Cuban Pastors Thrive in Adversity
Despite tremendous challenges, the church in Cuba is flourishing. I was privileged to see this myself as I attended the Second Ministerial Council of the Cuban Union Conference in early 2017 with Jerry and Janet Page of the General Conference (GC) Ministerial Association, Héctor Sánchez from the Inter-American Division Ministerial Association, and Joel Almaguel, president of the North Puerto Rico Conference, under the theme “For a Transformed Ministry.” It was the first gathering of its kind since the reorganization of the union in 1941 and was well attended by more than 500 workers and their spouses under the leadership of the union ministerial secretary, Jesús Abreu.
Pastors in Cuba work in a society that has emphasized atheism and secularism for decades. Due to economic challenges, average monthly salaries are the equivalent of US$25. (A pair of shoes costs US$20!) Pastors have learned for years to work with modest means, trusting God to provide for their needs.
They are champions in strategic evangelism, always looking for new ways to implement Total Member Involvement in their territory. Through miracle after miracle, they are baptizing more than three thousand souls each year through small groups, Bible study courses, informal home churches, coordinated evangelism campaigns, lay-training programs, and active youth and children’s ministries. The church continues to grow against incredible odds!
Their brothers and sisters from the Puerto Rican Union donated bicycles and shoes to all Cuban district pastors, encouraging them with the words of Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news” (ESV). The General Conference Ministerial Association provided an honorarium to all pastoral spouses in recognition of their sacrifice and commitment to God’s work. Nevertheless, the needs are still significant.
“In each crisis the Lord has strengthened the faith of our people and has rewarded our efforts far beyond our expectations,” says Pastor Aldo Joel Pérez, Cuban Union President. “We ask our world membership and leadership to pray for our church in Cuba and for the mission entrusted to us.”
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