We may never know why… but on May 18th, 2018 a plane leaving the Jose Marti International airport in Havana, Cuba heading for the airport in Holguin (about 435 miles away) crashed shortly after takeoff due to an explosion in one of its engines. Out of the 105 people on board, to date, only one person has survived the Cubana de Aviacion Boeing 737 plane crash.
Most of us might breathe a prayer for the families of all the victims and move on as we are almost numbed by yet another horrible tragedy that has happened in our world to people we’ve never met.
Yet, on this plane were 20 Nazarene pastor and wives who were returning from a pastor and spouse retreat in Havana to their homes in the Holguin area; reminding us that in all the world wide tragedies, people – just like us – suffer. None of the pastors or spouses survived, and immediately 11 Nazarene pastor’s kids are left orphaned by this deadly crash.
I would sadly dismiss this as just another world tragedy except that I (and our church) knew some of those killed as our church has made two Work & Witness trips to the churches in the Holguin / Camaguey area of Cuba in the last couple of years. So, unlike other world tragedies which I can quickly pray for and dismiss, my heart lingered. I (we) personally know some of those kids who lost their parents. I (we) have shared meals with some of those killed and been in their homes. I (we) grieve as I (we) think of some of the churches who lost their pastoral family, their spiritual leaders.
All the while, I rejoice that one of those pastors who would have indeed been on that plane and killed with the others (Pastor Arcel Adonis Rodríguez Almarales) is here in the U.S. speaking with our church and other churches in the Southern California area.
Wow, how is this possible? Why does God allow stuff like this to happen? I don’t think we will ever have all the answers to all of life’s difficult questions this side of heaven.
But in our hurt, in our inability to understand fully….we acknowledge that God is still God. He’s still in control, and He’s still loving and good in all He does. We realize afresh anew that we live in a fallen world that is filled with death, disease, disappointment, and grief.
So, as I quiet myself, I hear Jesus’ comforting words…. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Not sure what you might be facing, but I am confident that God will never leave or forsake you either.
So, I pray for God’s presence with the families of all those killed in this plane crash, and I pray that somehow, through this terrible tragedy, God would be glorified and that His Kingdom would grow…even, and maybe especially, among the great people of Cuba.