The 1959 revolution bringing Fidel Castro to power changed the reputation of Cuba from a party island for wealthy visitors to a thoroughgoing socialist experiment. Being only 90 miles from the Florida coast recent decades for Cuba have been lived in the context of American antagonism. Innovative health and educational provision have been widespread, even including the training of student doctors from other Latin American countries. Many pressures have resulted from trade embargoes and political stances taken.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and has a tropical climate and hilly terrain. It is expected that at least one hurricane a year will hit Cuba and a large amount of damage has been suffered recently.
Migration attempts and restrictions on movements have been a constant issue since 1959, with many families split between Florida and Cuba. Cuba is continuing to live elements of a socialist ideal while engaged with the reality of the need for the hard currency that tourist visitors bring.
A Catholic culture that has had considerable pressure to reform within a socialist framework in recent decades, but the visit of the Pope in January 1998 changed the perception of the church. Substantial Protestant church growth in the last decade has accompanied an opening up of religious issues more generally.
Short term teams have been visiting the island for a number of years, both in Havana and Santiago. We have close relationships with several seminaries, including providing an English teacher. We are involved in substantial leadership training to support the rapidly growing need for church leaders due to substantial church growth and church planting.
A youth work coordinator would be valued to visit summer youth camps and provide pastoral support to camp leaders. Short or longer term lecturers in theology are needed, for a week or more, as well as pastors who can teach expository preaching. English teachers will always find opportunities to share their skills. Given the difficulty of missionary visas in Cuba there is a need for lateral thinking which might involve a period of formal studies in Cuba.