Care for Cuba, founded by Fernando Ortiz (left), has been equipping pastors and lay workers in Cuba with training and materials since 1998. FARM STEW, founded by Joy Kauffman (right), is a ministry dedicated to improving the health and well-being of poor families and vulnerable people throughout the world. In the photo are FARM STEW Southwest Michigan officers Rosie Nash (holding farm tool) and Debi Anvik (with wheelbarrow), along with international board member, Sherry Shrestha.| Photo: Kathleen Morrissy
Illinois member and FARM STEW’s founder Joy Kauffman, saw this situation as an opportunity to expand the ministry by partnering with Care for Cuba, based at Andrews University.
Kauffman said that increasing food availability is one of the main objectives of FARM STEW. “With Cubans going hungry every day and residents not skilled or equipped to grow their own food, it was only natural that we would help,” she noted, and that they are building on a ministry which already has established teams in Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and the United States. “That’s the foundation of our ministry, to improve the health and well-being of poor families and vulnerable people by sharing abundant life throughout the world.”
In light of the fact that the Cuban government has encouraged its citizens to plant gardens, FARM STEW donated 200 manuals and 200 flash drives with the FARM STEW curriculum, giving Bible workers the tools to address the root causes of hunger, disease, and poverty. FARM STEW has now managed to start training in 18 Adventist churches, working with a total of 150 committed families, distributing fourteen varieties of vegetable seeds to each family.
CARE FOR CUBA
Kauffman has teamed up with Care for Cuba, an established ministry which has been equipping pastors and lay workers in Cuba with training and materials since 1998. They are a support system for individuals in Cuba who are willing to go and make a difference in the world for Christ by giving Bible studies and participating in evangelism.
Since 2013, Fernando Ortiz who directs the Andrews University’s Master of Divinity Program has organized a Cuba Study Tour every year during spring break, allowing seminary students to engage in personal and public evangelism. In Spring 2020, they were all packed and ready to go with 60 suitcases full of resources. Although they were unable to travel due to the pandemic, they eventually found a way to still make an impact. A shipping container loaded with supplies was sent to Cuba in December 2020 by Care for Cuba.
Cuba has been greatly cut off from trade, travel, and the world economy over the last sixty years. Pastors, Bible workers, and people in general, are lacking many resources we take for granted, including bicycles, Bibles, mobile phones, computers, the internet, and ministry resources.
While there are 100 pastors and 300 Bible workers in Cuba, few have cars. Bible workers often need to travel a distance to get from one family to the next. “With a bicycle you can cover three or four times as much [area], giving three times as many Bible studies, and probably three times as many baptisms,” said Ortiz, who founded Care for Cuba. “You will see people going to church, daddy driving the bicycle, mommy on the handlebars, and then a child in front and another child on the back.” One bicycle can make a big difference there, so they were thrilled when one hundred bicycles for Bible workers were donated from various sources in the Berrien Springs community. Notably, World Youth Group donated fifty bicycles and Bicycle Mission World donated twenty bicycles.
ABUNDANCE OF HOPE
In addition to the farming curriculum, FARM STEW, with generous support from Days for Girls, a global movement that prepares and distributes sustainable menstrual health solutions to girls who would otherwise miss school during their monthly periods, donated 2,000 feminine hygiene kits with reusable menstrual pads, underwear, and soap. Ortiz explained that these kits are providing items that you simply cannot get in Cuba.
The support from Village Church in Berrien Springs, Stevensville Church, and the surrounding community has been amazing. “I don’t know that we’re going to have space [in the containers] but the Lord will make it [happen]. It’s a good problem,” said Ortiz.
Kathleen Morrissy, Lake Union ASI Communication Director