Horizon Weekly | 27 May 2020
BVBC Cuba Mission Trip, March 2020
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By Max Blazina
The Bow Valley Baptist Church mission team meets four new Cuban church planters (front, left to right) who will be sponsored by the church.
What seems like yesterday but in actuality was more than two months ago, I had the privilege of joining a vibrant team from Bow Valley Baptist Church entering Cuba for one week of volunteer ministry. Looking back on our time there with the benefit of hindsight, it is beautifully obvious how God was at work, preparing the hearts and minds of the team members and Cuban people, and coordinating countless logistics and divine conversations.
After arriving in Cuba and connecting with our primary contact and interpreters, our team of twelve quickly settled into a comfortable routine. We had four primary activities: a church expansion construction project, door-to-door visitation and evangelism, three music concerts, and a full hands-on two-day sewing class.
Everyone had opportunities to learn and experience something new as all the team members rotated participating in the construction work and evangelism during the day. We all quickly appreciated the difficulty of physical labour under the hot, humid Cuban sun, and marvelled at the ease at which our patient foreman could deftly lay a line of neatly mortared bricks. Our amateur efforts were appreciated, and provided some cross-cultural entertainment!
The daily evangelism and visitation times were certainly an eye-opener for all. I’ll boldly speak for the team here and assert that these times were perhaps the most impactful. Led by a local church planter and interpreter, the team would walk the streets and knock on doors as the Spirit impressed us. There were some polite refusals, but the majority let us in to visit. Some were already on the pastor’s radar, while others were a first-time contact. It was amazing to see how quickly common threads were discovered, bridges were formed, and awkward walls were torn down as complete strangers engaged in personal stories of God’s redemption and His desire for all to come to Him. Over and over, we witnessed God soften hearts as His love was communicated through our personal and shared experiences.
Frequently, with tears of joy, our interpreters gently led individuals in a simple prayer to receive Jesus. Regardless of the outcome, the church planter was always noting names and locations for follow-up and prayer. In our end of day team devotional and debrief as we shared our stories from the day, we were continually reminded of God’s timing intertwined in each of these encounters.
A team member plays the Jingling Johnny during a worship concert.
There were three evenings where seven members of the team put on a full worship concert to full houses. The crowds thoroughly enjoyed the lively music and sang along with our team during several songs in Spanish. The “Jingling Johnny”—a percussion instrument, usually homemade—created quite the stir when played by our resident expert and most seasoned traveller of the group.
A highlight was our participation in a couple of community baseball games. Two church teams graciously allowed us to join in a game among themselves and then we enjoyed watching them take on a community team for a second game. The universal language of sport allowed for some great interaction between the church and the community, and two people from the mission team were able to share their testimonies during a break. Again, we saw God’s perfect timing as we were able to hand out a set of donated uniforms to each of the three teams.
It was also a special privilege to provide four new church planters with a stuffed suitcase each packed with various personal necessities, clothing, and some electronics our team had brought into the country. What a joy it was to get to know them and hear their stories and then pray for and encourage them.
While hand sanitizing and daily temperature checks had appeared overnight in Cuba because of COVID-19, the full extent of the pandemic reaction was a bit of a shock when we got home. Shortly after returning, our contact in Cuba mentioned that the borders were completely closed a couple of days after we left—another reminder of God’s impeccable timing on our trip. Had we booked the trip later, it would have been cancelled. Worse, we could have been stranded there for some time.
I could spend several more days recounting everything that we saw and did, but it would soon get tedious. The best solution? You’ll just have to go and see it for yourself. It’s never too late to engage in a different culture and experience the reality of God’s timing first hand!