Cuba, Shaken But Not Crushed

Residents of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second largest city, awakened in the early hours of Sunday, January 17th, to a number of earthquakes. The city became a symphony of telephone rings as the “word of mouth” network was activated simultaneously with the radio and the Civil Defense. The first earthquake was recorded at 1:37 a.m., pegged at 5.0 on the Richter scale, the most severe recorded. On Thursday, the 21st and Friday, the 22nd, earthquakes measuring 4.3 and 3.0, respectively, were recorded. In all 700 earthquakes have been recorded, with 28 of them noticeable.  Given the poor structural condition of most houses, many people were put out of their homes fearing collapse. The Civil Defense has been instructing and teaching families about how to be prepared.  Apparently, the worst is yet to come.

That same Sunday, about 550 miles away, at around 4:00 p.m., large waves overtook the famous Malecon seawall in Havana.  Flood waters extended inland for five blocks to G Street and Linea. On Saturday, the 24th, the enraged sea again poured into low lying areas along the Havana coastline. Many prepared for the floods, while others simply waited with uncertainty.

Is it unusual that the two larges cities in Cuba were struck by major weather and seismological events within a few days? We see in the Bible how God used weather and natural phenomena to get His people’s attention and turn their eyes back to Him. Times of desperation are significant opportunities for the Gospel.  In the aftermath of this crisis, over 2000 people in Santiago have come to know Jesus and His unconditional love.  Our Vice President in Santiago, Pastor Carlos Rivaflechas, who has been unable to return to his own home, reported this great harvest for the Kingdom. Our people in Cespedes have organized a support team and are sending them out today, Monday, the 25th.    
 
God is calling us to pray for the people of Santiago, Havana and all of Cuba. Would you join us in fasting and prayer over the next several weeks?
 
Dios te Bendiga,


Carlos Alamino, Jr

DON'T WAIT FOR THINGS TO HAPPEN, MAKE THEM HAPPEN!

In 1992, I was serving as the pastor of a church in the Province of Granma. Impassioned by the vision of planting new churches, my wife, Soledad, and I visited a small village called Limoncito. Exhausted from our long walk, about 17km, we stopped at a very humble and small house.  A woman greeted us and invited us in.  In a corner of the small living room, a little girl was lying in a bed.  At that time, the girl was a mere 8 years old.  I was shocked to see that she had a severe birth defect and was missing both legs.  My heart was moved as I wondered what future this poor little girl could have in this place.  “What is your name?”, I asked.  “Yulaicy”, she responded.  I could see a cry for help in her eyes.  After sharing Jesus’ love with Yulaicy and her mother, I understood that the most difficult thing for her to  comprehend was that God could love someone like her.  I looked into her eyes and said, “There is hope.”  “God has plans for you.  Here, take this New Testament.”  I then wrote a dedication in that Bible which read, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.  “How will I do that?”, she asked. I responded, “I don’t know, but you will do it!”

Fast forward twenty years.  Yulaicy and her husband, Roberto, accepted the call to be pastors in 2012.  Motivated by the words I had written in that now worn testament, they started a mission in a small, difficult, and inhospitable village on the outskirts of their town.  A few years later, they joined the missions team of Empowering the Nations.

A few months ago, we decided to film a documentary of this couple and their mission field.  We wanted to document their daily lives, showing how they so faithfully accomplish the work of the ministry despite significant physical limitations and difficult living conditions. They are passionate servants of God, shining examples to all who teach and preach the Word. 

The documentary was published on October 13, 2015. A facebook page called "Honduras para el mundo" shared it on October 24. 

As of November 19, 2015:

3,413,542 views
137,704 shares
31,895 likes
3,195 comments

Can it be true?  In just 26 days, Yulaicy had shared, through her example, with over 3.4 million people!  Many doubted the words I wrote in that New Testament, that a crippled 8 -year- old would preach the Gospel to all the earth.  But that is just what God did.  In less than a month period, Yulaicy and Roberto had influenced the entire world.  In Mark 16:14-15, Jesus said, “Later, He appeared to the Eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who saw Him after He had been resurrected."  Then he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”

I have lived my entire life in a country where we are told that God does not exist; where families and hearts are severely wounded; where the dreams of a nation are destroyed.  When thinking about this, it is easy to lose heart and want to give up the fight.  But we have learned to focus on God’s glory rather than those things that limit us. It is through this that love overcomes hate. 

If the love of God can help Yulaicy, without legs, to fulfill the purpose for which she was created, imagine what He can make happen with you today? 

