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BETTER TOGETHER

20 Sep, 2015

    For the last 4 years, God has allowed me to witness an incredible movement of God in this precious island called Cuba. Just 90 miles away from Key West in Florida and 37 minutes flight from Miami, Florida , it has been incredible that we didn’t arrive here before to partner with Cuban pastors, planters and missionaries. So far, we have been working with church planting in Pinar del Rio where we arrived in 2012 and since that encounter with a visionary leader, we have seen an amazing church planting movement, with around 35 new churches planted in 3 different “municipios” Guane, Mantua and Sandino localized in Pinar del Rio. Our intention is to plant churches in communities with no churches. In our last trip to Cuba, our team was part of an unique baptism of new believers from 34 churches planted. After that baptism, we celebrated the Lord Supper in an incredible scenario, like in the books of Acts. As Jim slacks mentioned in his investigation in What Have we Found and I quote: “The most dramatic church growth in all of Latin America in the 1990s occurred among the Protestant churches of Cuba. The human agency for this Protestant revival may have unwittingly been Communist Cuban government leaders at the highest level”1 I agreed with that opinion. I have seen that Cuba is open for the Gospel. Back in August, the Cuban government has authorize the entrance of Bibles to the while, lifting the prohibition of 5 decades.

Despite continued Communist efforts to repress Christianity in Cuba, the Church continues to proliferate. Although comprehensive statistical reports are largely unavailable, indications are that since 2000 Protestant churches in Cuba are growing at an annual rate of over six percent.” 2

“The 2006 annual report of the Western Baptist Convention indicates that the total ‘Baptist community’ (church attendance) has doubled between 2000 and 2006! 2

    One of our partners, Dr. Don Walker, who has been traveling with us in the last two trips to cuba, has written the following comment: Two and a half years ago, I took leadership of the Suwannee Baptist Association consisting of 39 churches in North Central Florida. I began by sharing a vision statement that those churches could be "Better Together." Two are better than one, three are even stronger and 39 churches...only God knows what He can accomplish when we think outside of our box and begin to focus on building His Kingdom.

    In the beginning even I did not understand the entire scope of the statement, "Better Together." Having just returned from Cuba for the third time in the past year, I am seeing the fulfillment of the vision more clearly. The concept of "Better Together" is not just limited to the churches in our Association or even the Florida Baptist Convention.

    Now as churches in our area begin to partner with church planters in Cuba through Come Over Ministries, the vision is taking on an even greater meaning as churches, Sunday School classes and even individuals in rural North Florida are partnering with Cuban church planters to plant churches in the fertile fields of western Cuba. I am blessed that God chose to expand my vision for our churches to include out new partners in Cuba. Thanks to Pastor Martin and Come Over Ministries for allowing us to join God in what he's doing just 35 minutes south of Miami in the white fields of 11 million people of this beautiful island. Who know's...I may even have to learn Spanish!

“Evangelicals now outnumber church-going Catholics. The 1,250 evangelical congregations in 1990 has increased to possibly 4,500 congregations and a further 10,000 house groups in 54 denominations. A high proportion of the new Christians are young people.” 3

    Today, we are moving to a great vision, partnering with local leaders, we named it VISION 2020, and the goal is to Plant 120 New churches by 2020 in Pinar del Rio. After our return to Florida, we start to encourage other local leaders to partner with Come Over to see a new future in Cuba. And we are sure that is BETTER TOGETHER.


REFERENCES 1. Jim Slack, “What Have We Found,”a paper presented during MIS 9400: Facilitating Church Planting Movements, at Columbia International University, Columbia, SC., January 2007. Slack is Church Growth Consultant for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. 2. Alberto González, Dios No Entra en mi Oficina (Havana: Editorial Bautista, 2003). 3. Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, Operation World: 21st Century Edition (Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster USA Publishing), p. 215.

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