During the week of March 20th, I had the privilege of traveling with Carroll to Cuba to teach a course to some very eager master’s students. It was quite the eye-opening experience. I knew Cuba was a very poor and oppressed country, but I was surprised to find the joy and hospitality that everyone seemed to exude. Everyone–the pastor, the ladies who served our meals, the students, and even the people we encountered on the streets–seemed excited for us being there.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”22″ gal_title=”20170510 Cuba Tollison”]When I entered the classroom, I found a group of students that were hungry for theological education like I’ve never seen before. Despite the long hours and labored teaching due to the need of a translator, they were engaged. Not only were they engaged in class, many would go back to their rooms in the evening and read beyond what was required. They would research as much as they could during the week and come back to class asking for more resources. I found a group of students that understood theological education was a necessity for them and their congregations.
Then I heard their stories, and I was shocked even more. Many of them traveled several hours for the opportunity (they really saw it as a privilege) to study. One man had been put in a labor camp because of his faith several years earlier. This man almost made it in the previous cohort but missed it by just a few days. He then waited five additional years to enter this cohort. Oh, and by the way, he is over sixty years old. And that was just one story.
Then I heard stories about their churches, and I was surprised once again. The church that hosted our classes talked about the work they do in their city. They will minister to a couple thousand kids, youth, and special needs kids at city-wide camps they will host this summer. They were also expecting a few thousand people for their Palm Sunday and Easter services. As I pushed this conversation a little further with the pastor, he could not tell me how many he had in his congregation. While they hold a fairly large Sunday morning service, a large part of their congregation meets in house churches that are equipped by the larger church. And all of this is while there are some oppressive stances towards the church.
As I left Cuba, I immediately wanted to go back. I want to invest in these people. I want to serve these people. I want to equip these people. I want to challenge you to two things: first, pray for Cuba. It really is a land of hope. The gospel is going out and the Church is growing rapidly. Pray that God continues to reach the nation in this dramatic fashion. Second, find ways to minister to the Cuban people. With that, what are some creative ways to aid in God’s work in Cuba?
Have you seen this type of outpouring in other places? What have you done to get involved in those places? Wherever it is and whatever it looks like, God wants us to be His hands and feet and spread the hope of the Gospel to all the nations. Go and proclaim the good news and be a part of God’s plan in making the nations a land of hope.