As Cuba and its Christian community continue to process the shock of the plane crash near La Haban last Friday, where 111 people lost their lives, one of the main priorities for the Church is determining what happens to the children who’ve been orphaned by the tragedy.
Pastor Bill Devlin of Infinity Bible Church in New York, who is also the president of REDEEM and co-chair of Right to Worship NYC, told The Christian Post in a phone interview from Cuba on Wednesday that 10 children have lost both their parents from the Church of the Nazarene.
Devlin, who said he flew to Cuba to “represent the American church” and show the Church of the Nazarene that it’s not forgotten, told CP that the children are all between the ages of 8 and 17.
He noted that there are “daily meetings and discussions” going on about them, with the church looking to figure out “what families are going to take care of them,” whether it be other pastors, or family members.
He explained that the 10 couples from the church, who died when the Boeing passenger jet crashed shortly after takeoff from Havana on its way to Holguin, were attending a general conference on marriage in the capital.
Devlin noted that the church ordains both women and men as pastors, and in many cases, for instance, where the husband served as pastor, the wife would have a role as a secretary or treasurer, and vice versa.
The Church of the Nazarene released the names of the 10 couples who died on Cubana Flight 972, which included Cuba East District’s Nazarene Missions International president, secretary, and treasurer.
“In this moment of anguish and pain, we ask for your prayers and help to be able to get through this situation together,” said Leonel López, national president for the church in Cuba.
Devlin said that he previously worked with two of the couples who died, Pastor Ronni Alain Pupo Pupo and Yurisel Milagros Miranda Mulet, NMI president, and Pastor Gelover Martín Pérez Avalo and Yoneisi Cordovez Rodríguez, district treasurer.
He noted that in late November 2017, REDEEM held a University Student Christian Conference at the Church of the Nazarene in Holguin, which was attended by over 250 people.
“We will deeply miss our sisters and brothers — we shall see them again at the Table of Jesus Christ when we all gather together,” he said.
Devlin, accompanied by Pastor Luis Batista, general secretary of the Eastern District of the Church of the Nazarene, attended several funerals of the deceased this week, where he presented a gift of $5,000 to be used to support the church in its time of grief.
He shared that he met with government officials from the Cuban Communist Party, revealing that they have been very supportive.
“The government is helping pay for funeral expenses,” he said, adding that it has also transported the remains of the pastors and their spouses to Holguin, taking up the costs of the cremation and the transportation.
“They have been very helpful in this whole situation,” he said, noting that the Church of the Nazarene has a “very good relationship” with the government.
Devlin, who has been traveling every three months to Cuba since 2007, working with evangelical pastors, holding youth conferences, training preachers and assisting people in need in the country, said that he has “never seen any restrictions on the practice of Christianity.”
He noted that in the eastern district, there are about 72 Church of the Nazarene churches, each with about 50 to 100 people. With the loss of the 10 pastors and their spouses, that is “going to [create] a real leadership gap,” he said.
“Our brothers and sisters are hurting,” he conveyed, adding that he felt the need to personally go to Cuba and offer his condolences and his assistance.
“We want to support you, not just through prayers and thoughts,” he said of his message to the church, sharing his desire to find hope for the 10 children who’ve lost both of their parents.
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Source: Christian Post