To watch this announcement instead of reading it, scroll to the YouTube video below.
Covenant Church was started with a specific geographical location in mind. We are committed to our community and long to be a blessing to it as we share the love of Jesus and invite others to join in following him along with us. Beyond our community, Covenant was started as a part of the BIC – what we now call the Be In Christ Church of Canada.
What many of you may not know is that the BIC is a global family of churches in, I think, 23 countries. Our connection with our global family of BIC churches has been very rich in the past. For many years we have participated in education programs in Asia through the SPICE child program. This has since been replaced in Canada by the Nepal Peace Project, an education initiative started by the BIC Church in Nepal and funded through Canadian generosity. Beyond just sending money, Covenant used to support and send youths on mission trips to Nicaragua. There, our students would help BIC churches run VBS programs for kids. As amazing as those trips were and as Covenant’s support of them was, it has now been over eight years since we’ve participated in any kind of “boots on the ground” involvement with our BIC family around the world.
We are at the stage of exploring whether now is the right time to reinitiate a connection with the global BIC church. As we’ve considered this, we have been wrestling with what a global connection should look like. Societally, we have become more aware of the tendency for North Americans to offer our way as a solution to churches in other parts of the world. This has certainly been true in church relations. We also have the benefit of having Brent and Letitia Jefkins among us. Brent and Letitia spent a couple of years in Haiti working alongside church groups from Canada and the US and, in addition to getting some good ideas, they have learned a lot about how North American Christians should not engage globally.
If we are going to reengage globally, it seems wise to do so in a way that pursues mutual encouragement before projects, shared learning instead of presuming we have answers, and reciprocal practical service based on needs and gifting. With this idea in mind, Brent and I reached out to Tim Horne, who is the BIC Canada Global representative for Latin America. He listened to our thoughts about a desire for partnership and was intrigued. Once he talked with the President of the BIC Church in Cuba, he was excited.
Luis Hernandez, President of Los Hermanos en Cristo Cuba, shared that it has long been his dream to have local BIC churches in Cuba partnered with churches around the world. After hearing what Tim had to share about our church, he recommended that we consider getting to know and potentially partnering with the BIC Church in Santa Clara, Cuba.
Santa Clara is the capital city of the province of Villa Clara. It is a landlocked city of a little over 200,000 people almost right in the centre of the island. The church there is pastored by Isbel and Maday, a pastoral couple who hosts the church under a large tarp covering their driveway or in their small living room when the weather is really bad. Santa Clara is a university city and has at least one student in their church who speaks English and could act as a translator. The hope is that we could enter into a relationship with that church where we could enjoy mutual encouragement, shared learning, and practical service opportunities. One possibility is that we could partner with them in building a wall to support a more permanent roof structure over the driveway where the church gathers. I’ve thought that it would be fun to invite some Cuban university students to come to Penetang for a missions trip in February to shovel snow!
Seriously, though, our conversation with Tim has not only gotten both him and Luis excited about the potential of a partnership, but it has also led to Tim talking with other Canadian BIC churches about the idea of entering into partnerships with Cuban congregations. To that end, Tim is planning a fact-finding trip for Canadian church representatives to go with him to Cuba at the end of November to explore this in person. We would like to have one or two people from Covenant as a part of this trip.
At this point, we aren’t committing to a long-term relationship, but we do want to see if this might be something God is leading us into. To help us discern, we are inviting you to consider three things.
I am very excited about the possibility of putting into practice our conviction that we are part of a global church family with much to share with and learn from each other. Thank you for praying about this possibility with me. Thank you in advance for getting me your feedback about it. And thank you for any financial contribution you are led to and able to make towards it.
If you want to find out more about this initiative or be reminded of some of what was included in this, you can visit a website dedicated to this Covenant – Santa Clara Partnership website at https://sites.google.com/covenantchurch.ca/santaclara/home?authuser=0.