For the security of our Cuban family, all faces have been blurred.
As I periodically travel around the world to visit poor believers whom Heaven’s Family assists, I like to email “on the ground” reports in the form of blogs to our supporters. There are many of our supporters, however, who aren’t subscribed to our blogs. So in this month’s magazine, I’d like to share a few of the blogs I wrote in May from Cuba, a communist nation that has been called “the country of can’t” by one of our partners there. He was making reference to the countless government regulations that suffocate Cuban ambitions. Heaven’s Family has established eight thriving micro-banks in Cuba so far, and Christian borrowers are prospering in spite of their circumstances. Please consider signing up for future trip blogs here.
May 7/Makin’ Bacon:
The past few days have been filled with meetings with micro-bankers and their borrowers in their humble rural homes that, by North American standards, would be better described as shacks. As I’m writing these words, I’m sitting on the front porch of one of those shacks, which is owned by a middle-aged Christian husband and wife. Using an Opportunity Loan of just $166 from a Heaven’s Family micro-banker, the wife purchased a used, homemade, commercial-sized oven, in which she bakes tortillas, pizza and special-occasion cakes. In spite of unpredictable supply shortages of various ingredients, she is profitable and dreaming of expansion.
The borrowers we’ve been meeting are not only baking cakes, but fattening pigs, multiplying sheep, roasting peanuts, growing tomatoes, selling garlic and onions, manufacturing charcoal, driving horse-drawn taxis and more, taking advantage of opportunities they’ve never had before, all through small loans.
May 9/A Spiritual Map:
Today was another good day of visiting borrowers that ended with a special surprise. Our team was invited to a dinner pig roast by a pastor whom team member brother Dick told me was named Juan. When we arrived at Juan’s humble home, I recognized him as a pastor I’d met and whom Heaven’s Family significantly helped almost 7 years ago during one of my previous trips to Cuba. Six years before that visit, Juan had moved his family to a village of about 200 humble houses where there were no churches. His goal was to establish God’s kingdom where it had heretofore never existed.
At that time, Pastor Juan surveyed the entire village and drew a map that showed every house, marking each one where Christians lived. There were only 4 then. He also marked the 6 houses on his map that contained altars dedicated to Santeria, a Cuban mixture of voodoo and Catholicism. Six years after that (when I first met him), that map showed many houses as having Christians living in them, and there were no longer any homes with Santeria altars.
Before we sat down to eat roast pig, Juan brought out that old hand-drawn map. Over the past seven years, the Lord has continued to bless his ministry and church, and there were many more houses marked as being inhabited by believers. Pastor Juan’s church is bursting at the seams again.
Heaven’s Family has also helped Juan and the poor saints in his church with some self-sustaining agricultural projects, and those investments are really paying off. The pig roast turned out to be a big celebration that included Pastor Juan’s key church leaders and some missionaries who are, with his support, planting house churches in the region.