Jul

02

2012

Bill Walsh|10:00 PM CT

Funded: John Piper's 'Finally Alive' for Cuban Pastors

This week we are rejoicing and thanking God for providing the needed funds to launch one of our first Relief Projects under the vision of TGC International Outreach.

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.

Bill Walsh is director of international outreach for The Gospel Coalition. He worked for Desiring God Ministries for 13 years. Starting in 2006, he and a small team built a global network of partners for the cause of Theological Famine Relief for the Global Church. This initiative joined TGC in 2012. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in Minneapolis and has two adult children, Beau and Regan. Contact Bill at Bill.Walsh@TheGospelCoalition.org.

  • Peter

    awesome :) love the idea of supporting indiginous churches and christians with resources and helping equip them to join in the gospel, doing what we can to help!

  • The under ground church

    While the article is an eye opener to many, it is also a dangerous weapon against Christians working in Cuba. Things are not what they appear to be. I have been working in Cuba for more than six years and I welcome all hands on board. My advice to you is that you never publish article like this using names and specific locations. In your innocence you have just put yourself at risk and will be closely watched when you go back. Our prayers are with you are for what you are about to do. May the Lord bless and keep you.

  • Erik McEntyre

    My prayers are for the man who has stopped making idols? how will he make a living? Also, it does seem wise not to disclose locations and names.