Pop and Mom Willey, pioneer missionaries to Cuba from 1940-1960, along with several Cuban believers they met there, laid the groundwork for the ministries in Cuba. In 1942, the newly-planted churches formed the Cuban National Conference. After the Revolution, led by Fidel Castro, the Christian community faced some very challenging years. On August 2-8, Clint Morgan and Kenneth Eagleton attended the 80th Anniversary Celebration of the Cuban National Conference. Originally, the celebration would have been held on the seminary campus, but because of the current fuel shortage in Cuba, which has made it very hard for people to travel. It was decided that they would instead have seven regional celebrations in different provinces. Each service lasted three to four hours with two sermons per service and special music, poetry, and drama presented by different churches
But what Kenneth and Clint both saw and experienced was a Church that is growing and impacting the country for Christ. The attendance at each service was impressive although there were several churches that could not acquire transportation and did not make their regional meeting. The churches were jam-packed for nearly every meeting – the estimated total attendance for all the services was approximately 1500-1600 people. There were some amazing songs, pantomimes, poems, and testimonies. The services were amazing, with wonderful music, encouraging preaching, and thankful and enthusiastic people. The theme for the 80th Celebration was ’80 years of victory in Jesus.’ In each service, they sang ‘Victory in Jesus’ in Spanish, and on one occasion the song leader led the attendees in singing a verse in English.
Both Kenneth and Clint had the privilege and joy of speaking at seven different regional meetings. They attended the first regional gathering together and after that, they were sent to different locations to preach along with a Cuban pastor and two visiting pastors, one from Miami and the other from Uruguay. The travel was a bit challenging…but they made it to every regional meeting, except one. Together, they traveled well over 600 very fatiguing miles but arrived each time without any flat tires or breakdowns – that is a lot to be thankful for!
Clint shares that one of the most moving moments was at the service held at the Cedars of Lebanon Bible Institute. The leader of the meetings asked for all those who were present who personally knew Pop and Mom Willey and had been with the original church plant for at least 80 years to come forward. There were six people present who fit into this “elite” category. (see the photo below) The lady in the wheelchair was with Pop Willey when he locked down the Bible Institute in 1958. He and Mom Willey left to go Stateside to raise money to build some new buildings for the growing institute. Later, the Revolution began and they were forced to leave the country in 1960 and the Bible Institute remained closed until 1983.
Pop Willey died in 1968 and Mom Willey passed in 1998. Sadly, Pop never got to see the construction of the new campus. On Thursday, Clint shared that he witnessed the graduation of 23 students from the Bible Institute. Three of these were awarded master’s degrees. We think it’s safe to say Pop Willey would be pleased with the success of the Institute. But, even more so, we believe Heaven is rejoicing at the souls being led to Christ by the believers in Cuba.
Life is tough for the Cuban people…but, their commitment to Christ is first and foremost to them and we believe the Church will continue to grow and expand throughout the country and perhaps even to the ‘uttermost’ parts of the world.
Please join us in praying for the Cuban people. They are facing one of the worst economic crises right now with shortages of electricity, fuel, food, medicines, and all basic necessities.