Cuban Baptists are poised to go to the nations. International Mission Board teams are eager to receive these missionary candidates as Global Missionary Partners. But it’s sometimes difficult for them to get visas, and at times, when they do, they’re finding it hard to renew them.
Prayer is desperately needed as these potential Cuban Global Missionary Partners (CGMP) face obstacles in procuring visas and finding sufficient funding.
Currently, more than 50 potential missionaries in Cuba are preparing to go. These missionaries, backed by the mission boards of theCuban Baptist conventions on the eastern and western sides of the island, are largely sent by funds provided through the Cubans to the Nations project.
Cuban GMPs ready to serve include Saul and Dora. This couple was working with the lost in Colombia. Both the husband and wife are musicians, and they’ve been able to use their musical giftings to compose songs, sharing the Gospel in the musical style of each of the people groups. They’re now back in Cuba awaiting reassignment because of visa issues.
Another Cuban missionary family also worked with unreached groups in Colombia. The husband is a doctor, and he was able to provide medical and Gospel access to several communities. The wife is a musician. She was able to work with the other GMP musicians to share the gospel through music. Currently, they are also back in Cuba waiting to be reassigned because their visas were denied.
There are other candidates ready to be deployed, but they’re awaiting visa approval and fundingto enter their assigned countries.
These missionaries can bring Gospel access to places many Americans have trouble reaching with their U.S. passports. This is largely due to governmental relationships between Cuba and various hard-to-access countries, Roy Cooper, an IMB team leader in Latin America, explained. He and his wife, Dirce, have worked with the Cuban church for more than 20 years.
Ronald and his family are examples of Cuban GMPs who still have valid visas and are impacting lostness in the “circle of silence” in Mexico. That area is believed to be less than 2 percent evangelical. It’s filled with unreached people groups just a few hours south of the American border. In just over one year in this hard-to-reach place, GMPs have seen three baptisms and a church planted.
Hector is another Cuban GMP serving in Uganda. He works with IMB teams there. He evangelizes, disciples and trains young leaders, using sports to connect with refugees in camps there.
Oscar and Yolanda are Cuban GMPs who are using sports, music and other tools to take the gospel to unreached communities in Colombia.
Not only do Cuban passports provide different avenues of access, but shared traumatic experiences uniquely equip Cubans to go to hard places.
“God has just so specially prepared Cubans because of the kind of pressures they’ve had to face in their churches as believers preaching the Gospel,” Cooper explained.
Instability and unrest dominated the political landscape in Cuba. Association with an evangelical church was frowned upon. Even something as simple as getting permission to leave the country to be a missionary seemed out of reach for most Cubans for years.
In the early 1990s, Cuba began to open its borders and religious liberty was more widely accepted. The fear of practicing evangelical Christianity openly abated. And home missions flourished in Cuba.
Around 2014, the Cuban Baptist conventions on both sides of the island reached out to the IMB to help facilitate the training and sending of their candidates to the nations.
Cooper acknowledged that God uses these tragic circumstances Cubans have endured for His glory. Now, these Cuban missionaries “have been prepared to go into hard places and can identify with folks who are hurting and who have gone through challenges,” he said. Things back home in Cuba still aren’t ideal, but “I think that God, in a very special way, has been preparing a missions force to be able to go to these places.”
With international travel being more open, Cubans are understanding the missionary task, and they’re ready to go.
While some Cuban GMPs have been allowed to remain on the field, others are struggling to renew or maintain visas. They need prayer to fulfil their calling to the nations.
Would you pray for Cubans who are eager to go to the nations and partner with IMB teams?
- Pray God will continue to call Cubans to reach the lost around the world.
- Pray He will give leadership, guidance and clarity as they assess and train potential missionary candidates.
- Pray that the right places will be open for them to go, and they will be granted visas to enter these difficult places.
- Pray that God will call many partners who will share in this vision to help send and sustain these GMPs to the nations.
*Some names may have been changed for security purposes.