July 21, 2020

In Cuba, Adventist Church Celebrates ‘God-sent’ Shipment During the Pandemic

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division and Adventist Review 

When a paper shortage hit Cuba, the Seventh-day Adventist print shop was forced to close. Not being able to find paper anywhere on the island when the world began its lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, the church in Cuba was facing a serious problem.

Because access to Christian radio, television, and online programs is restricted or too expensive for most Seventh-day Adventists and the community in Cuba, printed Sabbath school quarterly lessons have become the most valuable resource to strengthen the study of the Bible among the membership, said Aldo Perez, president of the Adventist Church in Cuba.

Local leaders exhausted efforts looking for paper options outside of Cuba without success.

“We prayed about it, had made plans to inform the membership to begin studying the previous Sabbath school lesson based on the book of Daniel, and presented our situation to the administration of the Inter-American Division back in April,” Perez explained. “It was a very stressful situation.”

In the 1980s and 1990s, the church was forced to repeat the use of several quarterlies, but during more recent decades, the church had not faced such a dire situation, Perez said.

Because of the high cost of shipping, the Inter-American Division Publishing Association (IADPA) sends the quarterly materials to Cuba to be printed locally. The division pays for the printing in the church’s print shop in Cuba. The quarterlies are delivered to the conference offices, and local pastors pick them up and deliver them to their congregations.

When, on June 29, 2020, a shipment with 11,000 Sabbath school quarterlies for adults and children and pallets of paper arrived in the port of Havana, church leaders and members rejoiced at the sight of God’s answered prayer.

“This is like pure gold for our church here,” said Dayami Rodríguez, communication director for the Adventist Church in Cuba. “The church in Cuba had never seen such a high-quality quarterly and so beautiful.”

Local leaders received the shipment on July 6 and quickly moved to distribute the materials across the island.

“The church in Cuba is so happy today because it has seen the hand of God working yet another miracle in our favor,” Perez said. “Many have called our offices grateful that they can study this third quarterly filled with such important messages for the time in which we are living.”

Perez said that just the week before, churches had begun to partially open for worship services, and members are rejoicing in God's blessings. There are challenges still facing members in many ways on the island, but no COVID-19 cases among the members have been reported.

The church’s print shop will soon begin printing the fourth quarter’s lessons and make them available at the end of September. “Beyond that, it’s in God’s hands,” Perez said.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cuba has nearly 38,000 church members in 491 churches and congregations. The church oversees four conferences, a theological seminary, and a print shop.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.