HAVANA, Cuba (FBC)—What once might have been a long-forgotten musical instrument gathering dust in a corner is now an instrument of hope and evangelistic outreach in Cuba, thanks to the efforts of a partnership of Baptists.
As revival has been sweeping throughout Cuba and new congregations are being planted, one ongoing need has been for musical instruments to enhance worship experiences for Cuban Baptists. The Western Cuba Baptist Convention (WCBC), which has had a nearly 20-year partnership with the Florida Baptist Convention, has started at least 100 music schools across the nation to train worship leaders.
But time and again, the most daunting challenge has been the lack of musical instruments, according to Ana Esther Rodriguez, music director for WCBC.
“Music is critical in planting and sustaining churches,” said Dirce Cooper, who serves with the International Mission Board (IMB) in its missionary outreach in Cuba.
“The aim of Cuban Baptists is to share the message of Christ through music, while also encouraging musicians to use their gifts and talents for Christ,” she said.
The project, spearheaded by Mark Tetley, English-speaking pastor at First Brazilian Baptist Church of South Florida, was a cooperative effort of the Florida Baptist Convention, several churches in the state, the Western Cuba Baptist Convention and the International Mission Board.
After hearing of the need, Tetley led his church to coordinate the collection and shipment of not only musical instruments but also Bibles, another pressing need in Cuba.
“There is a dearth of Bibles in Cuba. There are house churches meeting in rural areas of Cuba that may have one copy of God’s Word for the entire group,” according to Kurt Urbanek, who serves with the IMB as a strategy leader for Cuba.
The project “took a long time to become a reality,” said Tetley, but “the dream became a reality as numerous entities cooperated together to make it happen.”
In mid June, a shipment of 170 instruments, 43 pieces of sound equipment, 10 boxes of sheet music, 5,000 Bibles (purchased by the IMB) and a pump for a new well at the Baptist camp left Florida enroute to Cuba. The Florida Convention provided half of the cost of sending the container by sea.
Instruments ran the gamut from numerous wind and stringed instruments to drums and even a harpsichord.
“This project turned into much more than what was first envisioned,” said Tetley.
On June 26, “the container with the Bibles and musical instruments, after two years of prayer, came to our country. We watched at all times God’s hand at work. Only our Lord can make things so perfect,” said Rodriguez.
“The grace of God has worked a miracle again,” he said.
So far, the instruments and Bibles have been distributed in more than 20 Cuban Baptist churches as well as missionary centers in each province. A few musical instruments needing repairs will be distributed as repairs are completed.
“We want to thank every brother and sister who helped, everyone who prayed and especially those who invested their resources to bring this blessing to our hands,” said Rodriguez.
As thankful as Cuban Baptists are for the gifts, pastor Tetley is grateful for the opportunity to be a partner in the project.
“This is one way for our church to let churches in Cuba know we haven’t forgotten about them.”
Betania Spanish Baptist Church, Miami
First Brazilian Baptist Church of South Florida, Pompano Beach
Hispanic Action Church, Miami
Idlewild Baptist Church, Tampa
New Jerusalem Spanish Baptist Church, Miami
Northside Spanish Baptist Church, Miami
The Church of Mojica, Miami
Trinity Spanish Baptist Church, Miami
Westside Baptist Church, Jacksonville
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