The Cuban people now face one of the saddest moments in the past few years.
On September 8, the northern coast of Cuba was slammed by Hurricane Irma. It made landfall, with winds of nearly 160 miles per hour … the first Category 5 hurricane to hit the country since 1937.
But in the midst of this crisis, there is hope.
Norberto, the president of our partner denomination, shares what he has seen firsthand on this island nation.
In the midst of the destruction, we want to learn from the example of Jesus … we want to love those who need our love. For this reason, we are helping those who are suffering. We know that God can turn this crisis into opportunities and the problems into blessings.
To date, we have started 10 community kitchens to feed the needy. The churches are serving the communities as a light in the darkness. Volunteers are seeing new ways to serve the people and testify of God’s love at the same time.
While Irma did much damage, the Cuban church stands together today to rebuild the fallen walls and to give witness to the victory of the king of kings.
"Blessed to Bless." That’s what I saw when I entered one church that had been badly affected by the storm. I never thought that I would see that phrase on a church wall that was almost destroyed. The pastor’s family lost nearly all of their belongings and had no food to eat. They went two nights without sleeping. Yet, the phrase echoed in my mind: "Blessed to Bless ..."
The pastor of this church and his family knew that Irma was going to change their lives, but they never imagined that the change was going to be for good.
Today and every day, the church feeds 180 people, and their contacts continue to grow. Many are asking, “Why do you do it?” The pastor responds, “Because God loves me, and I want you to know that he loves you too.” God has blessed this family, and they want to bless the people that live there.
The people are beginning to feel encouragement and hope. You can hear laughter and see happy faces while the church serves them with love.
Another story that fills me with joy happened when I visited a church in which most of the building was destroyed, but part of a wall that remained said, “Instruments of Change 2 Timothy 2: 21.” The pastor had just started a series on discipleship to teach them that sanctification is God's instrument to achieve good things from the hearts of the people. After the ravages of Irma, the church is beginning to understand firsthand the meaning of the words: "agents of change."
Today, members of this church cook for more than 200 people daily. Most of the church members volunteer with the community kitchen, and they are instruments for change in the hearts of the people as they serve and love in Jesus’ name.
The message of the Gospel becomes real when people can see what God has done among his people. To God be the glory!
If you would like to donate to relief efforts, give here.
Natural disasters will happen.
From earthquakes in Haiti, Japan, and Ecuador to typhoons in the Philippines, flooding in India, and tsunamis in the South Pacific, disaster strikes and destroys ... lives, homes, buildings, and livelihoods. When disaster hits, OMS wants to be there early to help assess the situation and the destruction, find local help to partner with, and then respond with life-saving emergency aid, staying for the long term to help people recover and rebuild.
That's preparing for the best ... in a bad situation.
That's the OMS way.
The 2010 Haiti earthquake affected more than 3 million people — one of every three people. Today, almost 7 years since the quake hit, OMS is still building homes and restoring lives.
In recent years, OMS has also helped after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster struck Japan, sent emergency relief kits to those suffering after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
We also partnered with our OMS Philippines team after the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan that killed thousands in the Philippines. Today, there is a new church plant in the hardest-hit area as a result.
Most recently, we have helped with earthquake relief in Nepal and Ecuador. In Ecuador, we've now sent our first work team to help in the rebuilding process.
We cannot respond quickly or effectively without your help. So, OMS wants to be ready for when the next disaster hits. We want to be able to help families stabilize by providing assistance with shelter, clean water, food, hygiene products, and emergency medical supplies.
Would you help by saying YES this Christmas to giving a gift, in advance, for worldwide emergency relief?