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News on The 700 Club: March 21, 2016

As seen on "The 700 Club," March 21: Obama aims to bury the hatchet with Cuba, CBN goes behind the scenes with 'The Passion,' and more. Read Transcript


Hey, we begin a new week.

I'm so happy that you are with us.

We're going to have a terrific program.

We've got a story from China that

will warm your heart you don't want to miss.

But in the news, for the first time in nearly 90 years,

an American president has set foot in Cuba.

He's trying to rebuild relations between our two countries,

and after they've been hostile toward one another

for more than half a century.

Critics say Cuba is still abusing

the human rights of its own citizens,

but others say the time has come to open

the doors between the United States and the island nation.

Gary Lane has the story.

GARY LANE: President Obama is the first US president

to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

He's hoping the historic visit will

jump start a new relationship between the United States

and the communist nation.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And it's a historic opportunity

to forge new agreements and commercial deals,

to build new ties between our two peoples,

and for me to lay out my vision for a future that's

brighter than our past.

GARY LANE: But only hours before he arrived in Cuba

and toured Old Havana with his family,

police clashed with human-rights protesters.


At least 50 demonstrators were arrested.

Mr. Obama plans to discuss human rights when he meets

with President Raul Castro.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz

tweeted support for the Cuban people

and criticized the visit, writing in "Politico",

quote, "Political prisoners languishing in dungeons

across the island will hear this message: nobody has your back.

You're alone with your tormentors.

The world has forgotten about you.

There will be no mojitos at the US Embassy for them.

Raul Castro denies their very existence."

And GOP presidential front runner Donald Trump

says he supports a new relationship with Cuba,

but suggests President Castro should have greeted

the president when he arrived.

There was nobody there to greet him.


Folks, what are we doing?

What are we doing?

What are we doing?

Now, here's what-- here's how a thing like that

is supposed to work, number one, he

has his people call up say, who is going

to be greeting the president?

If they say nobody, you don't go until somebody is there

because you don't want to look like a fool.

GARY LANE: But not everyone is critical.

American Alan Gross, released from a Cuban prison a year ago,

told me the president's visit is a courageous move.

You sat in a prison cell for five years.

Is it the right course?

Well, absolutely.

If we had had diplomatic relations 55 years ago,

50 years ago, 45 years ago, six years ago,

I might not have had to forfeit five years of my life.

The whole idea of constructive engagement

helps to avoid circumstances like this.

And people who are critical of the process

that we've recently gone through really

need to take a look at that.

GARY LANE: President Obama's visit

will conclude Tuesday with a televised speech

to the Cuban people, attendance at a baseball game,

and a possible meeting with political dissidents.

Gary Lane, CBN News.

It's interesting he will not be meeting with Fidel.

I don't know if Fidel Castro is too sick

or they just don't want to get together,

but that's another snub in a sense.

Well, what about the church in Cuba?

Is it suffering from oppression or is it free to grow?

Wendy Griffith has that story from our CBN Newsroom.


Thanks, Pat.

That's right, the president's visit

comes at a time of renewed optimism in the Cuban Church.

It's been enjoying some relaxed restrictions

and it's hoping for fruitful partnerships

with American churches Heather Sells brings us the story.


HEATHER SELLS: Thousands of Cubans worshipped recently

in a two-night, open-air rally in Santiago,

Cuba's second largest city.

Total attendance for this location and another

in Havana, 25,000.


Even more remarkable, the Cuban government allowed it.

In recent months, the government has increased its arrests

of political dissidents, so organizer Steve Cordon

considers these events a miracle.

You have to do everything literally by faith,

because you are not sure if they are going to approve or not,

the visas, the permissions for the places,

and anything can happen.

HEATHER SELLS: What did happen, an outpouring

of the Spirit as people worshipped,

listen to the teaching, and came to faith in Christ.

More than 1,400 came forward.

STEVE CORDON: When we see so many people

giving their lives to Jesus, that's

the first and main fruit.

HEATHER SELLS: Worship 24/7, which sponsored the event,

also distributed 30,000 bibles, so important in a country

where they are not easily found.


