A local church has been conducting a unique ministry for several years. Headed by bishop Charles Dorrington, the Reformed Episcopal Church in Saanichton is affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA); it is part of the Diocese of Western Canada, Alaska and Cuba.
The latter country is the focus of Dorrington and his wife. Their ministry has facilitated the creation of six churches in Cuba, with an estimated 525 members. Following are highlights from Claudia Dorrington’s account of the couple’s 2010 visit to the isolated communist country.
I was able to really appreciate the new church/house which we Canadians have contributed so much to. The locals are so proud of their work, as they should be.
They had neither the funds available nor the workmen that we are able to access here in Canada. The 21 plastic chairs were obtained on the black market for $13 per chair. The government price would have been $29 per chair; our Canadian costs would be $10.
What a joy for Dalvis to have new tiles, a new sink with a little stove and a new refrigerator. The government provides the refrigerators for all households, to save electricity. They are about half the size of ours. However, each person is made to repay the government.
The new church is named El Aposento Alto (The Upper Room). Archbishop Ramon has promised that since the house construction is so far along, he can now devote three days a week to pastoring the sheep and evangelizing outside his immediate neighbourhood. Already 10 young adults want to take religious studies from Ramon, to learn more about their faith and deepen their walk with Christ.
Dalvis was very pleased with all that we brought. It was like Christmas, as we unwrapped clothes and emptied shoes to reveal asthma medicine and other drugs, computer equipment and toys. Ramon would later tell us this was our best trip, supplying the things that were most needed
Soon, their daughter Lily, with whom I had prayed for a husband, arrived — five months pregnant — and introduced us to her new husband. They had met because he is her dentist. He has been learning about Our Lord, and has asked Bishop Charles to baptize him. This is very special for the whole family.
Ramon shared how difficult it is becoming for the people. Salaries are the same as they were 20 years ago, but food costs are higher. The government now takes 60 percent of everything the people grow and manufacture.
Foreign investment, except in the tourist industry, is forbidden. Private enterprise and investment is also forbidden, and licenses to sell commodities, especially outside cities and north of Havana, are almost impossible to obtain.
Life is more difficult; the government declares that it has no money, so hopeless restlessness is brewing, especially among the young.
Apparently, the Pentecostal church sends out many leaders — poorly trained, and with little support. However, God’s Spirit seems to be really moving in Cuba, among all the churches. An attitude is changing. Now, officials who are Christians can be in the Communist Party. But it is well known that these men are Christian liberal puppets.
Our churches are growing rapidly, so the needs are increasing. We are not a legal church in Cuba; and since the people are dissatisfied, the government is uneasy — and will use the slightest excuse to shut the churches down.
We would describe this trip as very fruitful under the hand of Almighty God. We have left behind a strong team of Cuban ministers. We feel satisfied that our church in Cuba is in good hands. Three of the congregations are in their own premises. The members are tithing, and their offerings help pay for many of the ongoing costs.
The Lord has been very good to us, and we thank all those people whose generosity and love for the Cuban people have made this possible. Charles and I never cease to be amazed at what the Lord has called us to do in His name.