I am particularly thrilled because we have sought to serve the church in Cuba for the past three years, with no doors opening until now. There are very few ways to get books to Cuban church leaders. We have this unique opportunity to print John Piper's Finally Alive in Spanish within Cuba for a landmark pastors' conference this fall where more than 700 will gather from various denominations across the island. This event will be a first of its kind. Lord willing, several of us will be present to witness it.
I've asked Juan Sanchez, TGC Council member and preaching pastor at High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, to give us a report of his recent trip to the island to inform your prayers.
Imagine a city famous for its idolatry. Now, imagine a man who crafts figurines of the local idol for a living but comes to faith in Christ and has to abandon the only livelihood he has known.
I wouldn't blame you for thinking of Acts 19, where Luke records how Demetrius made a living building silver shrines of Artemis in Ephesus in the first century. However, I'm referring to a place in the 21st century: Santiago de Cuba, the second-largest city in Cuba, located on the eastern end of the island. Religious pilgrims travel just outside Santiago to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in El Cobre to pay homage and seek blessings from La Virgen de Caridad.
This same city is also known as the witchcraft capitol of the island nation because of the strong influence of Santeria, an African religion hiding behind a Roman Catholic façade. By God's grace, the Lord is doing a great work in Santiago and throughout all of Cuba. I know because I just returned from an eight-day trip through Cuba. It was in Santiago that I heard the story of the idol maker who came to faith in Christ.
I spent the first three days of my trip in Santiago at the seminary of the Eastern Baptist Convention. While there, I had the opportunity, along with my friend and Equipo Impacto director Alexis Perez, to train pastors and missionaries in expositional preaching/teaching. At least a couple of the pastors who attended our workshop minister in the aforementioned El Cobre area. Additionally, I preached one Thursday evening in a small church building in Santiago that was not large enough to house all the worshipers who attended---several stood outside.
On Sunday, I preached at First Baptist Church in Santa Clara, a significant and thriving church in the Western Baptist Convention. FBC Santa Clara has planted multiple churches and houses a seminary that trains and sends out pastors and missionaries throughout the island. Once again, the building could not contain all the worshipers---they met in two services.
The rapid growth of the gospel in Cuba generally has been well-known for some time. What may not be as well-known, however, is the existing urgent need to train pastors and missionaries in gospel-centered biblical interpretation, preaching, teaching, and application. Though many outside evangelicals have sought to resource our brothers in Cuba through various means, we've recently established relationships that will allow us to print gospel-centered resources in Cuba at a minimal cost.
I am thrilled that the Lord has made provision for The Gospel Coalition International Outreach (TGCIO) to provide 1,000 copies of John Piper's Finally Alive to pastors and missionaries throughout Cuba. We plan, Lord willing, to begin this distribution the week of October 22, at Equipo Impacto's first ever national pastor's conference. Will you join us in thanking God for this relief to the theological famine in Cuba? And I would urge you to prayerfully consider the list of current projects.