A lot has been said and written about Cuba. Current protests, the death of Fidel Castro in 2016, and the new leadership without his brother Raúl Castro have created endless perspectives about the Cuban Revolution legacy and the sociopolitical situation of this beautiful country. Personally, I have had the privilege of traveling to Cuba on thirteen occasions, of living with many Cubans in different contexts, and of doing research on theological education in Cuba that you can find here. I would like to highlight that in Cuba there has been a spiritual revival for many years where the Holy Spirit has been working powerfully throughout the island. The growth of the church has been such that many denominations cannot cope with the training of leaders and the discipleship of new believers.
The motto that summarizes the passion and longing of Christians in Cuba is “Cuba for Christ.” And while it is true that spiritual revival is always the work of divine grace, the commitment of Christ’s followers in Cuba is so great that God has seen fit to pour out his spiritual blessing among them. Every time I spent a few days in Cuba, I felt that my “spiritual batteries” were charged and I would return home with great enthusiasm to witness the revival and fervor of Christians there.
I would like to share four examples of the Christian commitment of the Cuban brothers and sisters that greatly impacted me. I want you to be encouraged as much as I am and motivated to pray for the church in Cuba. On one occasion we were helping at a Vacation Bible School in Camaguey. There I was able to learn about the sacrifice that a sister had made to serve in that activity. She had to use her vacation week to teach at that VBS. The schedule was heavy since VBS started at 9 in the morning and ended late in the afternoon. In the evening we also had a teacher training which she attended punctually. Talking to her during the week I realized that she had to walk to the church building because she did not have a bicycle or other transportation. She told me that she lived about a hundred streets away and still took that round trip a couple of times a day. She walked 400 streets each day in the scorching July heat in order to teach the Word of God to the children of her church!
On another occasion, a sister from another church begged me to let her take the Bible training course. The problem was, there were only a few books and there weren’t enough for her. I explained to her that unfortunately, it was not going to be possible for her to accompany us in the course because she could not have the textbook. She told me not to worry about it because her desire to learn was so great. I let her attend the class that day and as the days went by I forgot about this matter. How great was my surprise when I returned a few months later to find that this sister had gotten a notebook and hand-copied the entire book! In order to learn more about the Bible, this lady had spent many hours writing every word of the book in her notebook.
My wife Angélica spent some time with a young couple with a small child who had been commissioned by their local church as missionaries in the mountains of the center of the country. The people in the church were very poor but had great missionary fervor and wanted to share the gospel with all people. This couple had accepted the challenge of moving to the mountains and starting a church there. The church did not have money to support them, but each member of the church put aside some of their ration of rice and beans to give to this missionary couple so that they would have at least something to eat while doing their ministry. What was surprising to us was the joy that this couple reflected in being sent out as missionaries even in the midst of these precarious circumstances. The smiles on their faces and the enthusiasm of the church brothers were infectious and encouraging. All trusted in the divine provision and lived and served by faith.
The most impressive worship time I have ever experienced was in a small church in a small town north of Santiago de Cuba. That place was very poor since the sugar factory on which the local economy depended had closed for quite some time. The church building had no windows and its pews were quite old. The only musical instruments were a maraca and a guitar with a couple of strings missing. However, the enthusiasm and sincerity during the worship service were great as I have not had the opportunity to witness it anywhere else. I remember that one of the praise songs said “there is a better house than my house and it is the house that God has been preparing for me. In the house, I rejoice and find peace and how I would like to be there in the presence of God forever. Their hope in Christ was so great that nothing and no one can compare to being with Christ. That Sunday morning, I was able to witness what it means to long for the second coming of Jesus who told us at the end of Scripture, “I am certainly coming shortly” and the brethren in this church were actually saying, “Amen. Yes, come, Lord Jesus.”
Cuba is a beautiful island where the God of the universe has seen fit to pour out his spiritual blessing. The church in Cuba is growing and they are an example for all of us who are followers of Jesus. It has truly been a privilege to witness the work of God in Cuba and I join the fervor of my Cuban brothers and sisters who declare “Cuba for Christ.”
Nota: Puede encontrar la versión en español aquí.