This is a continuation of our June 2015 print cover story, Why Cuba? Why Now? At press time we were sent this statement from Pastor Amado. We wanted to post it so our readers can hear his story first hand.
Used with permission from Maranatha Baptist Church.
The full letter reads:
Dear brothers and sisters:
For many years our church has been holding its services and has welcomed hundreds of believers and non-believers in its current headquarters located on 298 Fomento St, between Marti and Luz Caballero streets, in the city of Holguin, Cuba.
In addition, we are members of the Eastern Baptist Convention of Cuba, a prestigious body with a presence of more than 110 years in Cuba and with more than 600 churches along the length and breadth of our country.
Our church has existed in this city for more than 82 years and is characterised by its work in moral and spiritual development in and outside the church, with a laudable testimony, an unprecedented missionary work and systematic work in maintaining homes and refuges for elderly, a Home for the Handicapped, homes for children without parental support and in the prison, where we have wanted to give our modest offering.
In all of these years, the administrative authorities have NEVER given us a warning or fined us for anything, they have also made no statement against the meeting of the faithful in the heart of our church, who sometimes number up to 800, with even more people involved in specialized programs, with our intensive and dynamic ministerial week.
We have not hidden ourselves to celebrate in the highest the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and thousands have been reached by the message of the gospel which transforms hearts and changes the human being into a different person. The most humble to the most intellectual people have walked through our buildings, receiving guidance, discipling and treated in the best way so that they leave with a new perspective on life in the face of a hostile world in which principles and morals are in complete decay.
It is necessary to note that on repeated occasions, the most recent being in July 2014, we have submitted requests to the appropriate authorities for a permit to enlarge and remodel the temple, with the aim of honouring our God even more, to beautify the city centre where it is located and to make it more comfortable for the hundreds of Cuban men and women who congregate here, as we currently have a structure that is both uncomfortable and hot, but which we love and for which we feel a complete sense of belonging, but the answer we have received has always been SILENCE.
All of the above in just a few words, to make public the sad, unjust and arbitrary news on the part of the maximum authorities of the Party and of the Government, who have now informed us of their decision to CONFISCATE OUR CHURCH, so that in some undefined way we will have to pay them rent for the right to use what is ours and with this they also deny authorisation to rebuild or remodel, which we had been requesting, as this tabernacle was built on the land of our property represented by THE AMERICAN BAPTIST HOME SOCIETY, which was registered in the Notary Registry (Escritura Notarial) number 29 on 4 May 1954 bestowed in the presence of Dr. Manuel Humberto Cuervo Sanchez, Lawyer-Notary Public of the Holguin College, which resulted in its inclusion in the Property Register in our City, in volume 89, folio 14, section 5325, 5th inscription, which all obviously took place before the triumph of the Revolution.
We believe these measures not only to be unjust and arbitrary, but to also flagrantly violate the most basic principles of religious freedom proclaimed by our Republic’s Constitution, in Article 8, in relation to Article 55 and which are echoed in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We ask all of you to pray for our country, to pray for those in our government, to pray for our church so that the Sovereign God of Heaven and Earth does JUSTICE. We have called our congregation to 40 days of prayer and fasting for this reason, in addition to days of intense worship, adoration and intercession before God in our buildings.
We do not accept this decision and we are counting on all your moral and spiritual support during this process. We ask you to share this message with all of those brother and sisters who worship and serve JESUS CHRIST in the length and breadth of our country as well as outside of it.
For these days of prayer we have chosen the section of Philippians 1:27-29 as our motto, the sacred song: God did not bring us here to take us back. And as our slogan: UNITED IN CHRIST FOR AN HOUR SUCH AS THIS.
In light of the above, we have decided to put forward in the attached document the names and surnames of the brothers and sisters of our local church, with their signatures, the Baptists churches and also churches from other denominations who have expressed solidarity with the position taken up by our church.
Christian people, all of our friends, those who have not believed but who accompany us in this experience, God protect you, sustain you and strengthen you.
WE PRAY, OUR GOD IS THE GOD OF MIRACLES.
Given in Holguin on 17 May 2015