A Snow Shovel in Cuba

I met Javiel and his family in October 2011 while on a mission trip to Cuba. He’s a pastor who loves and cares for his community and church. He appeared a little overwhelmed and nervous about meeting us for the first time because he was not accustomed to hosting Americans and wanted the best for us even though they had little to offer. The family lived in a wooden house which was about 500 square feet. They did not have a refrigerator, and the wooden planks serving as the walls have been there for more than 50 years and had many gaps between each board. But, on this first visit, his humble spirit shined as he ensured we were comfortable in his home.

Javiel and his family live for the Lord. Unfortunately, some neighbors found this devotion offensive, despised the church, and were cruel to Javiel and his family. During one visit, we prayed for his neighbors, and over time, their hearts softened. Now, his neighbors are quiet and more friendly than before. Most importantly, his neighbors aren’t against them anymore, and the two women talk often. Things aren’t perfect, and God is still at work in their story.

At visits, we break bread and share a meal the family prepares. When we are there on a Sunday, we attend the church service. And, of course, we pray for them as a family and bring essential resources like rechargeable flashlights, shoes, bicycle tires, clothing, feminine products, and medicine. Since then, we’ve made about twenty visits to see the family, and our relationship has grown.

At one early visit, I asked Javiel to tell me what they really needed. He answered something like whatever God puts on your heart as we have many needs. His is a humble heart, but I can’t search for this on Amazon. That is when I told him I would bring a snow shovel. (It’s a running joke I tell people because a snow shovel is the last thing anyone needs in Cuba!) After I explained what a snow shovel is, we shared a laugh, and he let me know what the family really needed. The time invested in cultivating genuine connections builds trust and allows us to help the families we serve effectively.

Through the years, Atulado has helped the family overcome challenges and equipped them to impact the lives of others. Look closely at the original photo on the left from 11 years ago and the recent photo on the right. Notice anything? The family is larger, and the house has changed. Yet, the heart of this family has not changed, but they are reaching more people for Christ. 

Atulado helped fund work to expand the house. Now the first floor consists of about 1,200 square feet. This all-concrete structure holds almost 80 people for church service. It’s built so that the family will eventually move to the second floor, and the first floor will become a permanent worship space. A staircase leads up to an unfinished second floor that’s a flat roof until it is time to complete the work.

Essential resources like microphones for church services, fans during the summer, ministry supplies for children’s worship, and food for outreach events help make worship possible. Also, an electric motorcycle helped Javiel overcome transportation hurdles and visit more congregation members.

Our relationship offers Javiel and his family a spiritual, personal, and financial safety net. They can reach out to us anytime, knowing they are not alone. A trustworthy place to share their burdens allows them to serve the Lord and nurture the faith of others freely.  

“Atulado is love, faith, fellowship, brotherhood, loyalty, and dedication for our family. Knowing that someone always supports us in prayer, thinks of our family, and understands our needs, fills me with joy.” – Javiel

– Wayne S.

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