It’s been a terrible season of natural worldwide calamity. With the disasters facing our own country brought by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, our attention and hearts are naturally drawn to help those closest to us. That good work must continue.
At the same time a great opportunity exists to help our brothers and sisters just beyond our borders with lifesaving and Gospel empowering help. These include our near neighbors in Cuba and Haiti. Given the bad news that we often receive out of these places, many Americans do not know about the great evangelistic work that is going on in these places. That work has been greatly magnified through the support of the wider body of Christ, needed now more than ever.
The recent hurricanes have taken a huge toll on property and livelihoods. Many pastors and evangelists have lost their homes and property. Three destroyed houses of believers in Cuba are pictured here. In Haiti, the sister of Pastor Clovis, a co-worker of our partner Cebien Alexis, was killed from flying debris at their church. The government in Cuba, which in past hurricanes has offered some aid to the victims is not doing so this time. They are just too overwhelmed. Even food distribution that was previously offered free of charge now comes with a price. There is significant risk of starvation and disease among the people.
Here is how one of the pastors described the situation, “The desolation is complete: There is no food, no shelter, no medicines. The few belongings of the population are ruined by the passage of the hurricane.”
Why is it especially important to help our brothers and sisters there get back on their feet? The humanitarian reason would be cause enough. They do not have social help networks, reserve funds or emergency relief systems. Their access to electricity, clean water and food supplies is dependent on outside sources. But even beyond that, this is a tremendous time for reaching these islanders for Christ. Our ministry partners in Cuba, for example, along with others in the Evangelism Network they are part of, set a target of sharing the Gospel with one million Cubans in 2017. This is a great goal on an island which is avowedly Communist with an overall population of just over eleven million.
And they are well on their way to doing that. Here is what has been accomplished in the first six months of 2017:
• 524,367 people evangelized
• 35,288 people saved
• 12,576 being discipled
• 580,360 tracts purchased and provided for use
• 3,200 Bibles, 2,800 New Testaments and 3,680 Gospels of St. John distributed.
At a recent crusade in Havana more than 68,000 heard the Gospel and over 2,000 of them came to receive Christ right there. In addition, the project has founded 103 new mission stations throughout the country. This is wonderful news.
In Haiti a great openness also exists for the Gospel. In our June visit there we saw church after church that has been opened up in countryside villages through the work of Cebien Alexis and his team. Now many of their church buildings stand without roofs as do the homes of pastors.
Will you help us stand in the gap for our island neighbors? The help that we send will go directly to those most affected, hand delivered by co-workers of our Cuban partner Pastor Ledesma and Pastor Cebien Alexis in Haiti. These gifts will help them deal with the damages to their properties and also with the provision of food and necessary supplies. They will also enable them to reach out to their neighbors who do not know Christ.
At times like this there is always a great openness to the Good News of a saving and loving God. To give online, go to the contribution page of our website, www.hope-builders.org, and click on Cuba or Haiti in the dropdown menu. To give by mail, you can send a contribution to us at Hope Builders International, PO Box 91359, Austin, TX 78709. Let’s help our brothers and sisters and keep the Gospel going forward in the Caribbean!
With love in Christ,
Lance & Christie Thollander