Seventh-day Adventist leaders in Cuba have not been able to connect with church members as anti-government protests have escalated across the island nation.
“This is a situation without precedence here,” said Pastor Aldo Pérez, president of the church in Cuba. “We need the strength from God, for we are living by faith.”
The protests, which began on July 11, are a result of power outages, continued lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the scarcity of food and medicines.
More than 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported each day, and the number of deaths continues to increase. Many members have been infected with COVID-19 but have recovered. Pérez reports there have been five church members that have died of the coronavirus since last year. Churches remain closed, and union and conference offices only recently resumed limited office hours, said Pérez.
There is currently no internet across the island. The internet is the main form of communication between church leaders and members, used for worship, prayer, Bible studies, and circulating important information.
“I know that our country is very disturbed amid the challenges the nation is facing, but God continues to strengthen His church during difficult times,” said Perez.
The scarcity of food, rising food prices, and lack of medicines has caused leaders to mobilize its members to pray and fast more fervently, especially during the past two weeks, said Pérez. “One neighbor came asking for any medical assistance, and thanks to a container that had arrived from Andrews University, we were able to give him some aspirin.”
Regardless of the hardships experienced, Pastor Pérez said God is working miracles among His people. For the past two Sabbaths, prayer vigils have taken place across Cuba. On Sabbath, July 10, the entire church on the island took part in fasting and prayer, and many from Spain and the United States joined in to pray for peace, protection, and increased faith.
The only way Pérez has been able to communicate with the leaders in the four regional conferences on the island has been through landlines or a mobile cellular line. “Many of our church administrators are having difficulty reaching district pastors in their territory since yesterday, so we continue to just encourage them to keep us informed so we can continue to pray and address any needs that we can,” said Pérez.
The church in Cuba has more than 100 district pastors who lead about 345 churches and oversee about 2,000 small groups.
For years, the church has enjoyed good relations with the government, added Pérez. “We continue to ask our members to keep safe and not engage in political issues, but to fully support the people of Cuba through prayer.”
“God is sustaining us with His hand, and we solicit the prayers from all our brothers and sisters in Inter-America and around the world so we don’t feel alone and see God’s work in bringing peace and reconciliation to our nation,” explained Pérez.
There are so many people that want to help and send assistance, but Pérez said that crying out to God as a family of Seventh-day Adventists around the world for strength and protection is the best anyone can do at the moment. “We are all affected, not just in the church; our whole nation needs prayer, so we appreciate all the prayers and fasting on our behalf.”
Pérez concluded, “The kingdoms of this world are temporary, and we must get ready for the eternal kingdom that God has prepared for us.”