Thursday, April 09, 2015

Three Reasons Why I Love Cuba

4 More Reasons I Love and Miss Cuba
It's been over a year now since I was in Cuba - my longest span since I started making 1-2 trips per year to this island nation about six years ago - and I miss her.  Or better said, I miss her people.  The good news is things are opening up.  More and more of my students and friends are showing up on Facebook, in my newsfeed or with a private message to ask how things are doing and when am I coming back.  All this has helped me understand some of the reasons why I love Cuba and her people.

1) Relational ties are valued - highly.  When you don't have a lot of "stuff" you tend to value relationships and the time spent together more. So the time spent over a couple of cafe helados from Cafe Escorial' at the Plaza Vieja is a treasure, a mutual investment of talking honestly about life and family and ministry. My Cuban friends remember details about me and my life, and ask me about them frequently, and because I've shared in the brokenness and struggles of their lives those relational ties only get stronger as time goes on. And let's face it, of all the stuff we invest in here, the only thing we take with us into eternity are people.

2) Their joy is contagious.  A friend recently messaged me about a Christian concert he attended on the island. Hundreds of people gathered to rejoice, worship and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in the open air.  He was thrilled at just having been there, and as we wrote back and forth, I found myself rejoicing with him and being grateful that he, and so many of my cubano brothers and sisters, had this opportunity.  For many of us a Christian concert by a virtually unknown local band is hardly something to rave about on FB, but for him it was a joyous highlight of his week and that joy rubbed off on me.

3) Their worship is authentic.  Over and over my Cuban hermanos have shown me their faith in God is strong in the midst of and to a large degree because of adverse circumstances. For them God is always God and always worthy of worship - regardless of what we may not have or what we may be going through. Several years ago I was talking to a pastor friend about the then potential opening up of Cuban-US relationships. At that point there were only small hints of what now is quickly becoming reality.  His primary concern was that greater openness would lead to greater affluence and ease of life and that believers would be sucked into the vortex of materialism and creature comforts and lose their passion for God. That's a legitimate concern and it would be heartbreaking for me should the bride of Christ in Cuba begin to lose the authentic, heart-felt, committed worship that she now has for her coming King and Bridegroom.

It's inspired me to pray for the people and the nation as a whole, and hopefully their worship, joy and value of relationships that has so filled my life will spill over from me into the lives of others.

4 comments:

Maria Luisa Hern'andez Quesada said...

Thank you so much my lovely brother. Cuba needs what you do here, we are so grateful God is using you to make Cubans blest in the truth of our common father. God bless you, we encourage you to keep doing the will of the Allmighty.

Joel B Groat said...

Gracias Maria Luisa - you all continue to inspire and encourage me!

Oliver Jones said...


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Joel B Groat said...

Hey Oliver - thanks for reading. Should have a new blog entry up soon.