In Cuba, people learn from an early age not to believe in God. Marxism-Leninism and other philosophies that deny the existence of God are taught in schools, and idolatry, witchcraft and magic are promoted as ‘culture’, stimulating an environment adverse to Christianity. Despite this, la Iglesia Metodista en Cuba (IMC – the Methodist Church in Cuba) has been growing at a rate of around 10% a year since 1999.
The Church has 416 churches, 930 missions (churches in training) and more than 1,000 cell groups (small congregations that meet in houses). “It started with a cell group that met in the house of a church member,” says Bishop Ricardo Pereira Díaz, President of IMC. “The National Church trains lay leaders to evangelise and establish these cells. When a cell group grows to more than 20 people, it is converted into a mission and the lay leader becomes a missionary. A mission has the structure of a church, but doesn’t have the required number of baptized ministers, which is 35-40.
Once a mission reaches this number, we search for a house that can be converted into a church. That is how a new church is born. The missionary then becomes a probationary pastor.”
One of the biggest challenges the Church faces is getting into areas of the country where the gospel of Jesus Christ is not present. Churches have been encouraged to adopt the remote places where there are no churches. A lot of evangelism and discipleship work has been done in these areas. The result of all this was a mass baptism that took place in Holguin, uniting four districts (North Holguin, Central Holguin, Las Tunas and Sierra Maestra).
In total, around 1000 people were baptized. “This glorious event was a record in the history of the Methodist Church in Cuba since its foundation,” Bishop Diaz said.
This story originally appeared in World Church Bulletin.
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