Cordon says believers are planning

to launch a small Christian magazine and Christian music



He was encouraged to see a younger generation

with new ideas for what can be done

in a country where the church has

suffered so much for decades.

STEVE CORDON: Because I see that they are starting dreaming,

that there is new hope, that they are getting the tools,

they are being empowered.

HEATHER SELLS: Veteran missionaries

say Cuban believers are also cautiously

optimistic about working with American churches

thanks to the easing of US travel restrictions.

They would really love to have church-to-church partnerships

where people could come down and help them start

agricultural projects and other micro businesses that

would allow them, not only to meet their own expenses,

but also to do the community outreach

that they're dreaming of doing.

HEATHER SELLS: Stewart and other missionaries

caution that Americans should approach Cuban churches

with great respect.

In many ways it's the Cuban Church

that could teach the American Church as a global expert

on church planting and evangelism

in the midst of extreme hardship.

Heather Sells, CBN News.

Thanks Heather.

Well, here at home the story of the Passion

came to the streets of New Orleans

in a live television musical.

It was broadcast last night on Fox for Palm Sunday.

The all-star cast included musical greats

like Trisha Yearwood, Michael W. Smith, Yolanda Adams

and Chris Daughtry.

Filmmaker Tyler Perry narrated the modern-day recreation

of Christ's final hours on Earth Our Efrem Graham

brings us the behind-the-scenes look

at this remarkable production.

EFREM GRAHAM: It took more than 1,000 people

to turn this New Orleans park into a television stage.

And despite days of rain and chilling temperatures,

all was ready at show time.


Tyler Perry returned to his hometown

to help share the story of Christ's final hours on Earth.

How does it feel to be back home doing this?

It's really exciting because I tell you,

there's no better backdrop than New Orleans

because it literally rose from a liquid grave,

so to have this story being told of the Resurrection

in a town that was resurrected is powerful to me.

Had it not been for my mother teaching me

about the old rugged cross, and teaching me about Jesus,

teaching me about Christ, I don't know where I'd be.

I really don't know where I'd be.

It was a compass, it was a guiding light.

Still to this day-- because I'm getting chills thinking

about it-- to this moment, I know for a fact

that I've been changed because of what she's taught me

and what I know about Christ.

The live, two-hour production has

been two years in the making and live means

there's only one shot to get it right

for the hundreds gathered around me

and the millions watching at home,

We poured a lot of passion into it

and I think it comes through in the arrangements.

We really care about this.

It's not just another project for us.

EFREM GRAHAM: Adam Anders is the man behind the music.


Popular songs with new lyrics to introduce the more than

2,000-year-old Passion story to people who've never heard it

and refresh it for those who have.

You're the man behind "Glee", as far as music goes,

you just said that you're doing "Dirty Dancing" as well.

Where does this project fit in in your wide career?

This is the pinnacle.

Honestly, to me, this is the highlight of my career.

it's emotional for me because it-- you know,

I grew up in the ministry.

My parents are ministers.

For me to have this long career I've already had

and really feel and see that everything

I've been through in my life, everything

I've done in my life and career to this point,

have led me to this.

EFREM GRAHAM: Adam hopes this is the start of a television

tradition, traveling to a new city each year

with new music but the same message.


JENCARLOS CANELA: And we truly want

people to understand that this message is beyond the word


You know, the word God is way bigger than the word religion.

You can have a personal relationship with God.

We don't need society or tradition or anyone

to tell us how that relationship should be.

EFREM GRAHAM: And that's the reason for the cross.

Efrem Graham, CBN News, New Orleans.

Thanks Efrem.

And you can find more of Efrem's behind-the-scenes coverage

of "The Passion" including more of his interview with Tyler

Perry on

And Pat, that was just fascinating and so amazing

that that was happening in New Orleans.

PAT ROBERTSON: It's amaz-- well, Tyler Perry

is one of the most unique figures in entertainment today.

He's a multi-talented guy who just brings forth story

after story after story and they all seem to be a hits,

so he's on top of his game.


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