At the end of March, a container from Maranatha Volunteers International, filled with food and other essential supplies, arrived in Havana, Cuba. This cargo will be distributed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the country. It will help sustain local families, as well as faculty, staff, and students at the Cuba Adventist Theological Seminary, which Maranatha built in the late 1990s. While only making a small dent in relieving Cubans’ plight, this and four preceding containers are helping keep desperate hope alive.

In recent years, this Caribbean island nation has experienced unfortunate economic challenges. As a result, the Cuban people have struggled from a lack of basic necessities, such as food, water, electricity, fuel, medicine, and personal hygiene products. The few supplies that are available for purchase cost more than even employed citizens can afford.

The safe arrival of Maranatha containers would not be possible without the power of prayer, as the shipping process can be time-consuming and complicated. First, an in-country Maranatha team member purchases supplies in Panama and loads them into a container. Only after the container gains legal pre-approval can it depart by ship for Cuba. Upon arrival, each container will sit unopened until customs officials inspect its contents to ensure quantities are documented accurately. Maranatha containers have overcome labor strikes and political upheaval in Panama, and postponed inspections in Cuba, but have all ultimately reached their destination. Each bag of rice, dose of medicine, and bottle of cooking oil that reaches the hands of someone in need is the direct result of God’s guidance.

Maranatha’s shipment of resources to Cuba would also not be possible without the dedication of generous donors. A Cuba-focused #GivingTuesday campaign in 2022 raised more than $250,000. Maranatha used these funds to send four shipping containers full of food, medicine, and other essential items to distribution points across the island. These resources aided more than 5,000 families, which represent roughly 20,000 individuals. 

Since 1994, Maranatha has been working in Cuba to build and renovate Seventh-day Adventist churches. Despite economic circumstances, which make work in Cuba complicated, Maranatha has been successful in building or remodeling more than 200 churches all over the island, in addition to the seminary in Havana.