Revolution in 1959 introduced Socialism to Cuba. Its economy faltered, people struggled, churches were closed and pastors imprisoned. There was a time “it looked like everything was over,” says Hermes Soto, rector of the Baptist Seminary in Havana. In 1965, the majority of the pastors were imprisoned and a large number of seminary students and young church leaders put in re-education camps. Soto, too, spent five years in a labour camp. Despite the crisis, the churches remained open under lay leadership. Then, in 1991, the Cuban Constitution was changed, but the government was still reticent to allow construction of new church buildings.
Officials said, “Open your homes.”“But then the churches woke up,” Soto says. From 1960 to 1990, Cuban Baptists started 28 churches. The next 28 came in only 3 years. After 1993, the number exploded in a church-planting movement seen in few other parts in the world. Today, an estimated 900 Baptist churches and 6,500-plus missions and house churches can be found across the island. And Cuban Baptists are now sending
Says Baptist International Mission Board President Tom Elliff, The thing that astonished me is how much they have to teach us, not how much we have to teach them. We can benefit from the example of their undying faith … the strength of their faith,” Elliff continues, “They can benefit from our resources … our years of history in missions. Together, we could be a powerful influence for Christ throughout the entire world.”
BIBLE STUDY: 1 Peter 1:6-7
PRAISE: God for the strength given the Cuban Church. Pray for His glory on the Island State.