An evangelistic team from the Georgia-Cumberland Conference led by Neftaly Ortiz, Hispanic evangelism coordinator, set out for Cuba on July 10 to conduct meetings. Simultaneously, Tropical Storm Chantal was brewing in the Atlantic and threatening to become a hurricane. The projected course of the storm had it headed straight for the location where the group would be—Holguin, Cuba. The team of eight individuals prayed earnestly regarding the storm, that it not delay or cancel the trip. To God’s glory, the storm dissipated and did not make landfall. The evangelistic team arrived on schedule, and the evangelistic meetings occurred without disruption. This would be the first of many miracles God would work in Cuba over the next two weeks.
The country of Cuba is its own union within the structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. According to the current Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, at the end of 2012, the Cuba Union Conference had 302 churches and a church membership of 32,963. Cuba itself has a little over 11 million inhabitants, meaning a ratio of one Adventist for every 340 people. The union is comprised of three conferences—Central, East, and West—and one mission, Eastern. The evangelistic team went to the East Cuba Conference, which encompasses 82 churches and 9,124 members. The plan was to conduct six simultaneous meetings in Las Tunas, Cañada de Melones, Potrerillo, Banes, Moa, and Cueto. These locations were specifically chosen in order to evangelize smaller, more rural locations outside the urban area of the regional capital of Holguin.
The beautiful people of Cuba, while poor, are content with what they have and do not complain. They are hungry for the Word of God. Pastors make the equivalent of only $25 a month, yet they maintain a wonderful spirit of service. The faithful church members were supportive of the meetings, giving of their time and resources. It was impressive to see the sacrifices people made to attend the meetings: walking long distances, riding for hours in the backs of crammed trucks, and getting home late at night only to be there early the next evening. In the small community of Retrete, three Adventist women invited their neighbors to the meetings in Banes, Cuba. A truck was hired to bring the group the 40 minutes each way along the bumpy roads. In the end, more than 50 were coming in the truck, and they wanted to continue studying!
The meetings were a spiritual blessing to the evangelistic team, the host churches, and all of those who came to hear the truth of Jesus. Lives were changes, people gave their hearts to the Lord, and a great revival occurred among the members. Hundreds of non-Adventist children attended Vacation Bible Schools that were held at the sites. Overall, more than 1,250 people attended the evangelistic meetings at the six locations. There were 69 baptisms during the meetings, and more than 150 precious people made decisions to be baptized.
Written by BJ Boles, former pastor of the Augusta First Church