The long narrow room in a hardscrabble neighborhood of Santa Clara, about 230 miles south of Havana, still resembles the auto repair shop it once was more than the church it has become.
Still, there are thoughtful touches at the church — optimistically named A Place of Hope. A line of wall-mounted fans sit ready to cool those seated on the wooden benches and a projector and screen above the altar in the rear assist with communal singing.
As people from the neighborhood slowly fill the pews on this Wednesday night, pressing cheeks together in greeting, the atmosphere in the room starts to change. The pastor’s wife fervently leads praise songs, a little girl offers an interpretive dance in the center aisle and the call to prayer becomes increasingly urgent.
“God knows your worries. God knows your weakness,” says Leandro Cordero, the pastor, telling the parishioners they must “surrender to his arms.” His sermon focuses on putting God first and accepting divine help.
Click here for the full story courtesy United Methodist News Service. Photos courtesy Mike DuBose, UMNS.