Friday, October 12, 2012

Cuba: The faceless enemy

Pastor Carlos, along with many other
Cuban Christians, has faced persecution
for his faith in recent years.
You can read his story here
Much has been written and said about the new season of openness for Christians in Cuba. But those who are able to speak freely say that the persecution is still there, though it is now better concealed, reports VOM-USA.

Since the government redefined Cuba as a “secularist” nation from an “atheist” nation in 1992, evangelicals have experienced an era of tolerance, where they meet without permission, but are largely ignored by the government. As an example of this tolerance, one church of around 1,000 members has given birth to 18 independent house churches. These new congregations range in size from 300 to 700 people.

But while few Christians have gone to prison for their faith in recent years, the Cuban government still mistreats, marginalize and openly oppose Christians, especially those who live according to their Biblical convictions.

“The persecution now is a closed persecution; it’s hidden,” said VOM’s field worker. Another Christian worker on the island characterized it as discreet. “The pastors tell us they have an enemy without a face. They aren’t confronted directly. Sometimes they don’t know who has infiltrated the church [to inform on them],” said the VOM field worker.

One Cuban pastor said, “Don’t be fooled by appearances. Many brothers won’t speak about this because of fear. If they speak out in Cuba, there will be consequences. They’ll be expelled from the country or falsely accused of being counterrevolutionaries.”

Another way the persecution appears is through the lack of Bibles on the island. There has not been a Christian bookstore on the island for 53 years, and Bibles are only imported through churches that are members of the Ecumenical Council (an association of churches that collaborates with the government and includes only 10 per cent of all churches).

Christians are also often denied rights and opportunities. Christians are let go from jobs, or not allowed to apply for a certain status of jobs. The best jobs are awarded to Communist Party members. Children are required to renounce Christ and embrace communism in school. Christian young people are often not allowed to graduate from high school or enter university.

Is there persecution in Cuba? Certainly, it is less than before. But many of God’s servants on the island experience daily the truth about persecution in Cuba. The enemy of the gospel may be better hidden, but he is still there. God’s grace sustains them hourly as they confront the faceless enemy.

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