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Pearl Partner Spotlight: Cuba

As a kid growing up in the late 1990’s, I idolized my favorite athletes of the day. I cut out their pictures from the newspaper or Sports Illustrated for Kids and hung them on the walls of my bedroom. When I played baseball, I mimicked Derek Jeter’s batting stance. When I shot a basketball, I wanted to hoop like Lebron James. And when I played hockey, I wanted to score like Steve Yzerman. I watched these athletes on TV, studied how they performed, and tried to replicate them in my own life. When I was in elementary school, I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance of running into Steve Yzerman in public – starstruck I approached him and asked for his autograph – and was thrilled when he kindly signed my jersey, which had his name and number on it. When recounting that story now, my mom says with a laugh “you practically floated the rest of the day.”  

It’s a special thing to meet one of your heroes in life. And while I still love sports, my heroes today don’t play baseball, or basketball, or hockey. My heroes today are our Pearl Partners – men and women who courageously choose every day to love God, serve their community, and share the love of Jesus with others – and I was recently lucky enough to meet a few of them in Cuba.  

Gabriel and Leidis

When Forward Edge is assessing a potential new Pearl Partner, the first three things they look for are someone who has “a strong and visible relationship with Jesus, high personal integrity, and an impeccable reputation in his or her own community.” And that list of attributes is exactly how I’d describe two of my heroes: Gabriel and Leidis. From the moment they picked me up at the airport, their love for God was evident in the way they spoke and how they treated others. They are both high-character, deeply trustworthy human beings who have given their lives to serving the children in the Cuba program. 

Being a first-time visitor to Cuba, I spent a great deal of time asking them questions, and they never wavered or hesitated to answer me, help me, encourage me and love me throughout our time together. They taught me valuable tools for ministry, shared their testimonies, asked me questions about my church and my family, and encouraged me in my faith. As a young parent myself, they shared about how they’ve sought to raise their children – both their biological kids and those in the Cuba program – to love others as Jesus first loved us. I admire them greatly and am striving to live out the type of faithfulness, courage and care that they display every day. 

Partnering with Pastors 

During my time in Cuba, I was also able to visit pastors who are doing remarkable work in their communities. These men and women have dedicated their lives to sharing the good news of Jesus with their neighbors, utilizing brilliant and creative outlets. They’ve started a community garden to feed hungry families. They go into communities on Saturday mornings, bringing a meal and fun games for kids, who get to hear the gospel, while experiencing God’s holistic and personal love. And they are seeing folks respond to God’s love in remarkable ways. 

Over the past decades, it’s been incredibly difficult to do ministry in many of these communities. One pastor told me that her mother had studied to be a pastor but was unable to do so because of the struggles of her nation at that time; and yet, decades later, her daughter is now fulfilling that dream, by faithfully pastoring and sharing God’s love in that same community.  

“Follow my example, just like I follow Christ’s” 

In the letter of 1 Corinthians, Paul writes to his friends “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you should do it all for God’s glory… I don’t look out for my own advantage, but I look out for many people so that they can be saved. Follow my example, just like I follow Christ’s.” I came home from Cuba with this passage in mind, filled with a desire to do everything I can for God’s glory, following the example of my Cuban friends, as they follow the example of Jesus. 

I was invigorated with passion to serve God with creativity and care in my own community the way these heroes are in their own communities. This is one of the biggest reasons why I recommend serving on a Forward Edge Mission team: because just as I studied my childhood heroes and tried to imitate them on the basketball court or baseball field, I came home from my trip to Cuba wanting to imitate their faith and love for God. I came home with a deeper passion for prayer, a greater belief in how God is at work, and a transformed perspective on how His love can change us.  

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Transform a Child's Life Through Sponsorship

Miredita (hello), my name is Drilona

  • location

    Kosovo

  • 9 yrs. old

    10-03-2014

Entered the program: September 2023

Drilona lives with her parents and 5 siblings in a small Roma village. Romani people remain among the most marginalized in Kosovo, hindered by the low level of education, high unemployment rates, lack of access to health care and housing, and extreme poverty. The family’s house is small and in very poor condition; the bathroom is dilapidated. They eat one meal a day at home. Drilona’s parents are not employed and live on government assistance which is grossly insufficient.The family had to send two of Drilona's older sisters away to another village because they had neither the space nor the money to care for them at home any longer.

Sponsorship Level What's this?

Three $38 sponsorships are needed to cover the complete holistic care of one child. Cover one, two, or three sponsorships.