A loyal listener of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s daily radio program in Cuba stepped into a church for the first time.
Maria del Carmen Ramirez, 51, told church members that she wanted to know more about the church that had provided her with hope and peace every day for the past 10 months.
She is the first radio listener from another faith known to have walked into an Adventist church in Cuba since the radio broadcasts started in August 2015.
“I had just lost my father, and I felt so alone and sad,” Ramirez said. “When I turned on the radio that afternoon, I heard the voice of the preacher saying that not everything was lost, that there is still hope after death. My life became brighter.”
Ramirez listened to the program over her shortwave radio in her hometown of Bayamo, located on the eastern side of Cuba, a nine-hour drive from the capital, Havana, to the west.
After a while, she wrote a letter to the Adventist Church’s Arcoiris Studio in Havana and soon after received an envelope filled with devotionals, magazines, and other literature. She wanted to visit the church and now wants to know more about the Bible.
Welcoming Ramirez as the first listener to visit an Adventist church on the Caribbean island is nothing short of a miracle, church leaders said.
“For many years it has been our dream to be able to broadcast messages through the radio, and now it’s a reality,” said Dayami Rodriguez, communication director for the church in Cuba.
Rodriguez said the radio broadcast was a blessing to listeners and staffers alike.
“Every time we receive a letter thanking us for the work, our hearts rejoice and we praise God for allowing us to share our grain of salt for His mission,” she said.
Listeners like Ramirez can learn of the gospel thanks to donated airtime by Adventist World Radio’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. The daily one-hour program, prepared by the Adventist Church’s Cuba Union, airs at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily from Radio Miami International SW1 5950 KHZ, in Miami, Florida.
Dowell Chow, president of Adventist World Radio, said that years of transmissions to Cuba had ceased after the closure of a radio station in Bonaire that had broadcast programs to Cuba. That prompted Adventist World Radio to conduct training sessions in Cuba several years ago, and local programming began to grow.
“We tried AM from the Dominican Republic, but the signal was weak and was only reaching a few spotty areas in eastern Cuba. So we decided to go shortwave,” Chow said.
He added: “I am so pleased to know that many do listen intently to programs produced by their very own people. This has been a very intense exercise over the last two years but it is paying great dividends.”
The broadcast began in August 2015, and plans are under way to install three new recording studios at the three church conference offices scattered across the island and fully funded by Adventist World Radio.
This will allow for more programming to be produced to compliment programming that Arcoiris Studios has produced for years. Arcoiris Studios is located at the church’s Theological Seminary in Havana.
“As long as we get programs from the studios [in Cuba], we will continue to air programs on shortwave until other opportunities become available,” Chow said.
The publishing ministries department of the Adventist Church in Cuba has set up a program in every church region in Cuba that allows interested listeners to receive literature on health, devotionals, and information about the church and its beliefs.
The Adventist Church has nearly 33,000 members worshipping in 440 congregations in Cuba, which has a population of 11 million.