One of my takeaways from traveling to Cuba had to do with the Cubans’ practice of Santeria and how it is a big hindrance for them in accepting Jesus and living a life centered on Him.
Santeria encompasses sacrificial food, song, dance, costumes, spiritual deities, and the use of artifacts. It was imported from Africa, primarily with the enslaved Lucumi people who were brought from Nigeria in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We learned from our host that the practice is today very prevalent, and many people in Cuba mix Santeria with Roman Catholic practices. Our host told us that for many years he practiced Santeria, prayed to satanic demons, and witnessed horrors as well as supernatural occurrences related to Santeria. His bed once levitated off the ground! Fortunately, he later recognized the lie that Santeria is and accepted, Jesus.
When I thought of my life and the culture that I live in, Santeria, idol worship, praying to demons, etc. are not even a minor distraction or impediment to Christian life. Instead, the impediment that I deal with that the Cubans do not is materialism.
It doesn’t take long for a casual observer in Cuba to witness the poverty of the people – the queues at the bread stores, the lack of meat in their diet, the crumbling infrastructure and, even though they have access to physicians, the lack of medicines. All this and more is in stark contrast to the relative wealth and abundance that we enjoy in the U.S. Our wealth is a blessing, yes, but it is also our distraction. Our constant longing for “more” crowds out and distracts us from seeking God and serving Him.
It strikes me that Satan uses whatever lies he can to keep us from Jesus. To the Cubans he mangles and confuses worship, making himself its object. To us, he distorts prosperity to make it a religion in itself. Satan is, of course, like a “roaring lion, seeking to devour” every human being. He is the “father of lies.” The lies he tells Cubans are different from the lies he tells me but lies nonetheless. My prayer is that God would give us each discernment and wisdom so that we would know truth and His good and perfect will.