It was like being reunited with a long lost twin after being separated at birth. That’s how it seemed when the Alliance of Baptists and La Fraternidad de Iglesias Bautista (the Fraternity) discovered each other more than 20 years ago and realized their experiences had been virtually synchronous. Churches in both countries had been kicked out of their respective conventions over issues of women’s ordination, ecumenism, and social justice work. At the same time the Alliance was being formed, three churches in Cuba had banded together to form the Fraternity of Baptists.

Now, more than 20 years later, the Fraternity has grown from three to 45 churches plus even more missions. The 20-plus partnerships between Alliance and Fraternity Churches have become a model for a new way to approach mission and ministry. In place of the paternalistic and dependency-creating traditional model of mission fields receiving help from mission agencies, the Alliance-Fraternity partnerships are based on mutuality of respect and the desire to build relationships that recognize both possess resources and needs, wealth and poverty. Through relationship building, there is mutual support that, in turn, promotes sustainability. While relatively poor in material goods, the Cuban churches are rich in many other areas, including cultural arts, theological education, and community outreach.

All you have to do is make one trip and you will be able to answer—with great enthusiasm—the question: Why partner with a church in Cuba?