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Caravan strengthens bond between members of sister churches

Caravan strengthens bond between members of sister churches

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Caravan strengthens bond between members of sister churches

April 24, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando  {0281}

NOTE:  A headshot of Kincaid is available at

An e-Review Commentary
By Renee Masvidal Kincaid**

Returning to Cuba for the 5th time (as part of the second of two caravans from the Tampa District visiting sister churches in October 2004) after leaving my native land in 1961 was an emotional, as well as a spiritual, wonderful experience. By now, visiting our sister churches in Niquero and Media Luna is like going to visit our families for Pete, my husband, and me.

We now see the beautiful "children" of the "pregnant sisters" we met in previous years growing in the love of Christ. The Niquero Methodist Church, which we had seen as a vacant lot because Hurricane Mitch had destroyed its temple building in 1998, is now two huge buildings that will house the sanctuary, dorms, classrooms and pastor's home. Reconstruction began in 1999 with financial assistance from the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries and is now becoming (what we call) "Solomon's temple" because of the vision and incredible resources God has given to its pastor — Pastor Yordi — to build the biggest structure in town for the glory of God.

This trip was special (as all of them are in different, yet similar, ways). We were there for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Niquero Methodist Church in 1954. At this special Sunday service different members read poems and a brief history of the church. Two of the founding members were present and honored as faithful servants of the Lord in Niquero. About 200 people attended that night.

We had taken a special banner as a present from Bayshore United Methodist Church to its sister church. It was of a beautiful bird with wings made with many white feathers. It read Jehovah — Rophe  — Our Healer and included a quote from Malachi 4:1, "There is healing under his wings." This banner was incredibly significant for several reasons. First, it was hung on the altar on the 50th anniversary celebration of the church's service. Also, before leaving for Cuba, one of the members of our caravan was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue, and he and his parents had to cancel the trip to begin the healing process. Standing in front of the Bayshore banner, one of the Niquero church members gave a testimony in English on video about the significance of the banner's message in Steven's complete healing, and how, with everyone's prayer to God Almighty, he would be standing where she was and giving his testimony of God's mercy and healing powers.

The caravan group visited three of the Niquero's eight missions. One was the first begun by the church, located in Estacadero, a small village about 12 miles from town. In the past year, the missionary who visits this mission weekly, with the help of the Niquero pastors and other brothers, built a new house-church, and many were visiting there and being saved. There were prayers for those who were sick, and God was given the glory for the sister relationship between our churches with songs and praises.

Although I don't have the "teaching gifts" and had never taught a Bible study, the Lord had me teach the Sunday School adult class what I had heard over Moody radio before I left. The title was "Warning Signals of a Self-Reliant Heart." Sharing God's word with about 35 brothers and sisters made us grow closer in our spirits.

The day after we arrived we visited Pastor Rolando and Evora at our other sister church in Media Luna about 18 miles away. We rejoiced in bringing them Christ's love from Bayshore members.

After going through Discipleship class, six new converts were baptized at Las Coloradas Beach. We traveled about 20 miles in a truck with many Niquero brothers and sisters to be present at this joyful occasion.

The last night there, Pastor Yordi took us on a horse and buggy ride (the most reliable transportation yet) to visit different members in town. The electricity had gone out, but there was a beautiful full moon that lighted our way, and the horse definitely knew the way. Praises, love and good-byes were shared with our "families" under dark house porches bathed with the sea breezes. We all promised to write, and we said we would soon return to see them.

Our caravan included five people who visited a number of the Tampa District's sister churches: Jamaica Methodist Church — sister church of St. James United Methodist Church; Manzanillo Methodist Church — sister church of Temple Terrace United Methodist Church; and Niquero and Media Luna Methodist churches.

When we arrived at the Santiago de Cuba airport from Miami, we each went to our sister churches. At the end of the week we reunited in Santiago with so many stories and experiences to share among each other when going back to Miami and Tampa. This is what we said and repeated frequently with our Cuban brothers and sisters, "God is good ... all the time." 

Our last night in Cuba, at the Santiago church, the caravan members shared one last praise and worship service with our Cuban brothers. There we sang a most meaningful song that touched our hearts because it expresses the significance of the Cuba/Florida Covenant sister church relationship. The words go like this:

"God of Covenants, you keep your promises, your Word is true and guides our destinies.
God of Covenants, I trust in your promises, I rest in Your Word — by Your Grace I am here — I will never be the same again as I leave this holy place"


This article relates to the Cuba/Florida Covenant.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Kincaid is secretary of the Cuba/Florida Covenant Task Force.