COLFAX, N.C. -- President Barack Obama’s trip to Cuba marks a new era for the relationship between Cuba and the United States.
He is the first U.S President to visit Cuba in nearly a century, but a Piedmont church has been building a relationship with people there for the last several years.
For almost the last five years, Shady Grove Wesleyan Church in Colfax has been working to build a national ministry center in the town of Camajuani.
“It's a large facility that will train pastors that will also house the local church in Camajuani,” Denise Sacks, the church’s chairperson of mission leadership, said.
Stan Sacks, a land surveyor and member of Shady Grove Wesleyan Church, says people in Camajuani had been praying for eight years to get a building permit.
“It’s the first building permit for a new church in Cuba since Castro took over in the 50s,” he said.
Reaching the goal has included a series of mission trips to complete the construction which began in 2013.
Not only have the congregation’s adults participated, but the church’s youth have been involved as well.
However, there are still challenges in making the center a reality.
“In order for that ministry center to be built, there is a $40,000 gap that has to happen, so my prayer has been that our church will step up even more,” Nate Kingsbury, lead pastor at Shady Grove Wesleyan Church, said.
The congregation says more than building an actual facility -- it has built relationships and hopes the recently improved relationship between the two countries will be mutually beneficial.
“God is good and He is doing great work in Cuba,” Denise Sacks said.
Shady Grove Wesleyan Church hopes to have the ministry center completed in the fall of this year.
A dedication ceremony is planned for Oct. 22.
The project is accepting donations here.