Thu 19 Jan 2012
Hope for the Cubans
January 5th – 11th, 2012
Dear mission partners and friends,
A new year of blessing has arrived. The 21st century is described by amazing shifts that are taking place in our generation. What an amazing honor it is to be alive and serve God’s purpose in this generation. Edgar Garza and I had the opportunity to witness to a country that has been close to the Gospel for many years due to the political situation. The gospel of God’s Kingdom has been preached in the entire world as a witness (Matthew 24:14). With a humble heart, we want to thank God for the opportunity that he gave to us to refresh and bring hope to many churches in Cuba. God gave us favor and resources to impact and bring the message to renew their hope.
Cuba is an island that Christopher Columbus stated that this was the most beautiful land he had ever seen. In Cuba, everything is different from the rest of the world. It happened that ten years ago Rev. Robert Brown from Chaplains for Christ had obtained a religious visa to minister to the people of Cuba. He held seminars to inspire and motivate volunteer from churches to setup a prison ministry among the Cuban believers. At that time, access to the prisons for ministry was not allowed but due to a certain number of political events that took place and this facilitated more freedom to the Cubans. Pastor Alexander Santiesteban Fernandez attended the seminar ten years ago was very inspired and moved to take action and so he established Capillanes por Cristo in Cuba and he became the national president of the organization. Jacinto Jane, who resides in Miami, FL., used to pastor a few churches in Cuba for many years and had a lot of contacts in Cuba. He joined us in our mission to Cuba. We departed from Miami and after a very short flight we arrived to Habana (the capital of Cuba). The way we were welcomed into the country amazed us considering the communistic government. They did not search us or our bags and received us with smiles.
We departed to the city of Cotorro and even though we were very tired, we were invited to the church service at Iglesia de Dios de la Profecia that night, pastored by Moices E. Hernandez. Then we stayed at Brother Fermin Landana’s house overnight. Brother Edgar Garza shared his testimony about how God saved his life and how he keeps his fire alive that the Lord will save others by his testimony and sermons. I shared what God put in my heart to encounter God’s presence which will make a difference in the life of people. We were impressed with the love, passion for God and joy of the Lord that the people expressed.
After we rested in this town, we headed toward Camaguey city early in the morning. On our way to Camaguey we stopped at Ciego de Avila city and helped some people with needs. We arrived in Camaguey in the evening. Pastor Mariano from Iglesia El Paraiso (Paradise Church) welcomed us from his church home. We greeted that church and prayed that night with them. In the morning, we headed towards Holguin city. On our way to Holguin, we stopped at a town named La Manteca (the lard) where Pastor Jacinto Jane was a church pastor for eight years. We had the opportunity to stop at the local church to help them by giving them goods and money. La Manteca mainly consists of farmers. In the afternoon, we arrived at Holguin where we attended Iglesia El Buen Pastor which is pastored by Samuel Rebuyfero. At night, even though they were celebrating Christmas according to the tradition, the pastor allowed all three of us to greet the church. He treated us with dinner before the church service. There, we met Pastor Alexander and part of his Chaplains team of about twenty five volunteers. In the Chaplain office, the volunteers for prison ministry gave an amazing testimony of how the Lord opened the prisons for the Gospel and how every church participated in the Chaplaincy ministry. Some of the testimonies that were presented were:
A sister with a plastic leg claimed that even though she doesn’t have one of her real legs, she has both of her spiritual legs to serve the Lord as a volunteer in prisons by bringing the Gospel to the inmates. Another sister who was about seventy-two years old had a stroke and the doctors claimed that she would be unable to walk for long distances but she promised to the Lord that if she would get well, she would serve the Lord with all her heart. The Lord healed her and now she is dynamically involved in prison ministry. The Lord softened another sister’s heart who used to be one of the toughest prison guards in the Cuban prison system. Now she is born again with the fire and desire to transform other people’s lives.
One brother who gradually lost his sight became very depressed and was on the verge of committing suicide because he saw no purpose with his life. The Lord brought him through a series of events to know Him personally and get involved in prison ministry together with his wife. It was a great encouragement for us to challenge our own people to do something for the Lord to keep the fire and desire alive. Through any physical obstacles God’s grace is sufficient.
We spent that night in the city of Holguin and departed at 5 a.m. towards Camaguey and stopped by the town of Sibanicu where we visited Pastor Adrian Rodriguez an old friend of Pastor Jacinto Jane. We spent a few minutes overseeing the church installation. Pastor Adrian told us a story of a time when he rode his bicycle for 133 km in 6 hours to attend his church service. We arrive in Camaguey that evening and in the morning we attended a Chaplains gathering. About fifty Chaplain Volunteers attended the local Chaplain meeting. We encouraged and motivated them to fervently continue serving the Lord with passion and strong desire. During that meeting we met the previous national director of Chaplaincy in Cuba, Francisco (Pancho). Pastor Benjamin from Templo Aleluya (Hallelujah Temple) invited us to his church for Sunday service. This church is one of the largest churches in the Assembly of God. After the service, we got together with the Chaplaincy group and encouraged them through prayer and blessed them financially. We also gave some bibles to the church members because there is a great need of bibles in Camaguey since they claim that bibles are not allowed to be printed in the country.
Afterwards we departed towards La Habana, Cuba where we spent the night. In the morning we headed to Pinar Del Rio – Pastor Jane’s hometown. We then visited Iglesia Dios de la Proteccion which is pastored by Pastor Eliseo and helped a few needy people financially in the town of San Luis. We finally arrived in La Habana and the next day we visited the Cuban Superintendent of Assembly of God and he told us some history of the church of Assembly of God in Cuba, its growth and the changes they are currently facing. The same day, Pastor Moices Hernandez and brother Fermin took us to the airport where we headed back home.
As we started the year of 2012 in the mission field God promises blessings and great things that He has in store for us as we encounter His presence and seek His will first in obedience and submission. If He is for us, then who can be against us? Rejoice and unite with us as we continue to fervently serve our Lord Jesus Christ to whom belongs the Glory and Honor, Amen.
Rev. Constantin Lupancu together with the Blessed Hope International Mission Team