My Life in Cuba

“My Life in Cuba” by Anyoly Rivera de Figueroa (translated by Sherry Winters)

      THE CHALLENGE      The road to Cuba was truly a challenge!  Some friends and brothers called and wrote asking me to cancel the flight and change the date for the conference in Cuba since a hurricane was headed there.  But I simply told them, “God is in control!”  The plans for the conference had been made, and since we didn’t expect the hurricane to come early, we started the conference on September 7th. Then on the 9th we had to finish early and send the ladies home since the hurricane had already entered Cuban territory.  150 ladies were anticipated at the conference, but we ended up with 78 instead.

The Christian sisters remained very animated; and I received an invitation for January 2018 to assist with the Moms in Touch (Madres Unidas) in their country.  The presentations were motivational and led the ladies to establish goals which would lead them to grow and please God in their lives.  Their faces indicated the joy of peace which refreshed their souls.  We had three speakers from the Dominican Republic, one from Colombia and another from Holland.  They are passion-filled women for God with a desire to serve the Lord.

There also was a young lady named Fabiana who has been asking for two years already to accompany me to Cuba.  For reasons beyond her control I told her we would pray that God would open the door for her.  This young lady assisted us with every need which confronted us.  In fact, she was my right hand in all matters.

One of my desires was to be able to assist with the decorations, the coordination of the program, and the music.  With the help of the Lord, all of this was possible thanks to the creativity of our Heavenly Father who brought marvelous ideas to our minds.  In addition, the ladies were impacted by the paper flowers which we brought and even requested that we give them a workshop on the creation of these handicrafts.  Since resources are scarce in Cuba, this was a great blessing for me personally.  Oh, our Lord glorified Himself!  And that is not the end of His blessings!

We were very confident that we’d all return to our respective countries on September 11th.  But God changed our plans!  Due to the hurricane, we were unable to depart as planned.  There were many problems with the airport’s runway due to the strong winds of the hurricane.  Well, God had other plans for our lives.  Our “vacation” provided us the opportunity to share the gospel to other needy people.

     OPPORTUNITY   –   Four Extra Days

      Thanks to God and His great mercy, when we returned to the airport, they gave us a great welcome!  We then returned to the homes that had given us lodging earlier.  We were a bit unsure whether we’d have to stay in the airport.  However, God’s grace is so good that Pastor Vladimir’s wife, Mariela, and Dona Ester welcomed us with open arms and explained that we had things yet to do that week.  We could share the gospel with a lady who was grieving the recent death of her husband two months ago due to an illness and complications.  So, between Denice from Colombia, Ester (who provided us lodging) and another servant of the Lord we decided to visit the widow to pray with her.  She was so obese that she could not move about freely, but after our visit she became encouraged and came to the house where we were lodging.  She arrived alone.  We were preparing to visit other ladies who are separated from the Lord. Then as we were leaving to visit the ladies on Tuesday afternoon, several problems and situations arose.  As we remained in our lodging, some women came to visit us and requested prayer for a son who did not believe in Jesus.  And to our surprise, that evening the son came to visit us in our house and we shared the gospel with him.  This boy’s mother was so encouraged that she decided to attend church again.  Glory to God!!  Another opportunity we had was to visit 8 or 9 ladies in Havana with whom we shared Lamentations 2:19. We encouraged them to continue praying for their children and their schools.  We prayed together and exchanged ideas to implement in their respective groups. Then we also visited the congregation of our brother and sister, Angel and Ester (the couple we stayed with).  About 600 people attend this church each week.  We had a great time!  They are very open to maintain a relationship and are praying that the next ladies’ conference will occur on September 17-24. 2018 in their church.

Another opportunity was as the lady leaders shared devotionals each morning.  One day we had the theme of the assurance and safety we find in the Word of God when storms enter our lives.  Another morning the scripture was Psalm 119:105.  “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  During our situation, I could clearly see the hand of God giving us victory over our lives and the Cubans’ as well.

