Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
June 14th, 2016 by Joel Watts

a testimony from a Cuban Methodist

IMC_2_CaptureAdmin note: This is a testimony from a Cuban Methodist, all names removed and changed. You know why. I have not changed much, except to straight up some spellings.  

I was 18 years old when someone spoke to me about God for the first time. Of course that back then it wasn’t exactly something weird listening to comments on the streets related to what was going on in the churches. Still, my mom was an officer of the army and my dad was a policeman; that is not the proper environment for a child to hear things about Jesus. I must add to that the characteristics of my country´s culture: here in Cuba you first try to solve your problems through the worshipping of idols and santeria than visiting a church.

So 10 years ago, the pastors we had in my church happened to be part of my family on my mom’s side. Well, to be more precise, it was the pastor’s wife who was my mom’s cousin and consequently, my second cousin. When they were moved to H., their first goal was to turn the family here to Jesus. That’s how I knew about God’s existence for the first time in my life. The pastor had visited us one day with 2 more brothers. That day I accepted Jesus in my heart as my Lord and Savior, together with my mom, who was with me in that moment in the house.

I was 18 and had no clue of what it meant to accept Jesus. So I continued with my life being a student at the university and listening to rock music. Soon after that my grandma on my mom’s side (who had been the first Christian of the family) had to go through a serious surgery. She had faith, and I guess that somehow i had some, but… not enough. Days before the surgery, I prayed God telling him, “Lord God, if my grandma goes well during this surgery, I promise that I will begin attending to church”. That was it! She did great and I kept my promise! That is how i started going to church.

Soon after, my cousin (pastora) put me in the sunday school classes to be baptized, which is how we do it here in Cuba. These lessons are supposed to last 6 months approximately. As I was through them, I involve myself into an ungodly relationship, and I didn’t know then that it would keep me from my baptism. In those days I had decided to take some piano and singing lessons at the church. I felt very good for seeing myself dedicating part of my time and life to God. One Saturday I go to my piano lessons and my teacher asks me, “A., aren’t you supposed to be baptized today? Everyone went to the beach.” I remember as if it was yesterday how my heart broke that day. I felt betrayed because no one had told me about the baptism, and I had been waiting for it. Days after, I asked my cousin the reason for not letting me know about the baptism, and she very gently made me understand that the I could not be baptized and be in a worldly relationship at the same time because it made no sense. How could I preach about Jesus then? I was showing the world no example by living a life in fornication. But…it was too late, I was 19 by then and I chose living that way instead of God. So the evil one had me into his chains for 2 years and 7 months. Of course I always kept going to church, but sometimes, just for any reason, I would often miss some services.

I have to say that God is special and so good, full of patience and love for us! He never stopped working in my life. Because of who he is and what he does, he gave me the strength to take the chains off me! He put angels in my life who helped me realize I was living a life he hadn’t chosen for me. As time passed by, I understood Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”. That’s exactly what happened with me; God had begun a good work in me!

So as soon as I got rid of those chains (meaning the relationship), I got baptized on Friday, November 20, 2009. I was 22 back then. When I saw myself free from sin, I started using literally all my free time to God. I was given a cell house where I lived to be the leader, and of course I said YES. So this is what I did with my spare time:

All mornings of the week were dedicated to my studies at the university, where I was studying English Language Major. Now, evenings were split into the following: on Mondays I began working with a pastor and his family in a mission that belonged to my church called C. (nowadays already a church). In the afternoons we would visit the members of the congregation and at night time we had the service. So I was helping with the preaching door by door inviting people to the services and telling them about the love of God. On Tuesdays I began to take a leadership course in my church at night. On Wednesdays I would attend the main services of my church. On Thursdays I had the cell house in my neighborhood at 8pm. On Fridays I began working in another mission of my church called Uñ. (also a church of my district today). On Saturdays I attended to the activities of the fraternity of the youth, also at 8pm. And on Sundays I would go to all services of my church, those in the morning and the one at night. I didn’t even want to think about my past, so I gave God everything, and in return, he gave so many blessings…..he gave me so much more than I would have imagined, cause that’s just who he is! Praise be God!!!

When I was 23, God gave me one of the biggest blessings of my life, he gave me my husband, so we got married. As I had to move to his house, the cell house was given to another leader and my husband and I were given one in the city. Were run that cell house for a year, where my mother-in-law and her husband accepted Jesus. So the family was increasing for God. My dad also accepted Jesus and many more. As the Bible says, “Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house. ”

After working together one year as leaders of the cell house, my husband wanted to be a missionary. I was a teacher at the university so I could not work full time for God as I wanted, but I understood that it was God’s time, not mine. As there were no missions available in the city, we decided to preach the word of God in a place 80 km away from here called RDB. It was a small countryside town with no methodist churches and many Jehovah witnesses, so we began a difficult and demanding work there with our pastor’s approval. We both had just turned 25, but I didn’t know I was pregnant. So we served God until I was 8 months pregnant. I couldn’t continue traveling because it was too far away, but my hubby continued going by himself as I stayed home waiting for my time to due. My time arrived and our baby boy was born in May, 2013. After one year in R., we were moved to a city mission, where we have been working for almost 3 years! The place is called VA and it is a blessed place! Eventually my dream came true and God took me out of the university, giving me a job in his house as the MUIP Coordinator. So now I coordinate transportation, place to stay and interpreters for the brothers and sisters who come from Florida to visit their sister church in our district H.-Centro. My husband continues as a missionary and one of the ushers leaders of the church. Our little one is 3 years old and I have no complaints to the Lord, for he has been more that good to me. He has been there for me all along, so I make huge effort every day to be like him and please him with my deeds, as he expects me to do.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

6 Responses to “a testimony from a Cuban Methodist”
  1. The obvious elephant in the room. How do Cuban Methodists feel about Catholic’s, the dominate religion? Good, bad, or indifferent?

    • Gary, their feeling is a bit nuanced. I was told by a leader that while American Catholics could be Christian, Cuban Catholics (given the infestation of Santaria) weren’t.

      • Thanks…I figured, since the subtle nuance of “worshipping of idols and santeria”.

        However, I personally doubt the Cuban Catholic’s would feel that way (although I have no personal experience). That would effectively mean that the Cuban Catholic priests and nuns were into it too. Which I find difficult to believe. I’m sure there are probable extreme examples of closet Catholic’s with Santaria leanings. Like old, cigar smoking, Grandma’s.

        • The thing that we must remember is that the Catholics in Cuba aren’t as connected to Rome as the Catholics in, say, Mississippi. Priests and nuns are treated differently in being sent there.

          • Maybe. I don’t know. But didn’t the Pope just visit? And Raul Castro had, I think, nice things to say about the Pope. I guess there may be three alternatives. 1. Cuban Methodists may tend to be more right wing, 2. Cuban Catholic’s may tend to be more left wing, 3. both view each other suspiciously with no real reason, other than to try and protect their own territories, from a religious standpoint. If I see a video of a cigar smoking Catholic priest, performing a sacrament using chicken’s blood, then I will believe the Santaria/Catholic connection. Otherwise, I think I prefer to attribute it to unproven distrust on both sides.

          • From:
            http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/20/world/pope-cuba-conflicts/

            If we view “church” in the Pope’s statement as the worldwide, Christian church of all denominations, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, (even, cringe, Jehovah’s Witnesses), I see his statement as both a validation of Christian principles, and also Christian diversity, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

            Statement by Pope in Cuba:
            “Conflicts and disagreements in the church are to be expected and, I would even say, needed,” said the Pope. “They are a sign that the church is alive and that the spirit is still acting, still enlivening her.”

Leave a Reply, Please!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: