When Osvier Acosta Ferrero, 72, and Ricardo Tadeo Soria
Perez, 58, pedal down dirt roads on their bicycles, they’re not out for
exercise. They’re praying for Cubans who need Christ.
These Baptist men sing hymns as they cycle for miles,
traveling to rural communities to lead Bible studies. “If someday God sends us
to another country, we’ll go,” Osvier says.
“We have the joy of evangelization, always asking God for
wisdom, a love for people and the joy of proclaiming His Word.”
Their zeal is typical among Christians in Cuba who are
seeing one of the most rapid rates of church growth in the world.
How vast is that growth? Cuban Baptist churches numbered 210
in 1960. Over the next 30 years, that total increased to just 238. In the
1990s, a church-planting movement began sweeping the island nation; today,
there aren’t enough churches to hold all the believers.
The number of Cuban Baptist traditional churches, missions
and house churches exceeds 6,200. Some 5,600 of these congregations worship in
houses, garages, yards or on rooftops.
This remarkable growth has created a huge need for more
church leaders. To help meet that need, a team of International Mission Board
(IMB) missionaries travels periodically to the island to help Cuban Baptists
Gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative
Program support this ministry.
“This is God’s time for Cuba,” one of the IMB missionaries
says. “Pray God will raise up church leaders for the harvest. Pray a sufficient
number of leaders will be trained.”
North Carolina Baptist Men are involved with Cuban Baptists,
building a retirement facility for pastors or their widows who have nowhere to
go when their active ministry is finished because they could never participate
in the government work and retirement program.
An estimated one of every five people in Cuba is involved in
music in some way.
When the Holy Spirit sparked the church-planting movement in
Cuba, many musicians began accepting Christ. In response, Cuban Baptists and
IMB missionaries developed several schools to teach musicians to grow as
disciples and to use their skills in leading worship. Today, there are more
than 50 of these schools. They train about 1,000 Cuban Baptists each year. Some
of these musicians even organize music mission trips across Cuba.
The schools also spurred a renewal of corporate worship,
which God is using to draw more people to Christ.
A special addition to that worship is the first Cuban
Baptist hymnal — Alabanza Cubana — published in 2005 with the help of several
God also is at work among professional musicians. Many are
committing their lives to Christ and, in turn, finding creative ways to share
their faith with colleagues.
“It’s incredible what God is doing,” says an IMB missionary
working with musicians.
“There’s no telling where He’s going to go with all of
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supplements
Cooperative Program giving to support more than 5,000 Southern Baptist
missionaries as they share the gospel overseas. This year’s offering goal is
$175 million. The focus is on celebrating what God has done in recent years, praising
Him for allowing Southern Baptists to be a part of His work, while emphasizing
that reaching those who remain untouched by the gospel is a doable task, but
these will be the hardest people groups to reach — requiring that believers
pray, go, partner and give as never before. To find resources to promote the offering in your church, go