Cuba (MNN) — The Cuban government announced they'll be laying off 500,000 government workers next month. Then next year, they'll be laying off another 500,000 people. Cuban President Raul Castro says these layoffs are needed "for the survival of socialism."
Brian Rushton with WorldServe Ministries just returned from Cuba. "Their total workforce is 5.5 million people, so that's 1 million people. 20 percent of the workforce is being laid off. They're just being told 'we don't have work for you. You just got to go find something.'"
That news is devastating because under socialism, the government takes care of you. Rushton says, "The people have not been taught to think, to be business people, because the government has been taking care of them and they all work for the government. So this is a huge, huge thing for the church because they don't know what to do. The church is just up in arms as to how to address these issues with their people."
With one in five people out of work, the church will have a huge task ahead of them. "With those people not having food and not being able to take care of themselves, it's going to be that much more difficult for the church to survive. Right now, the economy in Cuba is so bad that already food is a huge, huge issue for them."
The average person in Cuba makes about $20 month, but they need at least $100. Rushton says the black market supplements that because free market enterprise or being a business person isn't encouraged. "The church today is actually having to look at how they can do business, or help their people do business," but on the black market, which is a normal part of society. Rushton says, "They're having to operate that way just so they can help their families put food and bread on their tables."
World Serve is providing the funding needed to start black market businesses, like a fishing boat. "We would help give that money initially for the first boat, then they would, in turn, help another company get going so the church can continue to grow."
While it may not be approved by the Cuban government, Rushton says, "The one thing the Cuban government knows is that they're in crisis and they're not providing enough food."
This kind of church involvement will actually help the church grow. "The church is actively involved in the community providing work. And where people can find work, they're playing an unbelievable role in people coming to the church because they want to get involved. As they get involved, now we can share the love of Jesus with them, as well."
The biggest need World Serve has is prayer and funding to get the programs started. You can help empower a local Cuban church. Click here to support them.