Winds of change are blowing into Cuba

By December 26, 2007

Cuba (MNN) — Cuba's dictator Fidel
Castro says he doesn't intend to cling to his power forever.  That means change is coming soon to the
Communist nation. 

The 81-year-old leader has not made a
public appearance in over a year, when he temporarily ceded his powers to his
younger brother Raul 16 months ago. The
move followed an emergency intestinal surgery. To observers, the greater surprise was that he
did not immediately resume his powers. In fact, he has not said when — or even if — he will permanently step

His thoughts about power and making way
for younger leaders echo pre-surgery speeches.  Castro officially
remains the country's head of government, as president of Cuba's Council of

Initially, he set up Cuba as an atheist
state, but in 1992, the constitution was
changed to call it a "secular" state that guaranteed freedom of

That did not necessarily mean full freedom in actual practice. Freedom of
religious worship was officially recognized ahead of a visit by Pope John Paul II in 1998. In 1999
evangelistic crusades were held for the first time since 1959.

This, in addition to the relaxation of
some of the religious restrictions, sparks hope. Global Advance's David Shibley: "There are operations of many ministries
already in Cuba. We are holding, at Global Advance, a forum, where we are
hosting seven ministries involved in ministry in Cuba, at our headquarters in
Dallas, in January, to look at the potential for a national strategy for the
evangelization of that nation." 

Evangelical Christians, whose numbers are growing rapidly throughout the
country, have already felt the benefits. Yet, Shibley cautions, "Persecution
and security continues to be a problem for the church. But there's something
that the enemies of the Cross of Christ do not understand, and that is, that
persecution and threat only tend to increase the strength of the church in
many nations."

While religious restrictions in Cuba do not
warrant the designation as a "CPC" (Country of Particular Concern), the
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom says the country
remains on the Watch List because of violations of religious freedoms either
tolerated or instigated by the government.

that the church in Cuba will continue to reach out with the news of God's
grace, despite the opposition from the government. Pray that freedom of religion will truly
become a reality in Cuba.


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