02 May Caribbean Island has Breakthrough Potential for Mobilization
“Other famous men, those of much talk and few deeds, soon evaporate. Action is the dignity of greatness.” -Jose Martí, Cuban revolutionary and poet.
Recently part of the Storyline team traveled to the largest island in the Caribbean: Cuba. Cuba has an amazing history, one which is tangled in Spanish colonialism, American imperialism, world class architecture, slavery, piracy, innovation, and revolution. It truly is the place where much of the Americas’ history collides. Over the centuries many men fought and died for a stake in this land. It has been said that there is no place on earth that compares with this nearly 800-mile-long island, where Spanish colonial architecture, 1950’s Americana, and 20th century Soviet style factories and apartment buildings can all be seen within a few kilometers of one another.
Traditionally Roman Catholic, and later atheist, Cuba has over 11 million people and also has the fastest Protestant growth rate in the Caribbean. For many North Americans, Cuba has been a land of intrigue and mystery since the 1959 revolution. Until a year ago, it was difficult for most people from the United States to travel to Cuba. Here we found a growing Evangelical church, filled with intelligent, well educated, and competent leaders who have a passion to make Jesus known where he is not. We found warm, friendly people who, despite many years of strained relations between their country and ours, were open, inviting, and generous towards us.
Quite possibly the most exciting thing we saw in Cuba was the desire to send cross-cultural workers to very difficult places, and very solid, unconventional plans to help make this happen. The unique flavor of Cuban Christianity, mixed with their ingenuity, and intellect, makes our brothers and sisters to the south of us awesome partners. The Cuban evangelical church needs to have a seat at the table of the global mission movement. The Western world may have some expertise we can offer to the Caribbean church, but our experience exploring Cuba showed us that they also have a lot to offer us as North Americans as well.
In this global era, missions is all people going to all places. This is the undeniable nature of the globalized world in which we live. While in Havana, we met Chinese government workers, South African medical students (there are over 2,000 in Cuba), European tourists, and even an Italian tattoo artist. Each person has a unique story that connects to the rest of the world. Missions is about going, but also about sending, welcoming, praying, and mobilizing. We must ask how the church engages and fits into this story which is unfolding not just in Havana, but also throughout the entire earth? How does this affect our approach to missions today? What does this mean, not just for sending out of the Caribbean, but also for welcoming?