Leonel López, president for the Church of the Nazarene in Cuba and superintendent of the Cuba West District, shared an update this week following the 18 May plane crash that claimed the lives of more than 100 people, including 10 Nazarene pastor couples.
López was at the airport during the crash, which he initially thought involved a foreign aircraft. It wasn’t until later that he learned the plane in question was the aircraft carrying 10 pastor couples on their way home from a national conference.
Since the crash, López has been staying at the same hotel as the couples' families. He said it's been a somber time and relatives are understandably hurting. When the coroner’s office announces they have identified a victim, "the relatives fall to the ground losing all consciousness from the pain. The rest of the people burst in tears because that means their relatives have not been identified yet."
López shared that the relatives of the couples are "extremely grateful" for the help the global Church of the Nazarene has provided. He spends all day going from room to room at the hotel bringing words of encouragement to the relatives of the deceased. Leaders from other denominations are coming to support the local ministers’ families through prayer.
The Church of the Nazarene in Cuba has been able to assist with transportation for relatives to get to Havana.
“Our churches have been able to provide great support alongside other Cuban denominations as well as churches outside of Cuba,” López told CubaTV. “The authorities at all levels, but especially from both Holgúin and Havana, have been very supportive all along and have stood with us and the relatives [of the victims].”
The tragedy comes at a time of growth for the Church of the Nazarene in Cuba.
At the end of 2017, Cuba had two Nazarene districts (West, East) and more than 100 churches.
A process is underway to find leaders for the congregations now without a pastor. One of the churches appointed a temporary leader until a permanent pastor is named.
Continued prayer is requested for the families of all affected, as well as the churches and national church.