Freddy avoided looking down as he climbed higher and higher up the swaying treetop, some 60 feet off the ground.
Determined not to go home from the hunt empty-handed and unable to provide for his family, Freddy chased the evasive hutia up to the very tip-top branches. The hutia, Cuba’s largest endemic mammal, is a large tree-dwelling rodent that grows to two feet in length and can weigh up to 20 pounds. A live hutia can sell for nearly a month’s wage ($30) in Havana.
Hunting without guns requires strength and bravery. Focused on the hutia, Freddy chased the animal out onto smaller and smaller branches, high above the forest floor. Suddenly the limb supporting him snapped, and he plummeted more than six stories to the ground. Landing miraculously between two jagged tree stumps, Freddy found himself on the ground with a broken spine, several fractured ribs, and a punctured lung.
I immediately sensed that God heard my cry and that I was accepted and forgiven.
Two friends heard his falling cry and ran to help. Together they carried Freddy to the edge of the forest, where they summoned a horse cart. Traveling several kilometers on a cart jostled his broken spine and bones. Barely able to breathe with insufficient oxygen, Freddy passed in and out of consciousness. At the edge of a dirt road his friends appealed to a driver of a farm tractor with a cart to take him to the nearest paved road, where an ambulance could pick him up.
Despite several operations over the next eight months, Freddy lost his ability to move except to shake his head. With a crushing sense of his loss, Freddy knew he could no longer care for his family, pursue the hidden dreams of his heart, or even be a normal man. Freddy cried, becoming angry, bitter, and ultimately depressed. He thought about his life and past. He remembered his mom taking him to church as a boy. He remembered the stories from the Bible that engaged him and spoke of such a powerful God. Could they be true?
The more Bible stories he tried to remember, the more Freddy wondered if the Author of those miracle stories would listen to his own painful story. What do I have to lose? he thought. Alone one night in a Cuban hospital bed without chaplains or counselors, Freddy cried to God, asking for faith to believe in Him and asking for forgiveness for the years of unbelief.
Freddy states, “To my surprise, I immediately sensed that God heard my cry and that I was accepted and forgiven. I felt a peace I had never known. I asked God to take all of the remains of my life and . . . to give me this one thing, the presence of Jesus in my heart.” Freddy continued, “From the moment I invited Jesus into my heart, I knew I had made the right decision, as hope and energy returned to me. The next morning I asked to be placed in a wheelchair in a sitting position, and rejoiced at how well I did. The following day, I asked to be taken to the new church (WYG plant—see bio) in my town. I went joyfully and had no pain. In fact, my pain is totally gone now. I don’t need any more pain medication. I am now moving my arms and beginning to get a little feeling in my lower extremities, and I know it is because of God.”
WYG’s medical missionary/Bible worker (MM/BW) couple in the town began applying treatments to Freddy’s bed sores and studying the Bible with him and his wife. Recently Freddy; his wife, Annibel; and eight of their friends were baptized. Freddy declares: “Yes, I’m an invalid. I can’t chase hutia and do the things I once thought important, but I’ve never known the happiness I now know. With all I am, I am grateful God saved my life, allowing my testimony to impact many who are now studying the Bible with my pastor and giving both my wife and me the joy of eternal salvation!”
“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11, 12). Thank you for keeping Cuba in your prayers.
This story first appeared in the ASI magazine, Summer 2020.
Henry and Arleen Stubbs founded ASI organization World Youth Group Inc. (WYG), which trains—and supports—medical missionaries to plant churches in unreached regions of Cuba. Get involved at: worldyouthgroup.org.