 VICTORY   And the victory which God gave me during the days we were in Cuba was huge!  I do not regret having been in such a gray moment, filled with rains and storms.  Because as we were sharing the gospel, we were filled with life experiences with Jesus Christ.

In the morning of September 7th, this meditation began to speak to me before the hurricane and caused my hair to stand on end. But at the same time, I felt the Lord’s peace!  I identified greatly with that devotional as if I could see what would transpire in Cuba.  But I simply prayed and trusted!

“The wind pounded the windows fiercely.  The whole house shook from side to side!  Darkness filtered through the cracks, and the roar continued to increase. According to the scene, it was only a matter of time before the river would overflow its banks which would destroy everything in its path.  The news reports had warned about electrical storms and suggested preparing.  But when the moment of need arrived, the emergency lights and auxiliary lamps were not charged, the flashlights had no batteries, the matches and lighters were buried in water which entered through the windows.  With each passing moment not only did the water rise, but my fear also increased.  The most terrifying fact was that during the storm, darkness visited me and I didn’t know where to go.  I froze without being able to even move.  I remained awaiting my death.  I asked myself more than once, “How can I flee? Where could I escape to when the darkness would surround me. How could I leave the storm when I was completely covered in darkness?”

Verse 105 of this precious psalm was one of the first ones I had memorized as a little girl.  And my mind played with the image of the dark night during a relentless storm.   And the idea which used to rise when imagining this scene was always the same.  How to escape the storm once the darkness surrounds one completely.  We will not be able to avoid the weather conditions.  Certainly, we will all be surprised more than once by storms which threaten to destroy us, dashing our hopes forever.  But if we allow God’s Word to advise us, surely, we’ll have enough light at our feet to guide us in the darkness. Nevertheless, today many commit the mistake of waiting until the rain arrives.  And as a false prevention they store some small emergency items which supposedly will help when the lights go out. But sadly, when the inevitable, unrelenting storms attack, they’ll realize that two little candles were not sufficient.  The batteries only have a short life span, and there won’t be ample time to acquire flashlights nor lamps.

Today in the faith market we have many options which supposedly give us light, but they are fleeting lights with a short-lived duration. They are false glimmers which are the first to be extinguished when the floods come, leaving one in complete darkness and without direction.  But those prudent women who have lit the light of God’s Word in their lives will be comforted by the words of the prophet Isaiah. “Now they won’t need the sun to shine during the day, nor the moon to shine at night because the Lord their God will be their perpetual light.  He Himself will be their glory.” May the Lord illuminate you with His Word, in order that even in the darkest of nights you will be able to live as if it were bright daylight.

PRAYER:  Lord, set me free from the dangers which storms can cause in my life. Illuminate me with Your Word even when everything is totally dark around me. Amen.

I am grateful to the Lord for choosing me to share with our Cuban fellow Christians. This time was a huge victory!!  And my desire is that the Lord would use me as an honorable vessel to glorify His name wherever it may be.   Acts 20:24

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

Blind Faith

Blind Faith

Every Christmas at my house growing up there was one thing I could always count on that I would receive for Christmas. Socks and underwear. My mother was very practical and Dad didn’t involve himself in the Christmas buying process.  If it was not for my Aunt, I would have never gotten any toys for Christmas. I loved Hot Wheels, those little cars were so cool and they worked.  Give me some of that orange track and a blue 1969 Camaro and I am happy. However, it was always socks and underwear.  The closest I got to a Hot Wheel was when I played with my cousins and they had boxes of Hot Wheels.

I could not imagine what it was like to open a box and see something fun, something, anything but socks and underwear.  But, it was not to be, in my tender years. So, I saw Christmas as a need holiday not a wish for, holiday. When my Aunt would give me, Christmas presents it made my parents so mad. I don’t know why but it did. So, when I grew older and married Charlotte, she would buy me stuff, stuff I did not need. Wow! What a concept. Thanks Char!

Now, Christmas, my birthday and Father’s Day are a wonderment.  What is in the box or bag?  Always something I may need or may not, but always exciting and always looking forward with blind faith to what was inside. In a lot of ways all my Christmas’s were good for me,  it was all good because I learned to appreciate the gifts received from both my parents and my wife.

