Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate with nine other church members on a mission trip to Cuba. Growing up I remember hearing a lot of negative comments about Cuba and never would I have thought I would have the opportunity to visit the country, let alone lead children’s ministry conferences there.
My primary task was to equip church leaders to be more effective in their efforts to reach and teach children. I began with the most basic of topics, speaking in very simple (and translatable) sentences. For four hours we examined the topic of children and salvation. We talked about the do’s and don’ts of presenting the plan of salvation to children. I was most impressed when I had the leaders find partners and use the VBS “Memory Cross” to present the ABCs of becoming a Christian. The next morning a lady told me she used the Memory Cross to tell her daughter about Christ.
On day two of the training, we examined how children learn and how we can teach teachers to impact the lives of children. The wife of the pastor of the church I was teaching in summarized the day best. She stated, “I have often wondered why my own children act the way they do. They have the same parents and have been given the same things, but they all learn so differently. I wish our teachers would learn this and apply it to their teachings. I also think it is important that adults know this because it is how we learn. We can’t expect the children to learn if we don’t help them.”
Our final four-hour session was on reaching parents. We ended by talking about the importance of dad and how dad plays a role in the family. At the end, we had the fathers in the group stand. It was amazing listening to the women in the group pray for these men. The prayers of the Cubans spoke to me (although I understood very little of their words); their excitement and anticipation was enough to make me think about my own prayers.
For two and a half days, these church leaders sat in chairs listening, asking questions, and writing down everything that was said. When I would complete the topic for the day, the people would just sit there. My translator said, “They don’t want you to stop. They want you to teach them more.”
The Eastern Baptist Convention of Cuba has made a decision to focus on children’s ministry for the next several years. The leaders have realized that if they wait until the children grow up to reach them, they have waited too long. Please join me in praying for the leaders to know how to focus their attention on children’s ministry and for the church leaders to apply what they learned.
Here are some memorable (and fun) facts from the trip:
• I rode a church bus that would not meet standards in the United States.
• I was stung on the lip by a bee—my lip swelled both inside and out.
• I was stung by a jellyfish in Cancun on my layover coming home.
• I taught 63 people from 19 different churches.
• I saw 9 people accept Christ as Savior and Lord.
• I prayed with people who felt they were not good enough for God to love.
• I sweated in more ways than I care to remember.
• I ate the best food I have ever eaten on a mission trip.
• I saw God do awesome things I’ve never seen before.
• I developed a love for the Cuban people and their hunger for God.