The Gospel in Unlikely Places

By Gary Smith

An outdoor bar in Cuba. Certainly, this was not where we expected to share the Gospel. We were walking back from an afternoon visit to the closest beach. An “ugly” beach, as we were told. But when you are from “beachless” Alberta, an “ugly” beach is a great beach. And it was.

On our way back from a relaxing time of gathering shells and listening to the ocean, we walked right by one of a few bars—bars without walls—with loud music and only one type of alcohol for sale.

I saw three guys sitting there and I felt the gentle whisper of the Spirit, Go talk to them. So, in very simple Spanish I introduced myself to them. Then our translator came and we could really talk.

I shared with them that our team was from Canada. They wanted to know if we had ever seen anyone with their skin colour before. You see, this off-the-beaten-path town was not normally visited. Why? Its beach was ugly and no tourists went to this part of the island.

The uniqueness of all of this created a great discussion that was leading to the Gospel. After some niceties in the conversation, I told them we were there speaking with them because God did not make mistakes and he had brought us there to share with them about how they could know Him personally.

One of the guys was an idol worshipper; one was wanting to believe because some of his friends had “found” God; and the other was a little too drunk to engage in the conversation in a helpful way. However, God’s Spirit was working in each of them. The drunkard calmed down, the idol worshiper began to really listen, and the man with friends who had found God was deeply engaged.

Our translator finally asked me if he could take over the conversation. I was more than willing to transfer the Gospel presentation into 100 per cent Spanish. In Spanish, the three men had their own questions. I finally interrupted and said, “Are they ready?”

The translator said, “Not quite.”

Finally, they were ready. Right there, at the outdoor bar by the ugly beach, and with the loud music, they prayed to receive Christ. Wow! Our mission trip felt so complete. And, the ugly beach communities are now on our mission team’s radar.

I also had the privilege of leading a session entitled Church Planting Essentials, which was written by Dynamic Church Planting International while we were there. We trained around 50 church planters. They left the training with a vision of planting 240-plus churches.

Our team also did construction,
visited many homes and encouraged the people.

We cannot wait to go back to visit ugly beaches, train more leaders, and see God at work on this amazing island.


Gary Smith, pastor of Bow Valley Baptist Church in Cochrane, Alberta, was part of a mission team led by Garry Tether. They went to Cuba to share the Gospel, train church planters, help with construction projects, and to minister to and encourage believers there.


Reprinted from the June 2019 CNBC Horizon. Read more here.