Sat, Aug 13, 2011
I had the opportunity to meet with the pastor of Second Baptist in Las Tunas. He is the head of the Eastern Baptist Mission Board. He shared with me the church's vision and what they had been seeing over the past few years.
The term "missionary" in Cuba refers to a Cuban Christian worker. As of December 2010 the Eastern Baptist Convention had 1129 missionaries. Of this number 639 are serving part time. Of the 1129 missionaries, 680 are working with no salary.
The missionary effort of the church began in 1990. The denomination has set up missionary training schools to train these missionaries in church planting. This movement has grown significantly in the last few years. In 1998 there were no missionaries in Las Tunas. Today there are 118 in the province.
The Eastern Baptist Convention has a goal to plant 500 new churches before 2015. Last year 50 new churches were founded. They expect that 100 more will be planted in 2011. To accomplish their goal, the Convention, wants to train 200 new missionaries each year.
One of the training programmes the Eastern Baptist Church has established is geared to Cuban professionals who have the opportunity to leave the country. In this training programme, courses are offered in how to reach people of other religions and faiths.
There is a clear sense of God moving in this nation. Thirteen years ago there were only four Eastern Baptist Churches in the city of Las Tunas and 8 in the whole province. Today there are 17 in the city and a total of 48 in the province.
Leadership in this growing number of church is a significant issue. There are currently 154 churches in the Eastern Baptist Convention without a pastor.
Missionaries gather together on a monthly basis to report on their work. This is also a time for them to be encouraged. Speakers are invited to these events to preach or teach on subjects that would help the missionaries.
As a point of interest the president of the Denominations Mission board told me that one of the missionaries from the city of Camaguey was supported entirely by the children of the church.