Am I My Brothers Keeper?

Minute for Mission on Cuba – Am I my brother’s keeper?

Am I my brother’s keeper? Am I my sister’s keeper? It’s an odd quote because when you expand the Biblical passage, it’s Cain smart mouthing God after he’s killed his brother Abel. God had asked Cain – Where is your brother Abel? Not only wasn’t Cain his brother’s keeper, he was his murderer. I think God’s response to Am I my brother’s keeper? would have been – Well yeah.

Time has shifted the passage’s meaning. Now it is used expecting a – well yeah – answer. Of course, I am my sister/brother’s keeper. Let me pose a question, how far do we extend these filial relationships? In our church’s mission, we work locally and globally trying to be the Good Samaritan. Locally we collect food for the Food Pantry. We collect clothes for the homeless and Maureen’s Haven. We adopted a family at Christmas. We nurture children in Vacation Bible School.

Globally let’s look at the mission some of us have worked with for nearly 25 years and this church almost 10. There are easy reasons when it comes to Cuba why we could pass by on the other side – like so many did of the wounded man on the road. We could be like the priest who didn’t want to become involved with the consequence becoming ritually unclean. Up until Obama partially opened relations with Cuba, some viewed our work as treasonous. Or we could be Presbyterians and search our conscience and vote on it.

First Presbyterian Church is in a relationship with a Presbyterian Church in Cuba. We are in a partnership with a church in Güines, a small backwater city south of Havana. A place that will never be a destination hot-spot. Nevertheless – you always know something’s coming when you here nevertheless – this is where we’ve been called to serve. This is where many of us have left a part of our heart.

Reality is, the churches in Cuba cannot thrive without our help. I’d begun to say survive without our help but that’s not true. The churches in Cuba survived for more than 20 years under an atheistic, Marxist nightmare. They could scratch along without us but they wouldn’t thrive or be able to offer clean water to 900 families every week. They wouldn’t be able to provide Sunday school materials for the children who flock to the church. They would not be able to offer assistance to hungry senior citizens. There would be no medicine to save someone’s life. Here it comes again, nevertheless they aren’t able to repair their leaking roof. It’s the original of the hundred-year old building. The roof construction is red terracotta tiles that link into each other. The problem isn’t so much the tiles, it’s the wood that supports the tiles. There are rot spots that become like faucets during rain storms. Rivers of water cascade down and pool on the floor of the sanctuary. I don’t want to think about it coming crashing down, it hasn’t reached that critical point yet – I hope.

Next Sunday, a collection will be taken for our sister church’s roof project. I hope you will contribute to this fund. Your mission team will be leaving for Cuba on April 9 and taking the funds so you have a couple of weeks to think about whether you’ll walk on the other side or stop and lend a hand.

Thank you, Amen

Barbara D’Andrea, Mission Committee