Seventh-day Adventist leaders in Cuba have not been able to connect with church members as anti-government protests have escalated across the island nation.
“This is a situation without precedence here,” Aldo Joel Pérez, president of the Cuban Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, said. “We need strength from God, for we are living by faith.”
The protests, which began on July 11, 2021, resulted from power outages, continued lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the scarcity of food and medicines.
More than 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported each day, and the number of deaths continues to increase. Many members have been infected with COVID-19, but most have recovered. Pérez said that since 2020, five church members have died from COVID-19. Churches remain closed, and union and conference administrative offices only recently resumed limited office hours, Pérez shared.
There is currently no internet service across the island. The internet is the main form of communication between church leaders and members since it is used for worship, prayer, Bible studies, and the circulation of important information.
“I know that our country is very disturbed amid the challenges the nation is facing, but God continues to strengthen His church during difficult times,” Pérez said.
The scarcity of food, rising food prices, and lack of medicines have caused leaders to mobilize their members to pray and fast more fervently, especially during the past two weeks, Pérez reported. “Days ago, a family member of one of our leaders at the union office was hurt in an accident while he was riding his motorcycle. He went to the hospital, and there was no pain medication. Hospital staff took parts of the ceiling material to use as a cast for his fractured knee.
“There are no antibiotics, no syringes either,” Pérez noted. “One neighbor came asking for any medical assistance and, thanks to a container that had arrived from Andrews University, we were able to give him some aspirin.”
Regardless of the hardships experienced, Pérez said, God is working miracles among His people. For the past two Saturdays (Sabbaths), prayer vigils have taken place across Cuba. On July 10, the entire church on the island took part in fasting and prayer, and many in Spain and the United States joined them to pray for peace, protection, and increased faith.
Pérez has been able to communicate with the leaders in the four church conferences on the island only through landlines or mobile cellular lines. “Many of our church administrators are having difficulty reaching district pastors in their territory since yesterday [July 12],” Pérez shared, “so we continue to encourage them to keep us informed so we can continue to pray and address any needs that we can.”
The Adventist Church in Cuba has more than 100 district pastors who lead approximately 345 churches and oversee 2,000 small groups.
For years, the church has enjoyed good relations with the government, Pérez added. “We continue to ask our members to keep safe and not engage in political issues but to fully support the people of Cuba through prayer.
“God is sustaining us with His hand, and we solicit the prayers from all our brothers and sisters in the Inter-American Division and around the world, so we don't feel alone and see God's work in bringing peace and reconciliation to our nation,” Pérez said.
There are many people who want to help and send assistance, Pérez said, but crying out to God as a family of Seventh-day Adventists around the world for strength and protection is the best anyone can do at the moment. “We are all affected not just in the church; our whole nation needs prayer, so we appreciate all the prayers and fasting on our behalf.
“The kingdoms of this world are temporary, and we must get ready for the eternal kingdom that God has prepared for us,” Pérez said.