LIFE SPEAKS TO US!
By Bill C. Dotson
CUBA...was introduced to me in my teenage years, not by geography books, but by Cuban classmates. Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN was a boarding school at that time. Several of my classmates from wealthier Cuban families were sent to the U.S. during their high school years. In the 1950's the Cuban revolution was underway. These boys started recruiting us to join in and help overthrow the dictator Fulgencio Batista. None of us volunteered. Che' Guevara, Fidel and Raul Castro completed the takeover at the end of 1958.
Our Cuban classmates told us all about their country; some good, some bad. It intrigued me enough to want to visit one day. I thought about it often over the years. Then in the 1990's a friend, Rusty Coffee, invited me to join him on an evangelism trip through East-West Ministries. He said the fruit was low hanging! He was right. People were ripe for the hope of the gospel. I have returned several times. In fact, my heart was so gripped by the Cuban people and the faith of the believers that on my last trip I penned a poem--'Take me back to Cuba'.
As an aside, there was another low hanging fruit--mangos. So plentiful and so delicious! And the beaches are as white and beautiful as my classmates described.
Stories of the revolution were shared while we were there. Some broke my heart. The Communist regime under Castro was and continues to be very oppressive. But the joy of the Lord in the believers was so encouraging. I watched the transition from Batista with interest. We'll never know for sure if Cuba would have gone Communist if our President had welcomed Fidel when he visited here. He was shunned by the U.S., but not by Russia. Most of you know how the rest of the story is still being played out. Che' died later in Bolivia as a young man when one of his soldiers shot him. Fidel has just died after years of illness, with his brother Raul now in power.
President Obama recently opened the door to trade with Cuba once again. Many Americans and Cuban-Americans are split over the edict. The Cuban people are mourning Fidel's death. But Jesus is alive today in the hearts of over a million Christians who have trusted Christ during his regime. Some of these are third and fourth generation believers brought about by the work of European and American missionaries decades ago. The somewhat official religion in Cuba is Catholicism with some integration of Santeria, an African worship of saints. For more info in Santeria, go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/santeria/
God knew that my heartfelt poem would one day be fulfilled. Our AbidingFathers' ministry has just completed translating the curriculum into Spanish. Due to the burden I have for the Cuban people, I asked Kurt Nelson of East-West to share our book and study guide with some pastors on his recent trip there. He came back with a resounding YES.
So, I have since met with the new President of the Havana Seminary (God brought him to Ft. Worth, wouldn't you know). He is coordinating the printing of the Abiding Fathers curriculum (3,000 books) and the opportunity to teach more than100 pastors and seminarians in March 2017, Lord willing.
Why do I share this? Oh, there is sooo much more! Because God is on a quest for the hearts of mankind, and He can work in any kind of secular society or government. I have lived long enough to see governments and rulers rise, and fall. The scriptures assure us of that. "But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them"(Heb. 7:24-25 NIV).
One quick story of many I'll never forget. Late afternoon, it was hot, and I was tired. Operating in my flesh I suggested we call it a day and head back to the bus. Fortunately, my partner was still listening to the Spirit. He said let's make one last trip down the street. We came to a home with a really well-kept yard. An older gentleman was sitting on the porch with a younger man. They welcomed us. Long story shortened. After I shared the gospel, the old man said; "I am 80 years old and I knew there had to be a savior but I never knew his name till now." He and his son trusted Christ for salvation. I heard his wife working in the house. I asked if would it be possible to share with her. He said; "That won't be necessary, I'll tell her about Jesus tonight."
Do you think maybe Jesus has been interceding for the people of Cuba? And just maybe he has directed me for the past sixty years since high school to go back to Cuba this coming Spring to take The Good News to fathers and their families. I know the answer as I am living it! And I'm looking for other fathers to join me on the trip. Might that be you?
Bill C. Dotson