I’m so happy to share a small slice of Cuba that I know.
I would say the burning desire to see Cuba, for me, began about 6-7 years ago. I marveled at the thought of a country in this day and age still living under communism. I was perplexed that the Castro regime had total control of the country since 1959. I imagined what life there was like, how people lived day to day and the curiosity of knowing a land that the United States had an embargo against really got to me.
I began trying to understand as much as I could about Cuba. I started following Cuban “political dissidents”, independent journalists, following all the news I could. I’ve probably read and watched more documentaries than I'd like to admit.
I "googled" how God was moving in the island, and I learned that the government officially renounces ANY religion and for a long time prohibited the practice of it. I really wanted the people of Cuba to experience the joy and freedom in Christ that I had discovered, regardless if their government allowed it or not. Despite politics, Cubans still practiced religions in secrecy. I had even read about revival in Havana where huge groups of youth were praying for their nation, publicly, and were supernaturally protected from police and military.
In around 2011, one of my teachers was a student in Cuba and had been to the island many times. She decided to come back to Washington State with a piece of Cuba – their religion. I asked her many questions about her time there, the people, and ultimately wanted to know more about the religion she practiced, called Santeria. During the time I was her student, she was devoted to becoming a priestess.
When I learned more about Santeria, my heart’s cry for Cuba grew larger. In brief summary, Santeria is the religion that African slaves brought to the island. But
because of the time of heavy Catholic influence during that time, they were not allowed to practice their African religion, and began using the names of Catholic saints as a guise to pray to their deities. While in Cuba, our guide explained that approximately 80% of Cubans practice this religion. This is what really drew me in to praying for Cuba.
The country continued to grow on me, a nation I’ve never known. I asked fellow healing rooms team members to pray with me, prophecy over the land, and started questioning friends to make plans to go. As a Canadian-born citizen, I asked any Canadian I’d ever known if they would be willing to travel with me, since the travel embargo didn't apply to us. I even asked some brave (American) healing rooms staff if they would be willing!
Seeing the conditions of public hospitals, the constant oppression and persecution of the people, the rationed food system (and very obvious lack of food and basic medicine), all the Castro propaganda, no liberty to practice faith and the amazing capability of the Cuban people to press on – this all had a part in captivating my heart.
I wept as I learned young children were often "pimped" into prostitution, often by their school teachers. Parents would give permission for this as a means to bring income to their family – I learned the sex-trade was very common in Cuba.
I kept searching for groups of people or missionaries who had the same passion I did, and nothing quite clicked, until one day.
John Crowder, Sons of Thunder ministries decided to coordinate a mission to Cuba. The light bulb was electrifyingly bright!! I absolutely love the message that John carries, the anointing he has to share about Grace, and the freedom in Christ that brought me out of so much bondage and suffering in my own life. I knew it was a perfect match!!
I applied, and being in the financial circumstances I am in, I knew If God wanted me there – He would provide. And He DID! Thanks to the prayers and support of my Healing the Northwest Ministries team, that was my first miracle of the trip before it even started!!
The enemy pulled out all the stops in my journey to meet with our team in Miami, FL. My first flight I wasn’t able to take because the plane was switched with a smaller one that booted 32 passengers, myself included. I made the choice not to stress, trusting God wanted me there in Cuba, and I was able to get a flight with a different airline and a good price shortly thereafter.
Then upon arriving late evening in Florida to meet the team, my hotel didn’t have my name in the reservations, only my roommates, a person I hadn’t yet met. Thankfully, we figured that out. Next morning, as we were all checking in on our charter to Cuba, they made my reservation with the wrong last name. With visas and traveling to Cuba still being rather difficult, it took some time to press this out – but praise God, He DID!
A short 40 minute flight later, I landed in Cuba with our team of about 30. It was a dream come true, to lay hands on the nation I had been praying for!! I have to admit I hardly slept the entire time I was there, because of all the anticipation and expectation.
Our first day we spent visiting a few home churches, worshipping, and laying hands on pastors who were running churches out of their tiny, very humble homes. The presence of God was so strong!
After the home church visits, we ended up in a Baptist church where John was scheduled to preach. Pastors and missionaries from all around Cuba came to visit and attend this Pastor’s conference that John spoke at. If you have been to any event with John present, you may know the message he carries may cause spontaneous laughter, joy, and all sorts of glorious supernatural outpouring. Our team was a joyful bunch, absolutely plastered on the love of God and overflowing with the Holy Spirit!!
