Churches on the Costa Rica North and Central districts pooled their resources to purchase personal hygiene products and clothing for hundreds of refugees from Cuba currently stranded in Costa Rica.
Cuba refugees began making their way to the U.S. through several Central American countries late last year, but in November, Nicaragua closed its border, forcing many Cubans to remain in Costa Rica.
The Costa Rica government has established at least 37 locations where lodging and food is provided. There are approximately 8,000 Cuban refugees in Costa Rica who would like to travel to the U.S.
The Church of the Nazarene began ministering to the refugees shortly after they became stranded. Dhariana Balbuena, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries coordinator for Costa Rica, led a team from San Jose to La Cruz, which is close to the border with Nicaragua. The team worked with children and adults and left much-needed supplies, including 2,800 articles of personal hygiene and clothing for both children and adults.
Upala Centro Church of the Nazarene is located just 400 meters (less than a quarter of a mile) from one of the refugee centers. Pastor Jose Perfect, Rosa, and her daughter Estafania visit them regularly to encourage them, and the church is helping the refugees when it can.
After Costa Rica Ministry Coordinator David Webb visited the church and the multi-use building that houses the refugee center, the Costa Rica North and Central districts sent supplies to the refugees.
"We took some personal items that people had donated," said Rolando Morera, a member of Poas Church of the Nazarene. "We also shared with them the Evangecube. Later, we showed the movie The Power of the Cross and at the end of the movie, there were 12 people who accepted the Lord as their personal Savior. It was a special time of sharing between the local church and the refugees. Four people shared how very happy they felt now that Christ lives in their hearts, and they thanked the church for the time they had spent with them. Now Pastor Perfecto has begun to disciple these new believers."
A group of the men from Cuba — Joaquin, Leonardo, David, and Rodolfo — are attending the local church in Upala, along with a group of women who received the Lord.
This month the Cuban refugees hope to continue their journey toward the U.S. They will leave by plane for El Salvador, where they will take buses to Mexico and on to the U.S.