Cuba’ beautiful and mysterious
The United States’ closest island neighbour is Cuba, that mysterious and enchanting country which Christopher Columbus first set foot on when he discovered the Americas. Columbus is the boast of Cuba for having declared: Estaes la tierra más hermosa que los ojos humanos han visto [‘This is the most beautiful land that human eyes have seen’]. From a spiritual perspective, however, Cuba is even more beautiful and mysterious.
‘The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:8).The irrepressible Holy Spirit continues to extend Christ’s kingdom of grace in Cuba, through the preaching of the gospel by national and visiting pastors.
The largest Reformed Baptist church in the Western hemisphere, Iglesia Bíblica del Señor Jesucristo (IBSJ)in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, has a long-standing ministering relationship with four Cuban pastors in Havana.
Several IBSJ pastors provide pastoral training to Cuban men in theology, ecclesiology, eschatology, preaching and pastoral care. The IBSJ wives also provide the Cuban ladies and young people with teaching on relationships, marriage and child rearing – teaching for which they hunger.
This ministry began many years ago through a kind providence which placed cassette tapes of wonderful expositional preaching from the IBSJ pastors into the hands and hearts of Cuban nationals.
Since that time, two Reformed Baptist house churches in Havana have formed; also, another 150-seat sanctuary in a central Havana location has been constructed. This facility eliminates the need for church members to use costly transportation to travel to their place of worship.
The elders ministering at this new location, along with the two other single elders of the house churches, remain under the care of IBSJ. Their pastoral libraries are gradually being built with solid Puritan and contemporary Reformed works. These Cuban brothers treasure books more than their necessary food.
Their churches, together with other evangelical, Bible-believing churches scattered throughout the country, provide a visible testimony to the kindness of God in Cuba.
Moving toward the centre of Cuba, we find the major city of Santa Clara, where the beautiful Los Pinos Seminary flourishes as it also follows in the path of reformation.
The seminary, founded before the revolution in 1959, has government approval. The Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA) has a continuing relationship with Los Pinos, in which they present several pastors’ conferences annually.
Los Pinos gathers some 100 pastors for these events. From their representative churches, as many as 1000 young people come for youth camps which take place five times a year (if resources are available).
ARBCA also sponsors a ministry with a mature national pastor in the province of Las Tunas on the eastern end of the island. He is a graduate of Los Pinos Seminary and helps to teach fifteen pastors from nearby cities and villages in an even more focused way.
Cuba, like many other nations, needs well-equipped, zealous, sacrificial missionaries. This is paramount for the unreached souls and crying needs of our culturally diverse world.
But Cuba, like many other nations does not need so much the presence of American missionaries. It needs help with pastoral training and support. In many cases, where a people group has already been reached (perhaps insufficiently), they need help with construction of facilities, libraries for pastors, and other tangible resources for church planting. Cuba already has congregationally recognized pastors as gifts to their churches. These pastors have a vision to reach their own people and plant new churches. What they often lack are the resources to do this.
We bless God that the Cuban government issues religious worker visas to foreign pastors. This facilitates the spread of the gospel on this beautiful island. Unlike the more repressive governments found in China, North Korea and the Islamic world, Cuba welcomes Christian religious workers into their country.
We also thank the Lord for our Pentecostal brothers who are a strong force for the gospel in Cuba. Although we differ from them in some key biblical doctrines, we admire them for their zeal and biblical heart in spreading Christian truth from God’s infallible Word.
May the Lord continue to rain blessings upon Cuba, accomplishing his plans there.