Festival of Faith and Writing roundup
Having graduated, Jessica came to St. Catharines with an agenda before returning to Michigan. In that living room, Rose said, “Jess has something to tell us.”
Samuel Akaakaa is an experienced past-employee of Beacon of Hope, a national development agency in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, begun as a ministry of World Renew. He and wife Marilyn are raising their own young family and have deep hearts for vulnerable children.
Last summer I read The Old Man and the Sea aloud with three of my grandchildren – twins Lucas and Ella, age 12, and Caleb, age 8. Though I thought the book might be a bit of a stretch for young children, it was certainly worth the effort. All three “loved the book,” a response not universal for Hemingway’s work.
I remember my own fear of staying after broken windows, though also feeling apprehensive because our churches failed to understand our place in a city that we’d thought belonged to God. Instead we ran, in part because of deep-seated, unacknowledged racism that is still part of my sub-conscious.
On July 20, Cuba’s flag flew officially in the U.S. for the first time since 1961. Also on that date, the American Embassy opened along Havana’s famous Malecon seaside boulevard with no other nations’ flags blocking the Stars and Stripes, as they had for decades.
In the last year two powerful novels have captivated Canadian readers. Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda and Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle chronicle the complex relationships between Aboriginal and European-based culture.
Many people today are still surprised to hear there are churches in Cuba. They assume churches disappeared after Cuba’s 1959 Revolution. (To review Cuban Christians’ and churches’ lives over the years, see Christian Courier, July 28, 2014.) Oh, we of little faith. Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 16:18 that “the gates of Hades will not overcome [the church]” trumps our collective loss of memory. Cuban churches have been remarkably healthy under a repressive government.
Years of small steps by Cuban and U.S. intermediaries loosened the hard soil of enmity between the two nations. Gradually, travel restrictions for relatives in both nations were lightened and limits on cash remittances to Cuba increased. Recent interventions by other nations kept building the pressure to change. Canada provided a neutral place for secret discussions. Notably, even Pope Francis encouraged irenic relations. Altogether these created an impetus that official spokespersons of both nations could no longer brush off publicly.
Even now, 29 years after my first visit to the island, many people shake their heads in disbelief and say, “I didn’t know churches existed in Cuba. Weren’t they were stamped out after Fidel Castro’s revolution?”
Not only Cuban and North American churches need mutual international and national cooperation to live and witness to Christ; so do pastors and families in that island nation connected by decades of bonds across seas and national barriers. Such is just some of the power of the Gospel.