Do You Have
Building the Family
Translated by Jeff Turnbough
In Cuba, as in the United States and many other countries, the culture does not encourage strong, healthy marriages and families. In the following article, one Cuban church leader tells how Cuban Free Will Baptists seek to prevent cultural norms from negatively impacting thousands of people within the Cuban church.
In 1998, the National Convention of Free Will Baptists in Cuba created a commission with the goal of building and strengthening Christian families. From that time, we began an annual retreat for married couples. During this annual retreat we provide workshops, counseling, messages, conferences, testimonies, and recreational activities. Each facet of the retreat is executed with the goal of strengthening Christian marriages. The attendance has increased each year, from 20 couples the first year to 60 couples in recent years.
Attending the retreat is difficult in the Cuban context because of the economic challenges for most families, transportation, etc. Yet, we have seen God provide in all the details for these meetings, which in and of itself has served to edify couples and families.
In February 2010, my wife and I were chosen to head this commission. Recognizing that lack of participation by married couples in the central and eastern regions of the country was due in large part to economic limitations, we decided to hold similar meetings in each region. We began in 2011 by organizing the first meeting in the central province of Ciego de Avila followed by another event in the eastern province of Camaguey in May.
Because follow-up with these married couples was something we simply could not do with an annual retreat, we also began organizing district and county meetings featuring lectures and workshops. These local events provide a way to equip couples in diverse areas such as biblical foundations of marriage, roles for couples, sexuality, communication, dealing with conflicts, finances, and so on.
In Local Churches
One objective of this commission is to provide every local church with these same resources. A leader in each church, under the leadership of the pastor, will meet with married couples each month, minister to their needs, and endeavor to connect them with the national work. This way, we are able to work with every interested couple in our churches. Today, several gifted and equipped couples are serving in this capacity. It is our prayer that we will see the fruit of our labors in stronger marriages and families. Also, we hope these leaders will help in the work across our country. As someone has said, “Local churches or a nation will be no stronger than the families of which they are composed.”
During the 2013 annual retreat, we will incorporate subjects and workshops to involve people from our men’s, ladies’, and single’s denominational departments (or commissions). We anticipate 500 brothers and sisters for this meeting, which is a significant representation of the 400 married couples and 5,000 members in the Free Will Baptist National Convention of Cuba. This is a big goal for us. We share it with you with the request that you support us with your prayers.
Across Denominational Boundaries
Because of the high divorce rate and marital problems throughout Cuba, we want to take our ministry to Christian couples outside of our denomination, to the entire Christian community in Cuba. In spite of the challenges and work involved in this ministry, marriages saved and relationships strengthened encourages us.
I remember the testimony of one married couple that visited us from another province. Their pastor told us they decided to divorce the day before we met with them. But God intervened, and today their marriage is restored. They are serving the Lord in their local church! We have been blessed to see many marriages receive help, both in our churches and in churches from other denominations. These experiences have demonstrated to us the great need that exists among Christian couples in Cuba.
A gap in knowledge about what the Scripture teaches often causes problems and conflicts. We have experienced the truth of Jesus’ words: “And you shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” Because of this, one of our goals is to teach biblical truths not only to married couples, but also to young Christians of dating age, so they are prepared to face marriage with more knowledge and spiritual maturity.
We end by giving God thanks for allowing us to serve Him in this area of ministry. The first and most blessed by this ministry is my own marriage and family. We are also grateful for all the brothers, sisters, pastors, speakers, Cuban, and non-Cuban friends God has sent our way to help us economically and spiritually. Thanks to this help, we have been able to continue advancing.
We ask you to continue supporting us with your prayers, so that we can reach and help many other married couples and families. So many need this type of edification. We give God the glory He truly deserves.
About the Writer: Raúl and his wife were chosen to head the commission for marriages by the Cuban National Convention in 2010.