Logistics delayed delivery of famine relief boxes to Cuba for more than a year.
Fourteen months after Southeast Christian Church members packed more than 1 million meals of dried pinto beans, dehydrated vegetables and rice for the people of Sudan, Somalia and Cuba during the Famine Relief Food Pack, members of two mission teams saw them unloaded at Alamar Christian Church in Havana.
As the meals are distributed to vulnerable children and the elderly, it is clear that it was worth the wait.
Pastor Eduardo Otero, Southeast’s longtime partner in Cuba, said providing meals is a rare privilege in a country where food is rationed and supplies seldom stretch through the month.
He already has shared meals with the Salvation Army, the Church of God in Cuba, the Retired Priests’ Hospital, vulnerable children and the elderly in rural areas. He delivered some meals to an aging Orthodox Jewish synagogue where elderly Cubans are suffering.
Fidel, the chef at Campo Amor, where Southeast mission teams often stay, prepared some of the meals so people would know how to best use each item in the packets.
In Cuba, Otero also leads more than 100 house churches. He is grateful for the chance to reach the most needy in surrounding areas. Few Cuban households have enough to share. Shelves in bodegas often are bare. Long lines for goods are part of everyday life.
Southeast member Steve Scott has led more than 40 teams to Cuba. He saw Southeast members pack more than a million meals in January 2019. A few weeks ago, he stood with Otero as those meals were unloaded and heard his plan to share them with other churches, ministries and nursing homes.
“Eduardo will steward that food based on wisdom from the Holy Spirit,” Scott said. “He’s already sharing food with those who need it most. He’s giving a few at a time to see impact.”
The Cuban government’s monthly ration per person includes five eggs, one liter of cooking oil, 1 pound of spaghetti, 3 pounds of sugar, 6 pounds of white rice, 20 ounces of black beans, two packets of coffee and 2 pounds of chicken.
It never stretches through the month.
Southeast member Glenn Rodriguez just returned from his third trip to Cuba. He said what Southeast members packed in January 2019 is providing a rare outreach opportunity for Alamar Christian Church.
“It’s amazing to watch. There is real need in rural areas,” he said. “But because food is rationed, it is difficult for the church to meet needs. They’re being met now.”
It’s about meeting needs and more.
“This outreach is another great example of evangelism, sharing the love of Christ by providing meals to those in need,” Scott said.