It has been a part of my life – well – all of my life. When I was young, I was introduced to it through the Catholic church. I went to Catholic school, attended a Catholic church, and by the age of 10, I had been baptized as an infant, had my first communion, as well as my first confession. Interestingly enough, I still remember what I confessed. Sorry Richard, I did not mean to bully you at school. Hopefully you have forgiven me by now.
When I grew older, I was exposed to the Methodist church. Things were a little different there. Our communion still involved wafers, although they looked more like soda crackers, and we drank grape juice from tiny cups. The first time I saw them I thought they were giving out Cuban coffee. We were encouraged to read the Bible more, and we didn’t have confessions with a pastor or priest. Instead, we were told to confess our sins directly to God. There were also no rosaries, and Jesus was not hanging on the cross at the church. There were no saints, and no statues of Mary or anyone else. I would choose to remain a Protestant, and I attend a non-denominational church today.
I come from a Cuban family. Whether I was practicing my faith in a Catholic church, or a Protestant one, it was apparent to any outsider that my family considered faith an integral part of our lives. Living in America, we had the opportunity to practice whatever faith we wanted. And we did. Growing up, I never really thought about that freedom. It was what is was. It was normal. In many cases, I took it for granted. My childhood spanned 18 years, from the late 60’s to the mid 80’s, and during that time, while I was enjoying the freedom to practice my faith, 90 miles away, there was…
From 1959 to the mid 90’s….
Part of the unfortunate result of a Marxist revolution, the Cuban people were forbidden from fully practicing their Christian faith. Fidel Castro was to be their God. As a result, the church went into hiding. Meeting in public was severely limited, and they were not allowed to institute many of the social programs we take for granted in America. A people that were known for their fervent belief in Jesus Christ were told they must now worship another deity – Fidel Castro. Instead of surrendering to the will of God, they would surrender to the will of a Communist Revolution.
A few days ago, I wrote a blog post about Spring Spheres. It was a post centered around a school in Seattle that changed the name of Easter eggs, in an attempt to suppress the Christian meaning of the holiday. At the end of the article I stated that they would be unsuccessful, and that the light of Jesus would always shine through. Well, what better example of the light of Jesus shining through than what is happening in Cuba today.
In the mid 90’s, after the Soviet Union had collapsed and Castro was forced to make changes, the Cuban government lifted the ban on Christian churches. After 40 years of oppressing the church, they would be allowed to freely meet in public. What do you think happened? After 40 years of living under a Marxist, totalitarian system that required total submission to the state, one might think that Christianity was dead, or at least that it would take a long time to bring the people back to Christ. Not according to Pastor Eduardo Otero.
“After the fall of the Communist countries in Europe, we were pastors in the countryside and our churches were empty, ” Otero said. “But after the fall of the Communist countries, one week later, all of our churches were full of people.”
The full article is here:
Jesus Christ was never suppressed in the hearts of the Cuban people. That was the point of my previous post. It is a futile attempt. Jesus will prevail. The Cuban people have always had a resiliency that has astounded the world. Throughout every trial and tribulation, they have always been like the cat you throw up in the air, always landing on their feet.
We have a word for this. It is called resolver. Loosely translated, it means to resolve, or make do. But in reality it has a much deeper meaning. It means to survive, to persevere. As a people, Cubans have a knack for finding a way to create something where nothing exists, at least that is how it seems sometimes. Throw a Cuban in a new country or a new situation, give him nothing but his family values, his wits, and his faith, and come back in a couple of years. He will create miracles.
Of course, in reality, it is not the Cuban people that create miracles. It is Jesus Christ working through them that does it, and He is continuing to do it every day in Cuba. There are plenty of examples of Jesus prevailing through the Cuban people. You may remember the Pedro Pan project that rescued many children from the clutches of Fidel Castro in the 60’s. Today Pastor Eduardo Otero and others are working tireless to save souls. Most of all, we can never forget the Cuban who struggles to feed his family all day, yet still finds the strength to thank God for his blessings as he goes to sleep.
With the help of Jesus Christ, Cuba will find a way to resolver.