Cuba (MNN) — Economic reforms in Cuba are well underway, but they don't appear to be having the intended effect.
Raul Castro's regime implemented massive layoffs of hundreds
of thousands of public employees that were meant to be absorbed by Cuba's
almost non-existent private sector. The resulting poverty has given way to
Meanwhile, churches are seeing growth. For years, they pushed the legal limits just
by meeting, and it's still dangerous for students, religious teachers and
leaders, especially in rural areas, to be outspoken Christians.
According to WorldServe Ministries, Christians are
considered counter-revolutionary, meaning they may be unemployable, denied
access to housing, and put under surveillance. The government has also placed
restrictions on the church, thus concealing success and growth by limiting
the size of each church.
Even with these challenges, WorldServe's John Dyck says, "God is sovereign in these things. And as events in Cuba are changing politically
and socio-economically, it opens up opportunities for us to make the Gospel
even more relevant to people there."
Cuba's new spiritual dynamic includes rapid house-church
(casas cultos) growth, evangelistic missions, and relief work and community
development. Dyck goes on to explain, "In
speaking to pastors and leaders, they talk frequently about the fact that
people in the midst of difficult economic times are realizing that they don't
necessarily have a lot of power in their own lives to change things, so they
turn to that spiritual side."
As a result, revival is springing up in Cuba, and many are
coming to Christ. "A few months ago," Dyck says, "there was a series of amazing meetings in Guantanamo: a young lady was called by God to speak to crowds of people, and that spread to
other parts of eastern Cuba, particularly. That's one area of revival. There are other parts where pastors are going
in to plant new churches."
Resourcing this growth is a challenge. "We're
hoping that God will open doors for us to, in the end, send about 100,000 Bibles into Cuba," says Dyck.
He continues, "It
can be very difficult to get a hold of a Bible because there are no Christian
bookstores. So be praying that God works this out so that we can bring in the
Word of God and make it available to people."
A visit last month with Tyndale House publishers and the
head translator of the Spanish Contemporary Language Bible has brought some exciting news. "We had an opportunity to meet with over
800 pastors and leaders in different conferences throughout a week of meetings
and discuss what this Bible could be," says Dyck. "These pastors looked at this as an
opportunity for the Gospel to become something more contemporary for people who
are reading the Scriptures."
In order to get permission to bring in 100,000 Bibles, WorldServe is working through the Bible Commission, which is part of the Council
of Churches in the government branch. The
cooperation has opened many new avenues of opportunity.
Dyck urges prayer over the whole project. There's a lot at stake. "Once the man on the street is able to
read a Bible himself, I really believe that God will use His Word to reach