Faith Tested by Fire in Cuba
It has always been my joy to accompany our friends from the Christian Pentecostal Church in Cuba in their socio-economic projects. Specifically, they have some projects in the Municipality of Caimito, in the Artemisa Province, forty minutes away from Havana by car. Specifically, I remember a brick construction project where they provided concrete blocks to builders in the capital city. There was a boom in the revitalization of urban settings. The income produced by that project would benefit congregations and provide jobs for people, especially young persons. It was so sad to know that they couldn’t continue working on that project, and they had to close it.
Pastor Eliseo Navarro, ICPC’s President, shared with me, almost a year ago, the following: “In general, this project did not achieve the expected results. The manufacture of blocks has been impossible due to the lack of cement for work. The country is going through a resurgence of the blockade, and shortages have multiplied. The Cuban Government canceled the sale of cement released to the population, this being the basic raw material for the production of concrete blocks.” Then, he said to me, through a trembling voice, “We worked hard for this, and we had so many expectations. We wanted to provide an income source for the families of this community. When we had everything ready, all the machinery, workers, investments in cement, materials, and other resources, we received the news that the Government had to cancel our deal. The blockade against Cuba is something severe. It affects our families, our well-being. We lost almost all the efforts invested in this project.”
In times like these, I could testify how deep and revealing it is to witness the strength of our Cuban Partners’ faith! They didn’t stop in their lament for the loss of their failed project. Instead, they decided to invest some available funds in some agricultural land near the Caimito congregation, belonging to an elderly family that could no longer work. Now, in another conversation, weeks ago, Pastor Eliseo shared with me some good news:
We started working on the land I told you about in the second semester of 2020. Amid the challenges, we took the church to the field. We are now planting more than 25,000 square meters (2.5 hectares). We already could harvest corn. We prepared a second hectare to sow it as we get some rain out of spring coming in the country. ¡Dios es Bueno! ¡Para siempre es Su Misericordia! (“Good is good. His mercy is everlasting”)
As we continue denouncing the injustice of the economic blockade imposed by the U.S. Government against the people of Cuba, we also highlight how faith goes into a “trial by fire” there. Churches and communities affirm the genuineness of their faith and their commitment with their neighbors. This results in, as Apostle Peter describes it “—being more precious than gold and resulting in praise, glory, and honor” as Jesus Christ reveals Himself in the walking of solidarity and everlasting love. 1st Peter 1:6-7 (NRSV)