HAVANA, Cuba -- Cuba's Baptists recently gathered in Havana to celebrate more than 100 years of ministry. In spite of limitations under the Castro government, they're committed to continue planting new churches.
For Havana, an unusual sight was upon them. Hundreds of Christians were streaming into one of the city's largest churches for the 101st Western Baptist Convention.
Believers celebrated their achievements and unity, and featured Cuba's younger generation, an encouraging sign for the future of the Cuban church.
Baptist leaders challenged delegates to keep on growing the church, using activities targeted at children and other strategies to plant new congregations in western Cuba.
"Yes, we have experienced ministries in other places and provinces, where a children's club or Bible class has later become a place where a church was started," said Program Coordinator Abby Sanchez,
Dr. Victor Gonzalez, the president of the Western Baptist Convention, believes Cuba is entering a time of spiritual revival.
"I pray to the Lord that each of the brothers and representatives in this assembly can leave singing the vision that this is the time of revival and planting churches in Cuba," Gonzalez said.
Historical photographs and documents reminded delegates of Baptist growth over its 105-year history in Cuba. And long-serving members received special recognition. A Sunday School teacher was also honored for 50 years of service. Foreign visitors joined the assembly, including Dr. Luis Becerra, the Colombian Consul.
"I sometimes ask myself what really is changing Cuba and there's no doubt that it's the people of Christ," Becarra said. "Today's message was perfect. It taught us that while we reflect that living Christ in our lives we are going to change Cuba, and I feel like a Cuban!"
And for Baptist believers gathered in the Havana convention agreed -- the best change for the island, is to win Cuba for Christ.
*Original broadcast April 17, 2010.