Cuba GLS

Here's a post from the Willow Creek Association blog.

The Church is Not Forgotten in Cuba Posted: 14 Jul 2014 10:23 AM PDT

Earlier in 2014, Willow Creek Association was granted permission to work with local Cuban church leaders to present the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) in Havana on June 20-21. The impact of the GLS was immediate and powerful. One pastor said, “I have been a pas­tor in Cuba for 30 years. And this is the first time I have received any training. I’m sure this is true of everybody here.”

It is the vision of the Cuban GLS team to take the GLS to other cities in Cuba beginning with Santa Clara and Santiago. It is their desire to have GLS sites throughout the island, building up, inspiring, and equipping Cuban church leaders to change their country for Christ.

As we left Cuba, one pastor pulled us aside with a message he wanted us to bring home. “When you get home, please tell everyone how grateful we are that you did not forget the Church in Cuba. Sometimes we feel very alone here; completely forgotten. But you have shown us that you are thinking about us; that you remember us. Please tell everyone how thankful we are.”

Continue to remember the Church in Cuba, continue to pray for church leaders that the seeds planted at the GLS will bear much fruit and be a catalyst for change in this island nation.

Cuba Highlights

Here are some of my highlights from our time in Cuba: // Seeing the conference unfold. It was a historic moment.

One of the conference speakers was Craig Groeschel. I told this pastor he was the Cuban Craig Groeschel. Looks like him, doesn't he?

// Conversations around the table and in the hotel pool with the pastors Five Oaks brought to Havana from Santiago de Cuba and Santa Clara.


// A conversation with one of the pastors where he explained to me the incredible window of opportunity there is today in Cuba for the gospel, and his concern for what will happen to this opportunity if things open up and the economy improves. Several pastors shared with me their dismay over how many of the Cubans they know walk away from their faith after getting to the United States and experiencing financial success.

Pastor Ramon from the Santa Clara area standing next to me. Told me there are only 5 black people in his  whole town. Loved this guy. Great conversations on everything from evangelism to politics.

// Another conversation with a pastor who told me how closed off they were from the world until early in the 90’s. He said that one time when a pastor visited Nicaragua in the 1980's, he and several other pastors traveled 4 hours to Havana just to hear from this pastor what was happening in the rest of the world.

The pastor who told me this story is on the right.

// Visiting two of places my mom lived and one of the places she worked was one of my biggest highlights.

My mom lived on the 3rd floor, 305 Escobar, most of her childhood. I've heard stories about her childhood in this house all my life. Absolutely incredible to be there.

The last place my mom lived in Cuba (on the third floor). My uncle and aunt also lived with them here for their first year of marriage.

The Hotel Sevilla where my mom worked for one year after going to college in the U.S. It's right off El Prado, one of the most beautiful streets in Havana in her day.

// Discovering connections: Pastor Eddy and his wife Melisa are from Santiago de Cuba (14 hour bus drive from Havana). He directs the Baptist seminary and pastors a church. Melisa's sister lives in Key West and her brother-in-law pastors the Spanish speaking Baptist church there. So we contacted Mark and Jane Porter in Key West right away and YES, they know each other! Small world.


// We saw a lot on foot. Dave Baar, Lois and I walked the four miles of boardwalk (the Malecon) along the ocean in the heat of the day. But touring around in a 1955 Chevy “convertible” was incredible.

Dave, Lois and I with Mark Hoffman, a long-time member of Willow who helped make this conference happen.

// Looking at each other every once in a while and reminding ourselves that we were in Cuba!

A plaque at the hotel.