¡A Cuba voy!


#1

After much preparation, my team is off to Ciego de Ávila, Cuba, 21-28 April. I’ve been working hard on my Spanish, which will do me almost no good communicating with Cubans, but oh well. It’s like a Spanish speaker studying English then taking a trip to south Louisiana. :joy: That’s okay, though. Most of the time we are there we have wonderful translators.

I just love the Cuban people. This will be my third trip and I’ve developed meaningful friendships with several folks down there.

Of course, it is also quite humbling to visit. It is not the deepest poverty I’ve seen (in contrast to the slums in India, for example), but it is the widest. In other words, there is almost no middle class. In India there was outstanding poverty, but also wealthy people in the same cities. In Cuba, all are poor (unless you’re in the mafia or government).

Visiting Cuba resets my wants vs. needs calculator, and exposes my desire for riches that ultimately do not matter. There in Cuba, they have nothing but the Lord and each other, and the Lord uses that to reset my priorities. For that I am thankful, even though it hurts.

Please pray for my trip, specifically for our safety ( travel, and there was a government change just this week) and that the Lord would use our team to bless the Cuban people in many ways.

See y’all week after next, and thanks for keeping an eye on the forum!


#2

Hi Ben I just heard Cuba has elected a new president Miguel Diaz-Canel perhaps now the Cuban people will see a change in their standard of living.

I visited Tijuana Mexico back in the 1980’s and I was shocked at what I witnessed. Once you move off the tourist main street it too has acute poverty.

You and your traveling companions with be in my prayers.


#3

“Elect” is what some may call it, I suppose :wink:


#4

Ok. I get the picture. Same old same old.


#5

Bon voyage! (how’s that for some Spanish!)

Seriously… praying for safe travels and great impact. A blessing from Rom 15:13 seems appropriate, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Also, some lyrics from a song I was digging earlier today come to mind: “If the wind goes where You send it, so will I.”

Catch you on the flip side.


#6

Prayers to you and your team. Just out of curiosity, do you mostly street witness, or hold church services or something else? I much admire that God has put this burden, (if that is the correct term), on your heart.

One more thing, if you haven’t had Cuban coffee, (made in the really small pots), it’s the best in the world.

GB.


#7

I go for the Cuban coffee and lechon asado, I stay for the Great Commission :wink:

I do a lot of preaching and teaching to the pastors and missionaries down there, also a lot of door to door evangelism with local church members in the villages who have been witnessing to these folks. I do some music, too, and we have 3 ladies going that hold a women’s conference throughout the week for a couple hundred Cuban ladies. It’s a great trip.


#8

WOW! That’s incredible. How does door to door go down there? I did it once with a Calvary Chapel church I used to go to and would almost always get politely brushed off.

But, when you consider what Jesus and Paul and the Apostles and countless others endured, it pretty pathetic what kind of spiritual weinees most of us Christians are today.

That’s why I admire what you and your team are doing so much. Hats off to you brother.


#9

People are much more hospitable. Out of 50 homes approached, maybe 3-5 do not invite me inside. They value conversation and relationships. It is refreshing.


#10

Maybe better questions for religion and politics section… But this last point about hospitality is really interesting. Might the authoritarian rule have fomented a stronger bond between and amongst family? Might it also have (mistakenly) promoted religion?

My instinct is that with authoritarianism and no accumulation of wealth available outside of government, God and family are all the people have to embrace, or rather, they focus more intensely on these things, compared to western people living in freedom.

If my instinct is correct, it would seem unusual for authoritarians to allow it, particularly religion.

Ben, is there any danger in trying to evangelize? Not physical, but administrative or legal danger?

Beyond all the questions - my family and I will be praying for a successful trip on all counts.


#11

Yes, precisely. When you have no material riches, the things that truly matter become more important. Christianity has always flourished under persecution, which is why I believe we’ve seen a decline in true spirituality in America. We are the Rich Young Ruler. Further, we are comfortable in our religion, and Jesus is the carpenter boy from our hometown in many ways (Luke 4:24).

Authoritarians have tried to control and squash Christianity for 2,000 years, but again, it only thrives when pressured. This is 1 Peter 4 in a nutshell, and really the whole letter.

Yes, it is against the law to openly proselytize. The government keeps tabs of where we are each day, as they have our itinerary and room numbers, etc. The hotels we stay at are bugged so we’re careful what we say. We only go to places that our local guides take us to, and rarely ever do impromptu visits. If you happen to knock on the door of a government man who is in a bad mood, it wouldn’t be the best.

Thank you for your prayers!


#12

Wow - those travel arrangements sound intense!

And… just as I read your reply, I see this flash in my feed: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article209279189.html#fmp

Trying to ferret out the real implications of this… My conclusions (perhaps premature) are: As government control increases, religion decreases. Beginning with a sort of replacement and culminating in outright banning (Cuba).


#13

I see what you’re saying. But we need to define “religion.” Yes, organized, visible religiosity may decrease as it’s banned, but the government can’t do anything to the gospel itself. Right now there are unrivaled outbreaks of conversions in the most heavily persecuted places in the world, such as China and Iran.

I’m for small government, but not because I’m afraid of what a large government will do the gospel, if that makes sense.


#14

Well, I’m back, and even though I was roughed up by the ministry of the interior one day, I’m alive and well! Thank y’all for praying for me. The Lord allowed me to see many things he was doing along the way. A few highlights:

  • I took a bunch of Elixir light gauge acoustic strings down that I wasn’t using. Turns out the pastor I was paired with runs a music school that meets each Saturday and strings are near impossible to find, much less afford. And, they had to have lights because of the structure of many guitars. Keep in mind that a set of Elixirs here in the US cost more than a month’s wage in Cuba…for a doctor.

  • I was blessed to preach and share with folks quite a bit and the Spanish prep really paid off. By the end of the week, I could translate most of what was said to me, but I have a much harder time translating English back into Spanish. But I was able to talk them into roasting me a pig on the final day, so my Spanish was good enough!

  • Our team was extremely unified in the Lord. We had prepared very much, especially theologically, and the Lord used that. There were 34 professions of faith during the week and the local church there continues to follow up and disciple those whom we shared with. Our prayer is that there is a real change and new life there.

  • I’ve been having extreme pain in my right ankle as I prepare for complete reconstructive surgery 10May. I was worried about this trip that involved a lot of walking. I logged over 30 miles last week and didn’t have a single pain, not a one! The day after I got home to Tennessee, I started hobbling again.

  • There’s an opportunity to take guitars and musical supplies down next year. I’ll be praying that the Lord use me in that way. If you would like to help, let me know. Thanks!


#15

I felt compelled to explain my “like” I posted the other day. The “like” was for everything except your ankle. I would be happy to help on your next visit there in some way. Welcome back!


#16

Any chance someone would use a Bundy flute probably from the 70’s. Warning: It smells like you would expect an old woodwind to smell.

If it could be used, I’ll try to clean it up some and will send it to you. Think I got one or two sets of strings too.


#17

Yep, got one set of Martin acoustic lights too.


#18

Thanks! I’ll reach out to you as the time approaches. We don’t even have a return trip planned yet…I’ll keep you posted, thanks!


#19

Let me know when the plans start coming together!

Alright!!!