EDITOR’S NOTE: IMB President Tom Elliff, who visited Cuba in December, will share stories and videos of God’s work in Cuba during IMB’s report to SBC messengers Tuesday morning. At commissionstories.com/cuba, June 8-10, a three-part series will feature stories, photos and videos of Cuba’s church-planting movement, including a video honoring the memory of a “walking evangelist” who made 2,640 home visits all on foot to share the Gospel in Cuba in 2007 and an article on Jeannie Elliff’s perspectives after visiting Baptists in Cuba with her husband.
HAVANA, Cuba. (BP) — It was an apology like no other we have ever received. The four men seated at the table with my wife Jeannie and me felt a need to explain, and we were straining to listen to their story.
“We have only planted 20 churches,” one man spoke for them all. “But you must understand,” he continued in an apologetic tone, “we have a transportation problem. Only one truck comes into our community around 11 each evening and one leaves at 5 each morning. Other than that we rarely have transportation, so we could only plant churches where we could walk.”
Only 20 churches! Planted on foot! Welcome to Cuba, home of one of the most remarkable chapters of God’s story anywhere on earth during the past few decades. Adult believers can recall the day when fewer than 600 churches were scattered throughout the island nation. Now, nearly 7,000 churches are tucked away in homes across the country — and that’s in addition to more than 970 traditional churches. There’s little doubt Cuban Baptists have been busy finding their place in God’s story, joining a global chorus of Christ-followers in one sacred effort to advance the Gospel among the nations.
Even the occasional skeptic is staggered by the growth of Christianity and Baptist churches in Cuba. And they are even more amazed at the depth of biblical understanding, sacrifice and commitment expressed on a daily basis by Cuban Baptists who often stand and quote from memory the pastor’s Scripture text during weekly services. Most of these believers were ardently discipled for at least a year before being baptized, reflecting a determined effort on the part of Cuban Baptists to make genuine disciples.
Jeannie and I have been changed forever by our encounter with Cuban Baptists and with Southern Baptists who have labored long and prayed hard for just such an awakening. May God’s big work in this small, amazing country inspire you to seek your place in His story.
Tom Elliff is president of the International Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).