When I think about Cuba, so many things come to mind. There are so many things that I can talk about. I can talk about the incredible passion of Cuban people and their infectious and desperate love towards God. I can tell you so many stories of faith that I heard from these people who literally have to rely on God every day to provide for their needs.
But I think what I really want to share with you is why I decided to go to Cuba on the first place.
My Cuba adventure began in October 2015. I was attending a Sunday morning service in my home church (Kingsview Community Church, Hamilton) listening to a guest speaker, Pastor Gary Empey, sharing about his ministry in Cuba and about an upcoming short term mission trip. I remember my heart beating faster and faster and the Holy Spirit quietly whispering in my heart "You should go." But I also I heard other voices, the voice of Rational Mind and the voice of Common Sense. These voices were telling me it wasn't a good time to go on a missions trip: I had just started experiencing some health issues, I would never be a belt to take time off work, I couldn't afford it financially. Not to mentioned leaving my family for a week!!! And then I felt an enthusiastic tap on my knee and heard the rather loud voice of my daughter saying "Mommy, I really think you should go!"
And I went!
I never envisioned myself as a missionary to another country, but being the "child" of someone else's mission work myself, the mission field always had a very special place in my heart.
I was born and grew up in Belarus which at that time was one of the republics of the former Soviet Union. I was brought up in a family of devoted members of the Communist party and as a child I was taught that religion and faith were poisonous, and that Jesus was a fictional character created by uneducated people who were too weak to handle the challenges of life.
I first heard about Jesus as a Savior who could change people’s lives when I was a teenager in the early 1990s. I heard it from people who were willing to leave their home countries, their families, their work and come to Belarus to tell me about God's love. The Soviet Union collapsed just a few years prior. Belarus gained its independence, religious laws were loosened and the borders were opened up to a number of North American missionaries. I clearly remember the day when one of my classmates told me that there was a group of Americans gathering in a school building every week in the evening. She said these Americans were giving away potatoes for free and that they were also talking about Jesus. As a newly-established country, Belarus was going through a period of severe deficit – the stores were empty. Each family was issued special coupons by the government that allowed us to go to a store and buy food, but very often we couldn't use the coupons because there was no food to buy. The fact that someone was giving away potatoes with no coupons required and for free was a good enough reason for me to go to one of those weekly gatherings.
As I was listening to missionaries' testimonies about their love for Jesus I could see so much joy and freedom and purpose in their eyes! I knew they had something that I didn’t have and I wanted to know more about it. That day I prayed and asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. I was looking for free potatoes, but I found a living God instead. My life has never been the same.
The relationships that God allowed me to form with some of the missionaries that I met in Belarus as a teenager have lasted for many years. Through these relationships God allowed me to have the real family that I never had, family that was often physically far away but that was close spiritually, family that was supporting me over the past 20 years, through good and bad.
I know the reason that I am where I am right now is because of the men and women who were simply obedient to The Holy Spirit when he whispered to their heart "Go"
I knew from my own experience how powerfully God can use those who are obedient to Him. That Sunday morning it was my tern to say to be obedient to His call.
Ever since my first trip to Cuba in April 2016 God has been opening doors, connecting me with churches in Cuba, and little by little revealing to me how I fit into His plans. You can read more about my current and past projects by exploring the Cuba page on this website.