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10 Evangelical Pastors and Their Wives Among Those Who Perished in Cuban Plane Crash

The Cuban Council of Churches is reporting that ten evangelical pastors and their wives are among the dead in Friday's plane crash that killed 107 people.

"On that plane were 10 couples of pastors. 20 people. All of the Nazarene Church in the eastern region," said Maite Quesada, a member of the council.

Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica Region Director Carlos Saenz told Nazarene Church News that the couples were returning from a retreat for ministers and their spouses in the Cuba East District.

Leonel Lopez, president of the Cuba Church of the Nazarene, said in an online statement that 125 couple had attended the 3-day event, noting that some of them "testified that they were prepared for the encounter with their God" before leaving for the airport. According to the bus driver who took them to the airport, Lopez said, "they were singing and praying" on the way to the airport.

"There went our blessed and joyful shepherds and wives, who also perished, but we know that they are in heaven with the Lord," he said.

According to Lopez, "Several children, adolescents, and young are left orphans without their fathers and mothers. Some of them have no extended family."

"Pray for their families and their children, for our Eastern district leaders, for us and for what we have to face in the future," he implored. "We count on your prayers and support in this moment of so much sadness and pain."

Nazarene groups around the world extended their condolences to those who lost loved ones in the crash and asked for prayer on their behalf.

"May all the Church of the Nazarene family unite in prayer on behalf of our brothers and sisters," said Saenz.

Nazarene Compassion Ministries tweeted, "Please pray today for those suffering grief and trauma, including our #Nazarene pastor families and congregations impacted by this plane crash."

Jesse Middendorf, general superintendent emeritus of the Church of the Nazarene, tweeted, "Please pray for our precious Nazarene family in Cuba. Some of the very best of who we are."

The cause of the crash has yet to be determined. The aging Boeing 737 went down and burst into flames shortly after takeoff in Havana.