One of the great privileges of the Christian life is the joy of praying for and participating in mission work here and around the world. Our God loves the nations. Followers of Christ can develop a passion and worldview that stretches around the globe. It’s really quite extraordinary when you think about it – a young mother rocking her newborn to sleep while praying for a missionary in China, a factory worker planning for his next mission trip to paint an orphanage in Mexico, a doctor preparing his next lecture for a pastor’s training conference in Romania. Our Father has business all around the globe and He’s delighted to take His children along for the adventure.
Recently, I had the privilege – along with Pastor Newton Pena, a third year student at Faith Bible Seminary, and Pastor Oscar Arocha, the senior pastor of Iglesia Bautista de la Gracia in Santiago, Dominican Republic – to travel to Cuba to teach a series of classes to 70 pastors and church leaders who had gathered at a remote seminary 5 hours from Havana.
Cuba is a land that has been decimated by fifty years of communism. Every country has pockets of poverty – but in Cuba it is the norm. The average pastor we taught earns $20 per month. No one came to the training conference by car because they can’t afford them. They have been cut off from the outside world and have little access to the biblical and theological training that is so foundational to the effective accomplishment of the ministries the Lord has given them.
However, where the effects of sin abound – grace does much more abound (Romans 5:20). The pastors we had the privilege of serving are part of a network of churches seeking to glorify God and proclaim the gospel in a needy part of God’s harvest field. Their faithfulness and joyful enthusiasm for ministry is a testament to how “little is much, when God is in it.”
Our friends in the Dominican Republic and Cuba have asked us to partner with them as they seek to advance the cause of Christ. We consider it a privilege to do so and have developed a three-fold strategy as a church family.
While our Cuban brothers and sisters did not ask for any material assistance, it is impossible to see such extreme poverty and not be moved to action, and so we have purchased clothes, shoes, eye glasses and other basic essentials for forty pastors and their families. Because four Cuban leaders are coming to our Biblical Counseling Training Conference in February, we will be able to send eight large suitcases back with them. Our prayer is that these gifts will bless their families and communicate our love in a tangible way.
We have accepted the invitation to begin sending teams of teachers from our seminary and our partner congregation in the Dominican Republic to Cuba on a regular basis. Our Cuban brothers and sisters are hungry for sound theology and practical biblical application. They wish to become more effective in proclaiming the gospel and also helping each follower of Christ to grow in applying Scripture to everyday life situations. Principles of biblical counseling and community based outreach ministry are right in the very sweet spot of what is needed in their churches at this strategic time in Cuban history.
The internet is just becoming available in Cuba on a limited basis. Most pastors do not have computers or other forms of technology yet. However, American churches making strategic technology investments could have a profound effect on the educational foundation for many Cuban pastors.
We have the privilege of sending 8 laptop computers back with our Cuban friends in February. These machines are state of the art with sizeable storage capability and rugged casing. Powerful Bible study software is also being provided along with over 400 books. These computers will be distributed to the seminary professors and leading pastors to aid them in their study of Scripture. While these gifts only cost us a few thousand dollars, they have the capability of transforming these pastors’ research capabilities.
We are also sending 8 Kindle Readers loaded with over 300 books and resources. These will be given to other pastors which will multiply their present libraries and be a tremendous blessing to their ministries. We hope to continue carrying more Kindles in and distributing them to other pastors on subsequent ministry trips.
An Unprecedented Opportunity
Our God has the ability to bring beauty out of ashes. Yes, communism has decimated Cuba. But the gospel is alive and well, and our Redeemer God is building Christ’s church as a testament to His love, grace, and power. Thank you for generously giving to support our Cuba outreach and please continue to pray as we partner with our brothers and sisters there.