I want to talk about things the Church of Christ needs and doesn’t need in Cuba. I won’t try to talk about other religious groups, just the one I know the best.
- They don’t need Americans coming in to impose American worship practices. One Cuban told me of the first American visitors they had, back in the early 1990s. After the worship service, one of them came up and said, “You shouldn’t be singing during the offering.” Perfect example of what isn’t needed. If you feel the need to go tell someone how to worship, I’d suggest the mirror as the best place to do it.
- They don’t need outsiders imposing their views on fellowship. A Guatemalan preacher was teaching in Havana and told the group that another preacher who had previously visited Cuba “is no longer Church of Christ.” Besides the absurdity of such a statement from someone who supposedly opposes sectarianism, do we think that Cubans are children who need to be told who is right and who is wrong? As more and more outsiders visit Cuba, more conflicts are being created in the Cuban church.
- They don’t need foreigners determining what is “orthodox” and what isn’t. Some Mexican Christians who visited Cuba were highly offended to discover that the congregation they attended was using wine in the Lord’s Supper. Others have nitpicked at this doctrine or that. Again, Cuban Christians are not children. Nor is the Cuban church in its infancy. Restoration Movement missionaries went to Cuba in the late 19th century. The first missionaries from non-instrumental churches of Christ went there in 1937. If we believe that essential doctrines can be learned from the Bible itself, we have to trust the Cuban church to be able to interpret the Bible.
I could go on, but would probably only get myself in more trouble. Let me finish by quoting something that Dan Bouchelle (Missions Resource Network) shared on Facebook:
“In Africa, we were given the bread of life in a plastic bag and consumed the bag with the bread. This is what has caused our current indigestion and constipation.” – Dennis Malepa (at the Christian Scholars & Writers Symposium, Gaborone, Botswana)
Let’s allow Cuban churches to discard the plastic bag and feast on the bread of life.