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.

Cuba… again

vbsOK, so I made my 15th trip to Cuba. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Each trip has been different. This one was special for me for a couple of reasons. I got to take my whole family with me. And I got to go with a group from my home congregation, the University church of Christ in Abilene, Texas.

The trip had the expected highs. 25 baptisms, which isn’t all that unusual for the church we were working with. Fascinating stories of faith in the midst of hardship, of the power of prayer, of God’s faithfulness. Lots of connections and reconnections. An outstanding national youth conference.

There were unexpected joys, like getting to see the impact the four young people in our group had on their peers in Cuba. My son Daniel and Daniel Austin got to jointly baptize 3 young men. My daughter Andrea led an outstanding drama workshop. The rest of our group also led workshops, which were well received. Paul Rotenberry did a 2-night marriage seminar which was quite a hit. The visits to Consolación del Sur and Santa Cruz del Norte were an encouragement to our group and to those we visited.

We were privileged to work with a group sponsored by the Madison church of Christ in Tennessee. They were the financial sponsors of the youth conference, and they brought an excellent team of men to work at that conference. Men like Carlos Gonzales, Luis Estrada and Alejandro Ezquerra made the conference an outstanding success. Herald of Truth’s Juan Monroy added some thoughtful lessons; his presence at the conference is always a highlight for the Cubans.

I may share some more, but I want to steer you to an insightful source of information this trip. My daughter Andrea wrote about it on her blog. It’s refreshing to read about this trip from an 18-year-old’s perspective. Let me encourage you to read her article: Cuba Mission Trip 2013

A farewell

p3280209I’ve been privileged to share her photo with thousands of people. Many have seen it in Herald of Truth presentations, in sermons, even on the cover of the book that’s on the right hand side of this page.

Her name is unusual, at least to me. Magalys, I believe it is.

While I was in Cuba, I learned that she passed away a few months ago.

I’m saddened. Yet not really. Her life here could best be described as a nightmare. When I met her in 2008, she was an amputee. Always had a catheter bag in her lap. She lived in abject poverty. A year after having the honor of baptizing her into Christ, I learned that she didn’t own a wheelchair, that she merely borrowed one to come to church.

As she put it, at home, she dragged herself around the house.

It took another year to get the wheelchair to her. I later found out that the one we took was too big for the doors in the tiny house she lived in. She traded it for a smaller one.

In 2011, I asked her exactly what her ailment was, referring to what had taken her leg. I assumed it was diabetes. She thought I was referring to what was really wrong with her.

“I’ve got cancer,” she said, almost cheerfully. “I’ll be going home soon to be with my Father.”

And she did just that, not long ago.

Tony Fernández told me that her family has no photos of her. Ironic, isn’t it, considering how many people here have seen her picture and even have a copy. That’s one last thing I’ll get to do for her… get some pictures to her family.

We only spoke a few times. But she taught me lots. And she’s preached far better sermons with her life than I’ve ever been able to with my words.

2013 Men’s Conference in Cuba

Tony at conferenceLast week I was in Cuba on behalf of Herald of Truth Ministries, along with my coworkers, Steve Ridgell and Larry Sanders. We were mainly there to visit our representative, Tony Fernández, and we also participated in the XIII National Preachers Conference in Matanzas.

It was a good week, with a mixture of visiting some of the dozens of house churches that Tony and his coworkers have planted, worshiping with the Versalles church in Matanzas, leading a midweek service at the Los Mangos congregation and speaking at the conference.baptism

We also got to spend time with Juan Monroy, which is always good. Juan and Tony have worked with Herald of Truth longer than any of the rest of us, Juan for over 40 years and Tony for 18 years. God has used them to lead thousands of people to become Christians. It’s always an honor for me to get to spend time with these instruments of God.

Hope you had a great week. With no Internet access, I fall behind on the memes and rumors of memes; I’ll get back into a blogging rhythm little by little.

conference