The pastor in the left-hand photo spent five years apart from his little daughter while in a Cuban prison—for preaching the gospel and speaking in other countries about Cuba’s problems. Incarceration didn’t slow him down, however, and he won fellow inmates to the Lord. One of them was the man in the middle photo, who was then doing eight years for assault and robbery. He now runs an amazing Christian rehabilitation center, reaching out to drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes and street people. (Your gifts are helping us to assist his ministry.) The man in the right photo (who is also now a pastor) was his very first convert—a former drug addict and alcoholic who spent five years in prison for rape. These were just a few of the “trophies of grace” who attended our three-day pastors’ conference in Havana last month. Among so many former law-breakers, I didn’t feel so bad breaking a Cuban law that required a special religious visa for which we didn’t have months to wait! But the one who can open the eyes of the blind can also blind the eyes of the seeing, and our not-so-secret pastors’ conference was not hindered for lack of a visa.
Dictator-for-Life Fidel Castro is finding it harder all the time to keep the gospel from spreading to the eleven million people of his Caribbean island. His government outlawed the building of new church buildings 45 years ago. So new churches began meeting in homes…thousands of homes. Some individual house churches now have 100 people in attendance. People sit outside and listen. So now the government is threatening with a new law: House churches will be limited to twelve people, and no electronic instruments or amplification will be permitted. Good luck, Mr. Castro! All you will be doing is increasing the quality of discipleship!
Our Cuban pastors’ conference marked a milestone for our ministry in that it was the first conference where our book specifically written for pastors, The Disciple-Making Minister, was available in printed form and in the native language of all the pastors who attended. The conference organizer actually published 150 Spanish copies by means of a copy machine and a worn-out stapler. Because the stapler could only bind 60 pages, the book was distributed in four volumes to every pastor. The information found in those pages would take me at least two months of teaching every day to cover. So we thank God and we thank you, our dear friends, for making this possible. We have only begun our work in Cuba. We will print thousands of books there. Already a wonderful church in Arkansas has sent us $1,000 to that end!
The living conditions in Cuba are worse than I imagined. After almost fifty years of socialism/communism, Cuba is falling apart. Practically every building in Havana looks like it is about to collapse. People eat a lot of rice and beans. Many necessities are rationed. That pastor who spent five years in prison in the above left-hand photo lives in a tiny three-room apartment of only 300 square feet. You have to see it to comprehend it. He is a very dedicated pastor, and he has planted and oversees four house churches since his prison release. We promised him monthly support so that he can have a little better place to live with his family.
The Lord provided the money for Becky to join me on this trip, and she brought reading glasses for the pastors, their wives, and some precious ladies who cooked meals for the conference participants. Many of the older pastors had not been able to read their Bibles because they needed reading glasses. For just $1 each, we were able to provide for them what the “free healthcare” of Cuba could not provide. Our old friend and American-Russian, Viktor Koroteyev, also joined us, and he preached in churches and purchased and delivered food to very poor Christian families during the conference. The Cubans fell in love with him. Thank you for making all of this ministry possible. All the glory goes to the Lord.
May was a busy month. I not only spent eight days in Cuba, but also ministered in two weekend conferences—in Texas and Minnesota. And as you are reading this, I’ve been in Eastern Europe, in Bulgaria, for a week, to return June 7. Five of our books have been translated and printed in Bulgarian and have been distributed all over that country. While I’m in Bulgaria, I’m teaching at five two-day pastors’ conferences in major cities and today am doing the third one. This is really an amazing door that has opened, as all five conferences as well as the translation and printing of our books have been initiated and paid for by a Bulgarian national ministerial alliance. It has only cost me a plane ticket to get there. Praise God!
Speaking of books, I signed an agreement in May with Elim Publishers of Taiwan to publish a Chinese translation of Modern Myths About Satan and Spiritual Warfare for distribution in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. Those countries and cities, unlike the usual places I minister, are places where people can afford to buy books. This is not a lucrative deal, but it will probably bring a few hundred dollars a year in royalties to our ministry. Primarily we’ll gain the joy of helping Christians who have been misled by false teaching about spiritual warfare in countries where I’ve never ministered.
We are facing the problem of having more invitations from around the world for pastors’ conferences than we can possibly fill. But last month we were blessed to ship cases of books that were distributed to pastors in the Philippines, India, Sierra Leone and Benin. Our books will go where we never will, and the hunger among pastors in developing countries is so great. Our greatest current needs are for funds to print The Disciple-Making Minister overseas for free distribution to pastors. Your generosity makes this possible. Thanks so much.
Upcoming USA Conferences
For friends in Pennsylvania, I’ll be speaking three times at a conference in Harrisburg June 9-11. I’ll also be speaking in Colorado Springs, Colorado July 15-17 and in Sacramento, California July 29-31. These weekend conferences are focused on revival, repentance and restoration, hosted by New Zealander Andrew Strom. If you are interested, you can e-mail me for details.
In closing, I’ve added a few more photos of some of the Cuban ministers. You helped make them smile!