The Journey in Receiving a 40-Fold Blessing

I traveled to Cuba for the first time in 2009, and January marked my 40th trip to support what God is doing through His Church in Cuba. Throughout this incredible journey, I encountered canceled flights, countless delays, and so many Customs inspections, to the point where I became recognized as a regular. I experienced diverted flights to the Bahamas, lots of lost luggage along the way, and faced questioning from Cuban immigration about suspicious items, including a baby stroller without a baby and thumb drives that were confiscated. On one occasion, a Cuban official searched for me with my photo as I entered immigration. Over these forty trips, our teams included 63 unique travelers and, with repeat participants, a total of 169 people who hauled in nearly 20,000 pounds of resources.

You can read about one aspect of this journey in our stories online. These narratives show how God is using His people in Cuba to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the conditions they experience by being obedient to His calling on their lives. The sacrifices made by pastors, missionaries, and their families for the sake of God’s Glory are both inspiring and convicting. However, there’s another aspect to this journey: the internal and spiritual journey God has taken me on during these 40 trips. These experiences shaped me as a Believer, challenged me as a Follower, and provided moments of Truth for Him to build my Faith.

Many moments have transformed me and my walk with Jesus. One includes being used to answer a prayer 12 hours after a pastor prayed to God for a solution. The pastor had no prior knowledge of our visit, and I was unaware I carried what they had prayed for in my bag. Another instance occurred when a pastor prayed for a blood pressure cuff and had no means of getting one. Several weeks later, we delivered one to him, unaware that this was his prayer and that of his congregation. The prayer was answered almost exactly how they had envisioned and matched what God put in our bags. Although the device I had was a newer model, this reminded me that He wants to use me right where I am. I just need to open my eyes. So, sometimes, the most transformative journeys occur without ever leaving home. 

I’ve also experienced personal growth through God’s challenges to walk by Faith. In Cuba, you don’t have much of a choice. A pastor can’t simply run to the local music store when a 40-year-old sound system breaks. He lives by Faith and remains very flexible when God asks him to move forward without certainty. Gasoline is a great example. Having access to fuel has never been easy and has always been an issue. Today, it’s worse. So, imagine being in the middle of nowhere, and that yellow light flickers on. Like me, you may pray for provision or go straight to an anxiety attack. When you pull up to the gas station, which looks closed, and a guy emerges to assist you, you are reminded God is in control, so give thanks! Then, when you only have enough gasoline to reach your destination, you trust that God will provide for your return trip. When He does, we praise His name! In many ways, walking by Faith goes against our cultural norms and certainly isn’t easy. However, by being in Cuba, where solutions to potential problems are scarce, the pastors push me forward in Faith that God has a plan for our journey.

If you want to learn more about Scripture, then speak to a congregation at a church service in Cuba. At first, it was easy as I shared testimonies of God’s work in my life. This was profoundly meaningful because I shared from the heart how God was shaping me. However, since I visit Cuba often, I ran out of stories to share, and God nudged me to take on Scripture. It was hard initially, but I realized you need to be obedient when called upon. Reflecting on when Peter was called in Luke chapter five, I have often skipped over so many lessons of obedience. We typically focus on Jesus’s declaration that Peter will become a fisher of men. However, numerous lessons of obedience are woven throughout the passage. Now, I prepare lessons to have in my arsenal, which has better equipped me to study His Word. I see things as they relate to God’s ongoing work in my life. Being in Cuba and speaking from the pulpit, I had to dig deeply into Scripture. There, I met the Holy Spirit, who showed me what to share on the journey through a passage.

So, 40 trips later, the journey has nothing to do with travel. It’s about the spiritual journey God has orchestrated for me in Cuba—a journey of drawing closer to Him, being a vessel for His glory, and receiving a 40-fold blessing!

– Wayne S.

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