The heat of the airport greeted us as we stepped off the plane in Havana, Cuba. We were soon welcomed by the warm hospitality of Bishop Ricardo Pereira and the people of the Methodist Church of Cuba. Soon after our arrival, we made the three-hour journey by car to Canaan, the Cuban Methodist Camp near Santa Clara. There we joined over 600 missionaries who are planting churches in every corner of the country. Cathy Mejia, Rev. Eric Bryant, Rev. Kevin Burney and I participated in leading the training for these persons who went back to their hometowns to plant new faith communities. Witnessing their lives filled with the power of the Holy Spirit inspired us to believe God’s miracles happening during and after the event.
The arrival of 600 “Shepherd Staff” Cayado del Pastor books shipped by the Kentucky Annual Conference was a sign of God’s mighty work. The organization www.WorldMap.com provided all books free of charge, but they had not been able to send books to Cuba during the last ten years. Therefore, we count it a miracle the books, after being held in the Cuban customs office for several days, moved through customs as quickly as they did. We will cherish the image of hundreds of people coming forward to receive this ministerial tool with tears rolling down their cheeks, clapping, and praising God for this gift. Surely God’s spirit was in that place!
The Caribbean style of worship of the Cuban Methodist Church is
inspiring. There is a lot of dancing and singing as a part of the worship experience. Who could imagine finding conga drums and a salsa rhythm in church? Every part of the worship service was well prepared and done with excellence, no matter the size of the congregation. Our spirits were renewed as we worshiped alongside them.
Kevin admitted being afraid of Cuba when he was growing up. The image he had of the country and its people was Fidel Castro. But now, he has seen Cubans face-to-face and has discovered new sisters and brothers in Christ. God is doing a great work in Cuba. After meeting Bishop Pereira and the Methodist Church leadership, we believe the Methodist Church of Cuba has a great future.
We were all blessed to be able to minister at Cuban worship services. Eric preached at Havana Central church, Kevin in Guanabacoa church, and I preached in the first service at Marianao church where Bishop Ricardo is the senior pastor and later I ministered at El Vedado church.
On behalf of Bishop Ricardo Pereira and his staff members, please receive his deepest gratitude for this Kingdom Investment in the expansion of new congregations in Cuba.
For me and my wife, Cathy, this was our third trip to the land living in the book of Acts.