EDITOR’S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Less than two weeks ago, I spent three full days in Cuba. It was an intense few days, attending their missions congress, meeting with leaders, and delivering the final message for this significant gathering.
For over a year, God has placed in my heart a deep desire to go to Cuba. I had heard from a few people about the great work of God that was going on there. And after hearing some of the Cuban leaders at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, I knew I wanted to go there soon.
Spiritual awakening is occurring in Cuba now
I believe spiritual awakening is when the Lord’s presence and power comes upon a section, region, or even an entire country, resulting in an unusual number of people coming to Christ, the church growing, and churches being planted exponentially. Historically, there are even times when the culture is affected dramatically.
Let me tell you the story of what God has done and is doing in Cuba today. In 1960, there were 210 Cuban Baptist churches. In 1990, there were 238 churches. There was a growth of 28 churches in 30 years.
THEN GOD came in power, resulting in a supernatural demonstration of His glory through His church. What happened?
From 1990 through 1993, Cuban Baptists planted 28 churches. In three years, they were able to do what had previously taken 30 years.
In 1992, Cuban Baptists implored a Cuban government official for permission to build new churches to accommodate the growing crowds flooding the churches. The government official asked them, “What is it with you Baptists and your buildings? Can’t you pray in your houses?” So, they did. God used this to explode the work of the Gospel across Cuba.
Over the next year, the churches in the Western Convention of Cuba began 237 house churches (and 94 missions), and by the first time the churches in the Eastern Convention reported in 1995, they had 806 house churches.
The final report in 2014 recorded the following facts of what God is doing:
— 1,051 convention recognized churches
— 1,658 mission churches, which are all New Testament churches
— 6,070 house churches or houses of prayer
Today, this is their Reality Report:
— 8,779 total number of churches, a growth from 238 churches in 1990
— 445 ordained pastors lead and care for these 8,779 churches
— 48,974 professions of faith
— 2,239 home missionaries
— Paperwork is being completed now to send missionaries outside of Cuba for the first time in 54 years.
Unquestionably, God is miraculously at work in Cuba. It is one of the greatest works of God in the entire world, joining other nations like China, India, and a few others where the Lord is exploding His Church!
Modern historians note this new living reality since awakening has come to Cuba. Church is not just a part of their life, but church is their life!
Interestingly, I also observed in this awakening an incredible environment of worship. These Christ-followers in Cuba sing their hearts out with all their might, giving glory to God. They also love the Word of God and cherish it as a treasure. Their spirit is sweet, resulting in an engaging countenance.
Yes, they have their own challenges as a result of this God-sized growth, but their challenges are being addressed with a confidence that God is able and will see them through.
You can read more about this spiritual awakening in Kurt Urbanek’s book entitled, “Cuba’s Great Awakening, Church Planting Movement in Cuba.” Dr. Urbanek is the amazing strategy leader for our International Mission Board. His wife Wendy has been instrumental in ministry to the wives of pastors and missionaries in Western Cuba. Roy and Dirce Cooper are the two key missionaries we have on the field in Cuba from our IMB. Roy and Dirce are amazing people.
A distinguishing mark of Cuba’s awakening
For almost three days, these Cuban Baptists were challenged to go to the ends of the earth. This missions congress, held in the region of their Eastern Convention, attracted some participants from the west. In fact, many came from the western part of the country, traveling 18 hours in the back of large trucks in order to attend this gathering.
I was asked to address their missions congress with the final message. I was privileged to extend a public call to these adults to leave their families in Cuba and give their lives, counting the cost, to go to the ends of the earth as missionaries.
After preaching from the Book of Acts through my interpreter, Jason Carlisle, the leader of Hispanic mobilization for our IMB, I extended the call clearly and boldly, laying the charge before them. Miraculously and supernaturally, between 150 and 200 adults responded to this call to go to the ends of the earth. Pastor Rev. Aníbal Hernández Durán, who concluded his tenure as executive director of the missions board at this event, wrote to their churches last week, “We can consider this congress as the great beginning of the world missions awakening of Cuban Christians.”
It was remarkable, and something that had nothing to do with me, but only with God Himself and what He is doing in and through Cuban Baptists. I will never forget this experience!
I am more than aware that I could have preached the same message with the same intensity in our own country, and we would’ve been satisfied if even one person surrendered to go to the nations.
What I do know is: When God shows up, everything changes because God can do more in a moment than I can do in lifetime.
This is why we need the next Great Awakening in America
Since my election as SBC president, I have called us to come together now in clear agreement and visible union in extraordinary prayer for the next Great Awakening and to reach the world for Christ.
Additionally, as I have traveled, I have carried this message endlessly.
Besides articles about this call, I released a free 16-page ebook last fall, giving specific actions we can take now personally and in our churches.
This is why our 2015 Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, Ohio, is so important. We need our Southern Baptist family together now in order to call out to God together like never before for the next spiritual awakening in America and for the world to be reached for Christ.
Here is our reality: While Cuban Baptists travel in the back of large trucks for 18 hours to be together for the Gospel, we think of reasons we cannot and should not make any sacrifice or adjustment of our schedule to be at our own 2015 Southern Baptist Convention.
Some may be saying to themselves, “Ronnie, give me one good reason to come.” There is a simple answer: The spiritual condition of our churches is represented through the sad spiritual state of our nation while the lostness of our nation and around the globe increases exponentially.
This is why we need to come together in Columbus on June 16-17, calling out to God like never before for the next Great Awakening and for the world to be reached for Christ. This is why we are designating the entire Tuesday evening session to a national call for prayer to all Southern Baptists for the Next Great Awakening and to reach the world for Christ.