I’ve done quite a bit of traveling over the course of my life—mostly north of the equator (all over Europe and as far east as Siberia, Russia). It’s a testament to how perfectly God knows our hearts—He definitely knows that I can’t stand the heat! What’s ironic is that my first overseas trip in over 10 years (actually, I officiated a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic about 6 years ago) will be to a far “warmer” place—Cuba. Even more interestingly, I’m going there seeking the fire of God.
This short term mission trip (January 5th to the 15th) is part academic and part outreach. The mornings will be spent attending a Divine Healing class (taught by Ron and Wanda Walborn (dean of Alliance Theological Seminary and director of spiritual formation at Nyack College respectively) with several ATS and Nyack College students as well as many Cuban pastors. I’m actually taking this class as an elective for my Doctorate of Ministry. In the afternoon, some of us will be participating in children’s outreach as well as leading baseball clinics. Yes, baseball. Jeffery Siegel, our contact person for this trip is a friend and fellow doctorate candidate. He is the president of Global Baseball. Alliance Theological Seminary is partnering with Jeff to bring theological training to local pastors in Cuba as well as humanitarian aid for their communities. Baseball will be another one of our point of contact with the locals. I am currently dusting off my cleats and starting my stretching regimen already! With so many in our circles who love baseball (or softball), I foresee this to be a ministry that we can partner in sometime in the future as well. Oh, and I’m also working on all my assignments for this class so prayers would be appreciated.
As some of you may already know, Cuba is currently “in transition”—to say the least. The support that they received from Russia has become nil, while Venezuela (their biggest ally) is no longer able to help them let alone help themselves. And finally, their leader Fidel Castro recently passed away. Cuba is a fascinating nation. With its classical cars and cigars, it’s as if time stopped there. And while the average income of a Cuban is about $30 a month (and they actually need $350 per month to survive), their literacy rate is at an astounding 98%--higher than the US. While all of this have left the country in quite an unstable state, their doors have become more open to the outside world than ever before—especially, to the gospel. This is where we come in.
For me, there is a lot at stake here. The fire that we seek in and for Cuba, is the same fire that I seek for New York City and the US. Everyone is privy to our omnipresent God. But it is the manifest presence of God that we seek. I have long believed that if we are going to make serious inroads with the gospel in an increasingly skeptical world, especially, in the urban context, it is God’s love and fire that will bring the masses to Christ. Unfortunately, the church is not equipped or ready to usher in God’s presence in that way. I want us to be ready.
You can partner with me in a number of ways:
1. Pray with and for me. I long for renewal and revival in my own heart and soul first and foremost. Pray that I go deeper into Jesus than I’ve ever done before. You can also pray for Michelle and Sophia and Emma Jay. They will hold down the fort while I’m gone. Michelle will also be teaching during the latter part of my trip. With that said, please pray for Jayson as well as he’ll be helping out a lot.
2. I’m still raising support for my trip. You can make checks out to “The Sycomore of the C&MA” and send them to:
The Sycomore of the C&MA
c/o Sam Park
36-07 193 St – 1 FL
Flushing, NY 11358
If you want to send it electronically, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get that info to you asap.
3. We are allowed to bring two 50 lb. suitcases with humanitarian aid. Our friends Mike and Joyce Knefley have donated 25 Spanish bibles while Joan and Jisoo of the Upside Down Life Church have donated a bunch of stuff as well.
Along with the stuff on the list below, I’d like to bring something unique—sunflower seeds. Yup, sunflower seeds. I may not be much of a ball player anymore, but I am still one mean sunflower seed eater! It’ll be neat to teach the kids in Cuba a very significant part of American baseball! I’ve done some research and a box containing thirty six .9 oz bags (perfect size) of David’s sunflower seeds costs $15 (Amazon). I’m trying to get sponsors for at least 10 of these boxes specifically. You can buy them directly and send them to me or I can order them for you. Please let me know asap. Here is the list of some other stuff that you’re welcome to sponsor as well. I’ve highlight the ones that they specifically asked for:
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Ibuprofen and aspirin
Underwear and socks for men, women and children
Women's feminine products
Vitamin C and E
Bibles in Spanish
Baseball and Softball. Used gear are perfectly fine!
Aluminum baseball and softball bats (size 32 - 36)
Baseballs and 12 inch softballs
Ping pong paddles and balls
VBS - Arts and Crafts - Ages 6-11 - Approx 40-120 children
Coloring books in Spanish
Crayons and colored pencils, colored markers
Elmer's glue and rounded scissors
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. You’re very welcome to ask me anything about this trip. I’ll do my best to keep everyone updated while I’m still preparing to go. Once there though, it will be very difficult as internet access is nonexistent. Looking forward to partnering with you!