October 2011

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.  Psalm 108:1

What a great word for our times!  King David is saying, “Come what may, Lord, my heart is set on you and I will praise you with everything I’ve got, no matter what my circumstances”.  I hope that this verse will encourage you today as much as it encourages me.

This short verse has been chosen by the Buenas Nuevas (Good News) churches in Cuba as the theme for their first island-wide worship conference beginning November 1.  I am humbled and excited to be invited back to Cuba for this event, but there is a wonderful back-story I want to share with you.

Last December my wife Elizabeth and our two boys spent a very meaningful Christmas with our Cuban “family”.  During our visit there, the Cuban pastors told us about their desire to begin an annual conference for the worship leaders and musicians in their churches.  Music is a vital part of Cuban culture and probably the most powerful way to bring non-believers into the churches, so we immediately understood the potential impact.  We began praying with them for God to show us how we could help.

I began to think about the unique connection that exists between the Comunidad Cristiana church in Puebla, Mexico and the Buenas Nuevas churches in Cuba.  In the early 1960’s, about the time I was born, my folks began working in central Mexico.  A few other missionaries who had also worked in Cuba joined with Mom and Dad in Puebla and built the Agricultural Bible Center and as a result, hundreds of young Mexican men and women were prepared for pastoral and community leadership.  But a church was also founded at the school in Puebla, the ‘Comunidad Cristiana’—the same spiritual DNA as the ‘Buenas Nuevas’ churches in Cuba.

Suddenly I had an epiphany!  What if the church/school in Puebla and the churches in Cuba connected?  The pastor of the church in Puebla, Gabriel Borja, is the son of the first national pastors, Enrique and Sue.  Gabriel is a gifted musician and has spent the last 15 years or so leading worship at the church in Puebla.  It wasn’t difficult to see God’s hand here.  Fast forward, on November 1 I’ll be traveling back to Cuba with pastor Gabriel and 4 members of the Puebla church worship team.  What a beautiful reflection of God’s work, weaving and working all things together for his purposes!

Joining us also on this trip are pastors Mike and Faith Beals from California.  This is especially meaningful, as they have joined us on several trips to Cuba in the past.

Please pray with me for…

• Those in Cuba who are traveling to attend the national worship conference

• Gabriel Borja, his team from Puebla, Mexico, and Mike and Faith Beals

• My sister Celeste, her husband, Michael, and daughters, Audra, Rachel & Riley, as they are now visiting the kids and staff at Casa Alegre orphanage in Chiapas, Mexico

Thank you.  Gospel Relief Missions would not be “going” without you!

John Northrup