About 17 years ago my wife and I met at a Baptist church in the village where we lived. We married 6 years later and began to preach the gospel in the rural areas of our country. We had favorable results during this time, but our thirst for the study of the word of God grew when we encountered the doctrines commonly called “Reformed;” it was as if we were “born again;” we spent entire nights studying the Reformed classics: Calvin, Thomas Boston, Edwards, Hoeksema, etc. A few years later we decided to leave our Baptist denomination to start a Reformed Church.
The Lord provided us with a passion for souls and a sincere desire to understand the human soul. In spite of the poverty that breathes in our nation we saw how people came to the true God, confused by the diabolic political system and helpless because of the false religion that still oppresses us today. Errors like theological liberalism, Arminianism, and Charismaticism accompanied by the Roman Catholic fallacy were the opiate that put the people in our region to sleep.
Process of adaption:
At first it was difficult to get ourselves involved in the ministry of preaching, since out of all the believers among our people we were a new sect; we were labeled “strange” because we didn’t take part in the pagan Christmas festivals, because we had a rigid system of regulated worship, because we didn’t have female pastors, and because our soteriology was so completely different from that of Arminianism and Charismaticism. Yet, the Lord’s hand was always on our side; many we persuaded; some we simply avoided. Our reading of church history and her stages—persecuted, established, medieval, Protestant Reformation, and even today—has helped us understand that our forefathers paid a high price to raise their pious teachings on high.
Time of harvest:
Today our church consists of the following community: 25 members, 23 congregants, and 15 children—63 total brethren. These brethren are spread in:
- Cienfuegos City: 12 members, 8 congregants, 9 children
- Santa Susana: 50 km (31 miles) from Cienfuegos City. 2 Members, 3 congregants, 4 children.
- Ajuria: 45 km (28 mi) from Cienfuegos City. 5 Members, 10 congregants, 3 children.
- Lajas: 40 km (25 mi) from Cienfuegos City. 5 Members, 2 children.
For each of the groups we have the following services:
- Cienfuegos: Prayer service – Wednesday at 8:30 PM; Bible study and worship service – Sunday at 10 AM.
- Santa Susana: Saturday 2:00 PM
- Ajuria: Saturday at 4:00 PM
- Lajas: Saturday at 8:00 PM
Purpose of the Church:
Our mission is to establish new Reformed churches by means of gospel preaching and Bible study, thus fulfilling the great commission to make disciples (Matt 28:19–20). Also we aim to influence positively the life of the members of the church by teaching them the directives of scripture: to live piously, to relate with others, to act Biblically in culture, in play, or in business, subjecting everything to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Our goal is to establish Presbyterian churches in every city in our province (8 in total), and then one in every province (14 in total).
Work of the Local Church:
Diorthosis, a monthly newsletter with subjects of interest and a spirit of developing debate and reporting on the life of the congregation. We also distribute classic Reformed Literature. (We have received permission from the publisher Faro de Gracia to publish some titles for Cuban pastors, since there are no Christian bookstores in Cuba and of those that come in from outside, much is lost in the mail.) We give out the DVD “Amazing Grace” or Sublime Gracia (with the permission of Cimiento Estable ministry), which teaches about the history and development of Calvinism. We evangelize in houses at least 3 days a week, and we visit the sick and other objects of grace. We have a seminary, John Knox Presbyterian Theological School, where we equip pastoral candidates and leaders who want to study. We have in total about 15 students in the country, who take classes such as Christ-centered Homiletic Preaching, Hermeneutics, Introduction to Theology, Progress of Dogmatics, and Marriage Counseling. We pray for books for our Seminary’s library, and that we can put up a classroom in order to hold traditional classes.
By God’s providence we were able to acquire our own place in Cienfuegos City, with the help of some brethren in Canada. The location is wonderful and sufficient for our church. We started two new congregations in 2013. In each, a teaching elder was ordained and a ruling elder is being examined. We have established a body of deacons as well as a local consistory in the church.
Needs of the Congregation:
Seating: the number of people in attendance has risen, and the seats we have are no longer enough. Resources: to buy Bibles and help some brethren who preach the gospel. Help with projects to reach the Cuban youth who are slaves of sin and marginalization.
We ask all who read this modest article to pray for our nation and its leaders; under current Cuban authority many opportunities are opening, and it is a good moment for the Reformed faith to be established and for the gospel to come to our nation. However, the torments of 50 years of intransigence and marginalization have left a wake of misery and dismantling, so that only with the help of interested brethren is it possible to start up ecclesiastical structures and systems. So far we have been helped by God and his providence, and that’s why we ask your help so that the Spirit who moved the churches of Macedonia and Achaia will revive in you the desire to help the saints, just as those early saints were pleased to help those in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26).
May God bless Cuba.
Pastor Joyce Álvarez León
Providence Biblical Reformed Presbyterian Church