Blind Faith, what is it for us here at TIME. I thinks it is “Faithful anticipation to what God has done for TIME: Past, Present and Future”.  Let’s remember, to God there is not tomorrow, yesterday or today. Only a beautiful panoramic view of all time. A seamless story of lives and events woven together and beautifully arranged to bring Him glory. Blind Faith is traveling on a good road, made for good living and all engineered by a loving boss for us to travel, sight unseen no roads maps.

Can you picture it?  All the open doors you and I have walked through.  All the roads we have traveled some smooth, some smoother, some as smooth as silk.  But always a smooth road, if we have Blind Faith.  If you or I see, our world, the world or any other world other than God’s world. If we are not blind to everything else other than God’s world, then worlds will collide causing doubt and that’s not blind faith and our roads become rougher and all doors look open.

The hard part of our faith is the blindness. Trusting God for our very existence, trusting that God gave that same existence to others around us. Having blind faith in them and for The Christ in them. Praying for and anticipating the best in someone else regardless of how it affects you,  that’s faith. Blind Faith is trusting in what God is doing inside the hearts and lives of others regardless of what you see.

Imagine each morning you wake up, and you are holding a beautifully wrapped box. A box for you. Inside that box is something prepared for you. Something that is going to benefit others. It’s not socks or Hot Wheels, it’s a beautiful new color, it’s fresh air, its kindness. Not meant for you, it’s for others. Inside that box, Its Christ, breathing life into you. Life to share, Gods colors to color His world.

God does not call us to blind faith to believe in Him. He gave us the Holy Spirit. He sent Jesus to provide the faith. It does take blind faith to believe and act. Acting and believing in Gods beautiful painting of your life, needs your blind faith. So many of you have taken this step of faith for yourselves. Now take those same steps for others.

Give grace, supply time and support in love.

Fe ciega
cada Navidad en mi casa creciendo había una cosa que siempre podía contar con que recibiría para Navidad. Calcetines y ropa interior. Mi madre era muy práctica y papá no se involucró en el proceso de compra de Navidad. Si no fuera por mi tía, nunca hubiera conseguido juguetes para Navidad. Me encantaron las ruedas calientes, esos pequeños coches eran tan guay y trabajaron. Dame un poco de esa pista naranja y un Camaro azul 1969 y estoy feliz. Sin embargo, siempre eran calcetines y ropa interior. Lo más cerca que llegué a una rueda caliente era cuando jugaba con mis primos y tenían cajas de ruedas calientes.
no podía imaginar lo que era abrir una caja y ver algo divertido, algo, cualquier cosa menos calcetines y ropa interior. Pero, no iba a ser, en mis tiernas años. Así que vi Navidad como una necesidad vacaciones no un deseo para, vacaciones. Cuando mi tía me dio, regalos de Navidad que hizo que mis padres tan loco. No sé por qué, pero lo hizo. Así que cuando crecí y me casé con Charlotte, me compraba cosas, cosas que no necesitaba. Wow! Qué concepto. ¡ Gracias Char!
ahora, Navidad, mi cumpleaños y el día del padre son una maravilla. ¿Qué hay en la caja o en la bolsa? Siempre hay algo que pueda necesitar o no, pero siempre emocionante y siempre mirando hacia adelante con la fe ciega a lo que había dentro. En muchas maneras todas mis Navidades eran buenas para mí, todo estaba bien porque aprendí a apreciar los regalos recibidos tanto de mis padres como de mi esposa.
la fe ciega, lo que es para nosotros aquí en el tiempo. Pienso que es “anticipación fiel a lo que Dios ha hecho por el tiempo: pasado, presente y futuro”. Recordemos, a Dios no hay mañana, ayer o hoy. Sólo una hermosa vista panorámica de todos los tiempos. Una historia sin fisuras de vidas y eventos entrelazados y bellamente arreglados para traerle gloria. La fe ciega está viajando en un buen camino, hecho para la buena vida y todo dirigido por un jefe amoroso para que nosotros viajemos, vista invisible ningunos mapas de las carreteras.
puedes imaginarlo?

