For first time in over 50 years, it is safe to openly share the Gospel on the streets of Cuba. When Neila Betancourt and her team went prayer walking in Santi Spiritus, she met a woman named Maria and told her about the local church.
Maria wanted to know more. Then Neila told her about Jesus, and Maria heard the Gospel—perhaps for the first time.
Being from New York City, I don’t see horses very often. So when my team started walking down the country road in Cuba and I saw horses in the next field, I squealed and pretty much made a fool of myself. Thankfully, my teammates were patient with this city girl.
When they pulled me away from the horses, we all walked down the streets full of colorful homes. Everything seemed pretty silent until I stopped to say hello to a few kids sitting outside. After introducing myself, they all seemed pretty intrigued by us.
Before I knew it, my team and I were walking down the street with a crowd of about 12-15 kids gathered around us. They asked tons of questions like where we were from and how long we were staying.
As I spoke with them and asked them questions, I noticed the cutest little dachshund waddling past me. Because there are so many stray dogs in Cuba, I knew better than to pet just any dog. But when I saw the cutest little lady following behind this even cuter dog, I asked if it was hers and she said, “Yes”.
I leaned in to pet my new little dog friend Suzy. Too bad Suzy was not at all friendly. She was too scared of this super smiley New Yorker chasing after her to pet her than anything else. So I settled with not petting her and began to speak with her owner, Maria.
After a few introductions, Maria asked us what we were doing in Cuba. I shared we were working with the church just up the street. Because it is still illegal to have or build churches in Cuba, the Cuban people turn a portion of their homes into a church. When I pointed her in that direction, she wanted to know more.
One thing led to the next and I asked her if she had ever heard of Jesus Christ. As she leaned in closer, her eyes full of questions, she shook her head no.
Without hesitation, I told her how Jesus died on the cross and three days later He rose again to show her that not even death could impede His love for her. I told her how Jesus wants to have a relationship with her. As she listened intently, I felt how much God loved this woman.
It was in that moment, I knew God strategically placed me on that road, on that day, in that hour, that Maria might know Jesus’ love for her. He set up a divine appointment that Jesus would divinely intercede from the throne through me. I was so humbled to know the truth of Romans 10: 14-15 which says, “’How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!‘”
God sent me so Maria would know Him. That is the good news of the Gospel; the faith of Maria in that moment activated the power of the Gospel.
When I asked Maria if she wanted a Bible, she eagerly said yes. I asked my leader Mark for a Bible and helped her understand it a bit. With my leader’s suggestion, I told her to start reading in the book of John and she agreed.
As she was getting ready to leave, she made me promise her I would come back to her home for coffee. Two days later, I walked up to her home and called out, “Mariaaaaa!,” she welcomed me inside.
It was then I saw Maria’s Bible on the couch, opened from where she’d been reading it.
Now I’m back home in New York City, thousands of miles from Cuba. I know I might not see Maria again on this earth, but I believe I will see her again one day. I believe God will use His Word to draw her closer to Him.
I’m humbled to have been a small part of Maria’s story. The truth is, God used her to touch my heart in such a profound way that I understood the power of God’s love for you, for me, and for the entire world.
For first time in over 50 years, it is safe to openly share the Gospel on the streets of Cuba.
Next year, we’re sending 8 teams to Cuba to partner with and encourage the local Church in sharing the love of Jesus throughout the country.
CLICK HERE to find out how you can GO on a 2017 spring, summer, or fall trip to CUBA!