Bible time was about how God created the Universe for the purpose of knowing Him, but because of our sin we cannot know Him. God, however, provided Jesus as the payment for our sin so that we can know God forever.

Thursday Camp Activities

Thursday was spent wrapping up camp in the morning and traveling back to Bayamo in the afternoon. While in Guardalavaca, the group (along with the youth group from the church) visited a Taina Village, learning more about some of the first inhabitants of Cuba. Then they took the two hour bus ride back to the church in Bayamo, where many parents were waiting for their kids to return from camp.

It was a good time of bonding with the students of Giancarlos' youth ministry, many of whom attend church but do not have a personal relationship with Jesus.

Friday Sports Activity

The youth group at First Baptist Bayamo and a sister church play soccer weekly at a local school. They gather and invite their non-Christian friends to play sports with them, building relationships and inviting them to church. Many of the students from the youth group first started attending church because of this activity.

Friday, the team from the USA went and played alongside these students and took opportunities to share the gospel as well as build relationships with these students, inviting them to youth group on Saturday night.

Training Trainers

Giancarlos introduced the team to Alex, the youth leader at a church near the school where they play soccer. They always have to borrow a ball because they have no means to obtain one of their own. Since the team had brought balls, they gave two of them (and a pump) to Alex and his youth group. They were excited to be able to use this equipment to invite their friends to play and hear the Word of God.

Giancarlos would later tell the group that Alex was in his youth group while he was studying the in the YMI Master's Program. Giancarlos discipled Alex and now he is serving as the youth pastor at this other church in a very difficult area where there is much spiritual oppression.

Saturday Mission Church in Barrancas

On Saturday, the group painted the inside of a small church building in Barrancas and helped put concrete on the outside walls of this tiny brick church building. The tiny church is being planted by a missionary from the church in Bayamo.

Painting the walls of the church.

The youth group also did free hair styling in the community and invited people to an evangelistic service that afternoon, where Jeremy White preached the message of the gospel to many who had never attended that church before.

Jeremy White preaching in the freshly painted church building.

Later, the pastor told the group that, to his knowledge, no foreigner had ever gone into that community to serve in the way they had done that day. It was an incredible testimony to the community and will have lasting impact.

The group who worked in Barrancas.
The sign on the gate says, "Only Christ Saves."

Closing Thoughts from Pastor Noel

Before the group left Cuba, pastor Noel of the First Baptist Church had some closing thoughts about how he and the church had been impacted by the group.

More about YMI

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