Is God in your plans?

Pastor Carlos Alamino
ELNAC President  

24th Anniversary!

Original picture from 1991.

Comments from the President to the ELNAC team on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the ministry.

Dear Friends and Fellow Laborers in God’s Calling,
 
God has faithfully allowed us to reach 24 years in ministry, to God be the glory!  On a day like today, 15 children met under a tree and began studying the Bible and believing that God would fulfill His promises.  Today, 24 years later, we are a network of ministries that makes disciples through out Cuba and the nations.
 
Congratulations, ELNAC team!  Each day, through your faithfulness, love and joy, you continue the mission that Christ gave us, that is, to make disciples of all nations!  Each one of you is a member of God’s army, extending His kingdom.  The road has not been easy.  Looking back at these 24 years I ask myself, “Who are we that God should have prepared our lives and used us to extend His glory?”.  We are chosen and compelled to continue the work.  The future will be better than the past, but it will not necessarily be different in battles and difficulties.  We will have to be more unified and committed than ever before.  We cannot rest on past successes.  We cannot take our eyes off of the goal.  Yes, the past 24 years have been difficult, as will be the next 24 and so on until Christ’s return.  But, God is taking us to new heights for His Glory!
 
I believe that the challenges ahead will be different from the past in the sense that we must learn and adopt a new paradigm where ego and centralism cease to exist, where self is sacrificed to continue doing the work.  Be careful that, having reached your goals, you forget where you came from. Our success is in remaining unified, trusting in God, being humble and putting others before ourselves.  It is in saying “yes” to God in the midst of difficulties and doing what He calls us to do.  It is in saying, “I will serve You, Lord, for Your glory and not for mine.”  It is in living committed to His kingdom.  It is being a child of God.
 
If God has blessed you then do not let yourself be governed by thoughts that place doubt in your mind.  Always think and speak about the eternal.  Don’t exchange a lifetime of service to God for one day of personal glory.  Don’t seek to create your personal kingdom.  God’s kingdom is enough!  Don’t give the glory to personal accomplishments, but to God.  It is better to submit than to rebel, better to die than to fight against God.
 
Finally, let us not forget the sacrifices of many who are no longer with us.  Who we are today is due, in large part, to their sacrifices, perseverance, faith and love.  These friends accomplished so much with so little.  Today, I respectfully honor their memories.
 
Thank you for loving our family, for supporting us and defending us.  Thank you for allowing yourselves to be led and for being our friends.  I pray that God will prepare each heart as He is preparing mine.  I continue to believe and dream as I did in 1991.  Today, I do so on a foundation built by so many of you, God’s hands extended.
 
God is Faithful!
Psalm 8
 
We love you!
Pastor Carlos and Soledad Alamino    

DANCING FOR JESUS!

... and other stories from Summer Ministries 2015

As the wheels touched down, the plane burst into an explosion of cheering and clapping. Last year, this was an unexpected phenomenon for our family.  This year, it was a welcoming herald that were back in our beloved Cuba.  As we looked around the cabin, many passengers were weeping tears of joy, their hearts dancing in anticipation of seeing the loved ones they had been separated from for decades. For us, there was also anticipation for the great adventure that God was preparing on this mysteriously beautiful island nation just 90 miles off the southern coast of Florida.

The Pino family was once again blessed to participate in the summer ministries programs of Empoderando Las Naciones (Empowering the Nations).  This year we had the opportunity to bring along dear friends who had never been to Cuba.  Our friends, along with their two adult children, did not know what to expect.  While only 90 miles from the U.S., we might as well have been 10,000 miles away.  Cuba is a spectacularly beautiful land in ruin with equally beautiful people, both inside and out; however, it lacks in the very basic infrastructures and a stable economy.  The needs are obvious at every turn.  Cubans are very industrious and make due with very limited resources.

Our mission for this trip was twofold.  First, we were tasked with helping to support Vacation Bible School.  Anyone whose ever been to VBS knows that one of the highlights of the day is craft time.  Our team had worked for months planning, ordering, packaging, and transporting the materials for these crafts.  More children attended this year than ever before.  We had 425 children each day and left enough supplies to support a total of 1,000 children to be served in subsequent VBS that are going on as we speak across Cuba.  Our second mission was to assist in the first-ever youth camp.  Prior to this year, VBS consisted of children ages 2 to 16 or so.  Last year, we found that the 12-16 year olds were not being reached effectively through this approach.  We proposed separating this age group and creating a new event for them.  So, while the morning consisted of VBS, the afternoon was filled with music, Bible lessons, sports competitions and dancing.  Yes, DANCING!  One of our team members had worked for a Christian camp in the U.S. and knew these great line dances set to Christian rap.  The young people loved it!  By the end of the week the whole group was dancing and enjoying themselves.  We had over 280 young people for the first youth camp.  For many, this was their first taste of church and Christianity.  Many gave their lives to Christ during this week. 

