The youth are the future of the church. This is something that I have heard many times since my arrival in Cuba. One Sunday, after the service, the youth gathered for a meeting similar to Bible study. During this gathering several things were discussed, including this about us being the future of the church. One person responded that she does not like when people say that we are the future. In reality, we are the present of the church. Why wait until the future to act when we can have an active role in the present. (I will discus how we are presently playing a role later in this post but I want to talk more about what was covered during this meeting.)
What is the hardest thing about being a young adult [in Cuba]? This is a question that was followed by a pensive silence. Living up to expectations was the first response given. In other words, accomplishing what every teenager and young adult craves -- independence. In a society where working professionals (dentists, lawyers, engineers) earn about $20 a month, it is nearly impossible for a college graduate to live in a house by himself or herself (basic house costing about $30,000). With a cell phone bill of the bare minimum of $5 a month, cost of water, electricity, and food, it is hard to imagine how people are able to survive on their own. Because of this, it is not uncommon to see three generations living under the same roof, with all of them working to support each other. In Cuba privacy and independence are things that are almost as foreign as an American missionary.
In one of my many conversations about American culture, the topic of college graduates living at home with their parents somehow came up. “If you are in your late twenties and still living with your parents there is something wrong,” I said. In Cuba this is the reality. The only way that you will find yourself living away from your parents is if you get married and your spouse has a house or apartment that they inherited or somehow acquired. The dream of young adults here is to get married, have children, and live a life of their own -- independence.
Young adults have an important role in the church here: presence. When a large majority of the congregation is made up of 70 year olds or older, the biggest fear is that soon there will be a need for new members (if you get my drift.) One method to attract people on a Sunday morning is music. The church in Cardenas has a music group that consists of a drum set, bass, guitar, piano, bongos, congas, and four singers. It is also important to note that two of the people in this music group are the daughters of my host Aurelio. This hints to the involvement that family has in everyday life here. Music brings life to the church, and the people behind this music are all young adults. This is a perfect example of how we are not the future of the church -- we are the present.
One thing I have heard is that congregations here are very fragile. On one hand there is an appearance of prosperity. Hosting foreign groups in churches geta a lot of attention in the larger community, which helps the congregation grow. Attention is good. The problem comes when those visiting groups stop coming, when it is not uncommon to see attendance decrease by half.
What more would you all like to hear from me? Leave me a comment down below and let me know. More food? More inventions? An article on Santeria?
This post is sponsored by Lynn Roach (my extremely patient high school history teacher), Sally Farrell, Sandra and Richard Tombaugh. Thank you all for your support.