Trip to Cuba: November 2014

Alain after baptismsLast week I got to go to Cuba, accompanying my wife Carolina and several others from the University Church of Christ in attending the national women’s conference in Varadero, Cuba. As always, it was a great trip.

One of the highlights happened on Sunday. The Matanzas church is very active evangelistically, so there are almost always several baptisms while we are there. I know the complications that can arise from foreigners baptizing, so I normally resist that aspect of ministry there. Knowing that they would ask me about it, I tried to be proactive and think of who I could suggest do it.

Then I remembered Alain. Alain was baptized a couple of months ago in Matanzas, though he’s from the province of Villa Clara. Tony Fernández, the preacher at the Versalles church in Matanzas, received a letter from Alain after Alain had heard some of our radio programs. Tony studied with Alain and baptized him and another man.

On the Sunday that we were there, Alain had traveled in with his wife and son. His wife wanted to be baptized. So I suggested that Alain be taught how to baptize and that he perform the baptisms. They took my suggestion, and it was a wonderful day for Alain, hopefully one that will further prepare him to lead the new church that is developing in his hometown.

2014 Cuba Youth Conference

Last week I was in Cuba with a group from the University Church of Christ in Abilene. Our church sponsored the conference, along with 3 churches in Tennessee and some other individuals. It was especially nice for me to travel with my wife, Carolina, and daughter, Andrea.

I feel like a broken record when I tell about Cuba. It was wonderful, great, exciting…. The work in Cuba continues to be one of the most encouraging works I’ve been a part of. Half a century of socialism coupled with an economic embargo imposed by the U.S. have left the island’s economy in shambles. People live constantly on the border of disaster. Yet being there makes me think of James’ words:

“Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5)

I’ll share some pictures from the trip:


The ladies from our mission team


Tony Fernandez, Herald of Truth rep in Cuba


Tony leads singing Sunday a.m.


One of several baptisms Sunday a.m.


Worship at the church’s farm Sunday afternoon


Baptism at the farm


Youth conference


Paul Rotenberry and Steve Austin, elders from UCC


Some of our team with a family from the province of Las Tunas


Andrea sharing her story with the young ladies


Ladies sent by the Madison church in Tennessee


Lighthouse built by the young people. Each box had a Christian virtue printed on it.


Tony Fernández and Ammiel Pérez, two of the principal leaders in Cuba


Alejandro Ezquerra speaks to the young people


There were 3 baptisms the last night of the youth conference


The church had a party for the elderly of the congregation


Me and one of my favorite people: Pastor Cardenal. I call him “Bishop,” which always makes him laugh.

Getting Ready for Cuba

16_Ne_03_01_RGI’ll be traveling to Cuba next week with a group from the University Church of Christ in Abilene. UCC is helping sponsor the national youth conference in Cuba this year, and we’ve got 8 of us going to participate in the event.

The general theme is “Let’s Build Together,” based on the book of Nehemiah.

I got to choose my topics, so I chose three building themes, even though only one of them comes directly from Nehemiah:

  • We Are Doing A Great Work (Nehemiah 6) — I’ll use the stories of how the opposition (external and internal) tried to stymie Nehemiah’s work and how he remained focused. We’ll talk about handling criticism and focusing on building the Kingdom of God.
  • Doing The Task God Has Assigned To Us (1 Corinthians 3:5-15) — This one isn’t related to Nehemiah, but it does talk about how the church is built by different people doing different tasks in different ways. We’ll talk about jealousy, rivalries, and staying focused on the task.
  • Some Wept While Others Shouted With Joy (Ezra 3:10-13) — This is the story of the ex-exiles relaying the foundation of the temple. The older generation wept, while the younger generation shouted for joy. We’ll talk about how one generation has built something, while another generation is wanting to build. One focused on what is and was; the other focuses on what can be. Both perspectives are needed in the church.

It’s not too late. Do you have any suggestions?

Illustration courtesy of Sweet Publishing

Cuba Day

IMG_1764I made a trip to Huntsville, Alabama, on behalf of Hope For Life (Herald of Truth). I attended the Cuba Day meeting at the Mayfair Church of Christ in that city, along with 45 other people. IMG_1776The guest of honor was Ammiel Perez, a preacher from Havana who acts as the liaison between the government and the churches of Christ (“president” of the association of churches of Christ in Cuba). [That’s a picture of the two of us at the conference]

I got to speak twice, once talking about the youth conference that Herald of Truth supported for many years, then again, telling about Herald of Truth’s current ministry in Cuba.

IMG_1755Then on Sunday, I was invited to preach for the Mayfair church. Mayfair is a very mission-minded church, and this past Sunday was their Service Day, where members carry out service projects throughout the city. It was a great weekend.

Travels with Tony

OK, hiatus is over. Let’s get back to work. I’ve spent the last few weeks traveling with Tony Fernández, my friend from Matanzas, Cuba. Tony has been the Herald of Truth representative in Cuba since 1995, doing follow-up on our radio ministry all across the nation of Cuba.

Tony arrived in the States on September 11; he’ll leave October 9 to return home. While he was with us, he did the following:

    • Spoke twice for the bilingual group at the University Church of Christ in Abilene
    • Taught three classes at ACU’s Summit
    • Spoke to students at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama
    • Spoke to the main assembly of the University Church of Christ in Abilene
    • Spoke at Coventry Christian School in Pennsylvania and met with area church leaders
    • Spoke to the Chesmont Church of Christ in Pottstown, Pennsylvania
    • Spoke twice to Harding University’s student chapel
    • Gave a keynote lecture and taught three classes at the Harding Lectureship

After leaving here, Tony spoke yesterday for the church of Christ in Clinton, Mississippi. Busy times!

A number of Tony’s talks can be found online. Let me share here a video that was prepared for Harding. It’s only four minutes and well worth your time.

If the video doesn’t play well, you might try watching it on Facebook.
Facebook videos don’t always embed well.