John said for us to get a fire tunnel rolling. It was amazing, people were being loved on and we enjoyed prophesying over people who started to nod, cry, smile and offer huge spontaneous hugs.
Little did we know, the interpreter and church pastor was asking for us to all sit down, and not continue with the fire tunnel. But obviously, God had different plans - None of our 30 team members even heard them asking us to put a halt on it!
So, afterwards we got to spend some time in fellowship with the people as John got a little “talking to.” John said the pastor was so kind, and really enjoyed the message – but obviously haven’t seen a move of God quite like that yet. Amazingly enough, we found out later that we were invited to come back to the same church the next day, if only we could "contain ourselves." The consensus of our team was that this had to be all very new to Cuba, and that we didn’t want to quench the message God had for the church, so we went back the next day a little more quiet, but God still doing amazing things.
After the next day’s service, we had lunch and fellowship with the pastors and their families. All I can say is what beautiful, pure hearted and loving people Cubans are. We talked a lot about what God was doing in all of our countries (our team members where from around the world) and they shared their difficulties of spreading the news of the Gospel on their island. I believe that will be changing, and I have for a long time!
Later on, our team began to break into smaller groups and did some street outreach. All of the team members brought tons of candy and chocolate from the US (as these things are near impossible to find there) and had such a great time meeting people of the community, praying over people in the city and blessing the kiddos with yummy treats. A team member happened to bring his guitar with him, and we had such a great time just singing with children and seeing big smiles on their faces.
As God was leading our small street team, he led us to the public health administration where we got to meet a few doctors and administrators who shared with us about their country and people they cared for. It was such a joy to meet them and pray blessings over those who serve their community.
Later in the evening our team went to dinner and on our way back to the hotel, a man saw our group admiring a building. He told us all about the building, then began to share with us the hardships in his life. Being homeless with his ill mother, malnourished, losing his teeth, and killing a couple people out of desperation. Without asking for details, he told us he wasn't a Christian because he was nothing but a lowly sinner and was trying to get his life back on track and do right after a long time in prison. He began to walk with our team and continue to express his unworthiness and self-hatred. It had to be the highlight of the trip for me, as our team got to blast him with the love of Jesus, proclaim the truth of who he was, bless him financially and his entire countenance changed over a very short time. When our team decided to head back, I asked if he would like to receive Jesus in his heart and he got down on his knees in the middle of the street and cried, exclaiming YES and called us his brothers and sisters.
Other team members had also shared some amazing encounters. One gentleman, who said he had lost all hope and love in his life, spent some time with our group and had felt restored!
An amazing woman on our team blessed him with a thumb drive of some great teachings to support him in his journey.
Another team member made it a specific mission to find a priestess of Santeria. Everywhere he asked, no one would lead him to one - and many people told him to stay away. Eventually, he got to meet a priestess and love on her with a huge hug, kind words and blessings!
Some other favorite moments were taking taxis into town and back to the hotel, sharing words of knowledge, and praying for healing and blessings. One of our drivers had a broken hand with several pins. Our team had tons of words for him that he confirmed, and we prayed for complete healing as he was about to have his cast taken off the next week.
It was so fun to share food, clothes and toiletries with the staff in the hotel as well! One housekeeper had a smile from ear to ear overflowing with gratitude about all the family she could share some necessities with. If you didn't already know, often times it is difficult to buy clothes for many reasons; one being the average salary of around $30 a month, the other being that basic necessities, even with having money on hand, can be extremely difficult to come by. If you can imagine this: I was not able to find one single banana in our hotel, in the restaurants, or any of the stores close to our hotel... on a tropical, banana-growing island!
I believe God did put the nation of Cuba on my heart for a reason. I am so thrilled because I really do believe Cuba will see a huge revival. Restrictions on many things are starting to get some wiggle room such as practicing religion - although be in prayer for Cuba as some of our team was repeatedly circled by police while praying for a woman in the street.
Our president's recent visit will hopefully encourage some more liberties the people are so desperate for.
The highlights of this mission were simply sharing the love God that he has for his people. So many smiles and hearts touched. Also having the most awesome team to minister with was a total joy!
My heart's desire is to go back to Cuba again (and hopefully again!) It was a blessing to me to be able to help translate for some team members, and a blessing to give the words that God had for so many people, and to be a part of what God has for the island.
Thanks for taking the time to read about the mission, a huge thank you to everyone for their prayer and support, and if this has touched you in any way - I would encourage you to go on a mission as well! Or at the very least, pray for a nation that really needs it.
Blessings to you and yours!!