At the end of week, through the falling raindrops and teardrops, our van drove out of the encampment to the cheers and well wishes of the many kids who had been touched that week. Yes, there was much dancing that week, but nothing could match the dancing of our hearts in that moment!

God Bless,

Alfie Pino

GOD IS WORKING IN SANTIAGO

Santiago de Cuba is one of the easternmost provinces of Cuba.  A recent visit by our mission team, lead by Pastor Miguel Liceas, revealed how God is using ELNAC in tremendous ways to reach the lost and needy through out the province.

ELNAC has established 15 churches and 15 training houses in Santiago.  Training houses are small congregations that become mission churches as they grow.  More than 446 believers gather through out the region. Many of these meet in homes, while others meet in small remote locations.  Missionary sites, like “El Papayo”, are 53 miles from the nearest city.  Access to the outside world is limited, as there are approximately 4 miles of mountainous unfriendly terrain that isolate this remote village.

Our team had the joy of visiting with our missionaries, their families and congregations. Despite their obvious needs, such as Bibles, chairs and bicycles, our team found passionate people with a heart for reaching the lost.  Our missionary work in Santiago de Cuba focuses on building disciples who are then able to reach their communities. In order to achieve this goal, our team is developing a regional training center for pastors, missionaries and new leaders which will equip them and provide valuable evangelism and discipleship resources.

Our goal is to expand God’s work in other eastern provinces, particularly in areas with unreached people groups.  Much work remains.  ELNAC is committed to reaching every corner of Cuba with the good news of Jesus Christ!

Would you consider joining us in this adventure of faith! 

God Bless!

Empowering the Nations

 

WITNESSING GOD'S REDEMPTION IN CUBA

I bring you greetings this morning from Cuba, where I've spent the last several days.  It was my privilege to preach in churches, teach pastors and church members, and witness first-hand the miraculous work of God's Spirit on this beautiful island.  This was my eighth trip to Cuba; each time I go, I return inspired by the miracles I witness.

More than a million Cubans have come to Christ in the last ten years.  Many refer to the spiritual awakening going on there as the "Cuban miracle."  Churches are packed with worshippers; Christians share their faith openly and boldly; new believers are baptized despite the pressures they will face for making public their commitment to Jesus. 

In recent days, I've made reference to my conviction that "God redeems all he allows."  Several readers have asked me to explain what I mean by this statement.  Cuban Christianity is a perfect example of God's redemption at work, so let's discuss this vital subject in the context of their experience.

The Bible uses a variety of adjectives to describe God: he is love (1 John 4:8), omniscient (Psalm 147:5), omnipotent (Jeremiah 32:27), and so on.  But only one attribute of God is repeated three times: he is "holy, holy, holy" (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8).  In Hebrew culture, repetition was used for emphasis.  We might say that God is "holy, holier, holiest" to reach the superlative level; they repeated the adjective three times to achieve the same effect.

If God is the "holiest" being that exists, he must be perfect in every way (cf. Matthew 5:48).  If he is perfect, he can never make a mistake.  If he allows or causes anything in his creation which he does not redeem for a greater good, he has made a mistake in allowing or causing it.  Therefore, I believe that God's omniscience, omnipotence, and love require him to redeem for greater good all he allows or causes.

We may not see this redemption fully until we are in heaven, for "now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12).  However, sometimes we can see God's redemption at work in our present day, as with the Cuban revival.  The persecution faced by Cuban Christians has purified their faith and strengthened their commitment to Jesus, serving as a catalyst for their spiritual awakening.

During one of my first trips to the island, I told a pastor that I would pray for persecution against his people to lessen.  He asked me not to, explaining that their suffering had birthed their revival.  Then he confided that he and other Cubans were praying for increased persecution to come against America's Christians, so that we might be strengthened in our faith as well.

God redeems all he allows.  How is this conviction relevant to your life this morning?

Jim Denison, Ph.D., is founder of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a non-sectarian "think tank" designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth. 

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