Donald Trump needs to update his data if he’s going to understand the world of 2016. At least as far as the Christian world goes.
Before the Iowa caucuses he asserted that there aren’t many evangelical Christians from Cuba. At one time that may have been true.
Now, one of the most powerful revivals in the world is shaking the island.
The economic crisis of the 1990’s after the fall of the Iron Curtain helped kick off the move of God. Evangelicals have exploded in number from around 70,000 to, according to some estimates, nearly a million in 2016.
That’s tending towards ten percent of the population of the country.
One denomination’s experience can shed light on what’s happening. US Assemblies of God Superintendent, George Wood, reports what Cuban leaders told him on a recent trip.
In the late 1980’s God began to demonstrate his power in an unusual way in Cuba by signs and wonders. Wood says he personally met a pastor’s wife who was raised from the dead.
Unbelievers came into the services to see what was going on and were so moved they had to hold onto the walls for support.
Others were healed and stood up from their wheelchairs. One church went from 200 to 2000 in a day. Pastors had to relearn preaching because their churches filled up with unbelievers.
Sunday church attendance caught the attention of the authorities. They called in church leaders and told them that there was too much strain on public transportation on Sundays. They told them they should begin to meet in homes.
“That was like pouring gasoline on the fire of church growth,” according to one leader.
The Rev Ricardo Pereira, the bishop of the Methodist church of Marianao in Havana, has seen church attendance skyrocket from under 400 to 3,200 today.
Worship in Cuba isn’t a quiet subdued affair. Cries of “hallelujah” along with energetic songs accompanied by electric guitars and drums help Christians express their love for God.
“Other denominations want Cubans to stop being Cuban when they enter the church, and sit there like Europeans or Americans,” Pereira said. “We want to dance and be Cuban.” (Christianity Today)
It wasn’t always easy. Once a mob beat a pastor—but the ringleader of his tormentors got saved.
Pastor “Francisco” dreamed of Jesus for three years before coming to know him. Now the small church he pastors is full of zeal for the Lord.
“We have evangelized everyone who lives in this area, a New Testament Bible to each home,” he told CBN News. “We can’t stop — we won’t stop — because even if they won’t accept the Lord the first, second, third or fourth time, even so — we can’t stop until they come to the Lord.”
Pastor “Miguel’s” church outgrew the apartment where they met and now meets in a yard next to his apartment.
“When you have 80 to 100 people [meeting] in an apartment it’s hard, very hard,” he told CBN News. “And neighbors get upset.”
More than 16,000 new evangelical churches have sprouted up in the last 20 years.
Now that relations between the United States and Cuba have thawed a bit, leaders see a new snare for the young church—prosperity.
The magazine Christianity Today notes, “Cuba’s Christians have thrived despite the island’s politics and poverty… But the opening raises a concern: Will the revival be appreciated once Cubans have resources? One seminary leader worries that “the huge growth of the church, despite our limited resources, will no longer be a distinction.”
“Another challenge: the avalanche of outsiders coming to help. ‘There are many birds who want to land in Cuba,” explains Eduardo González del Río, rector of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Santiago de Cuba—“people who want to bring in their doctrine to help us.’”
And the magazine quotes a seminary leader, “If you want to see what someone is really like, give them money and give them power. Now we are going to see what kind of Christians we are.”
Challenges still abound. Authorities recently detained 200 evangelicals in an unregistered church and destroyed their building. But, the revival burns on.
So, to answer your question Mr. Trump, there are a ton of evangelical Christians in Cuba. God is seeing to that.
Sources consulted: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/november/will-embargo.html?share=od4F3l%2f8ieBzG85aY2JtdQYj1MfMoyag; Jeremy Weber is CT associate editor, news.