As I concluded my recent first visit to Cuba I was awash in emotion, from despair to hope. Despair because the unemployment rate exceeds 60%, and distressing poverty is evident everywhere you look. And hope because of the model of Christlikeness demonstrated by the humble pastors I visited.
It was apparent to me that these pastors have endured pressures that I know nothing about. Even so, I didn’t hear a single complaint from any one of them. They never spoke poorly of others. They kept their focus on the Lord and on being a reflection of Him. Over many years they have stayed the course and they have never given up.
The commitment of the leadership and their vision for the next generation and their communities deeply impacted me. At a church service—in a simple, unassuming building—the space was unable to accommodate everyone, so the congregants spilled out of the front doors into the street. Their worship and singing permeated the entire neighborhood. The modest setting did not stop the joy of the Lord being expressed to all who could hear—even many blocks away!
Before the preaching began, the entire class of six-year-olds came up front to give a presentation of sharing their faith with others. My jaw dropped as I heard this group of very young children give a clear presentation of the Gospel. They were excited and enthusiastic as they shared their faith. I was astounded by their uninhibited and bold presentation; there was no sign of embarrassment or reluctance in talking about their Lord Jesus. These youngsters were a direct reflection of the adults in the church: unashamed and resolute in their faith.
I went away understanding that we have a lot to learn from our brothers and sisters in Cuba. I love their passion for Jesus and for their country. My visit in Cuba with these new friends has impacted me forever. In their presence I was humbled by their faith and built up by their love. They are intentional to reflect Christ in all that they do, and I pray that I will live in the same way.