Todas las puertas abiertas que usted y yo tenemos a pie


{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

Big Things

“When I think I’m not doing a big thing, God reminds me that He can use whatever or whoever to accomplish His plan.“

I was not born in a Christian home. While I was growing up, I remember that my parents had a lot of disagreements, things that I didn’t understand at that time because I was just a kid. More than once my mom, my sister and I moved into my great-grandparents house.  We used to stay there for a couple months and then go back to my dad’s house, but there was one time that we ended up staying there for 5 years. I got really close to my great grandparents and learned from my great-grandma, who was a Christian.

When I was six years old my cousin, Elupina, took me a couple times to a Bible Club that the Igleisa Bautista Quisqueyana IBQ church had on Saturdays for kids.  I didn’t like it at the time. I preferred to be around my parents and would cry to go home. A couple years later, when I was 9 or 10 years old, my neighbor  invited me to a Bible Club and I said yes. When got there I realized that it was the same Bible Club that my cousin used to take me to!  But now, being a little older and without the same attachment to my parents, I found that I liked being there.  That very Saturday I came to Christ and started going to church.

At that time I remember wanting to learn how to play guitar. Within a couple of days after I made my decision for Jesus I found out that they were teaching music at church (and it was free!) This is the only way I could have been able to pursue music classes because my parents didn’t have the money to pay for them or to buy me a guitar. I jumped at the chance and started going to church every Tuesday to take music classes. I would wait for other students to finish their class so I could borrow their guitar afterwards and take my lessons since I didn’t have one of my own.  I learned quickly and a year later the Pastor gave me a guitar of my own. I remember being so excited, it’s something that I will never forget.

After that, I found that church needed someone to learn how to play viola, so I was like “Oh well, let’s try”. So, I started to play viola on Sundays at church with the worship team. I also found out that I can sing a little bit so I also began to sing at church sometimes (which is crazy cause no one in my family can play an instrument or sing.)  It’s so cool that God called me to His ways through music.

It was through the church, also, that I came to know about Time Ministries. I met Crismery, who asked me about being a volunteer in the summer of 2014. Looking back on it, I’m not actually sure why I said yes, because honestly I used to think that work with Americans would be weird (not sure if I was concerned about the language differences or what, it just seemed weird.) So the summer of 2014 was my first-time working with Time Ministries and even though I didn’t know English, I mean none at all, I loved the experience! When it was time to go home I didn’t want to leave!

After that experience I got more information about TIME Ministries and they told me that I could probably work with them the next summer as well so in the summer of 2015 I returned as a summer intern with TIME. It was the hardest summer ever in my life! I mean, I’ve never worked like that before, it was tough. Also, through the whole summer my great-grandpa was sick and eventually passed away, so it was even harder time for me. However, God was and is too good to me, always faithful even when I am not. So I did the internship again in summer of 2016 and then at the beginning of this year I moved here to continue work with TIME.

I’m now about to start college and I’m going for advertising. I’m helping JC with the marketing, as well as with worship and the groups. Right now, I’m living here at the building for a year so and at the end of this year I will need to make a decision if I’m doing the next 2 years of internship. Please keep praying for me about that and please pray for my family.  My mom and my sister accepted Christ 2 months ago and that’s awesome! It’s hard when you’re the only Christian in your family, but I’ve been learning and I’m still learning how to trust God and wait on Him.

I could keep talking  more about how God has been working on me and how blessed I’ve been through TIME Ministries, but the thing that I have discovered that this is actually more than missions, it’s also about changing lives, and not only others people’s lives but my own as well. It’s about bringing hope, building relationships that last forever, and seeing how God can use people to impact the lives and eternities of others.  When I think I’m not doing a big thing, God reminds me that He can use whatever or whoever to accomplish His plan.

“I know that everything God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of him.”

-Aniel Gomez


{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}