Living in the Moments
We can all look back on moments in our lives that changed us; moments that awakened our souls to something new. I had one of these moments in May when I had the opportunity to go to Cuba for the first time. I have traveled all over Latin America and have even lived there, but there was something special and unique about Cuba. The people of Cuba have been oppressed under the dictatorship of Fidel Castro’s government for the past 50+ years. But in the midst of hardship, the local church has grown and many have come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In lieu of Castro’s recent death, I believe the church has even more opportunity to grow.
It was a privilege to visit a place where few Americans have had the chance to visit. It was even more of an honor and a privilege to see and experience the Cuban church first-hand and to meet Otoniel Martinez, who is the director of “Sembradores,” a UWM partner ministry. He also recently became a UWM missionary.
After a great week in Cuba, I had to say goodbye to new friends, including Otoniel. I think that is one of the hardest parts about traveling. You develop new friendships quickly and then have to leave, unsure. A few months after returning from Cuba, I was excited to find out that Otoniel was invited to come to Charlotte share his story at UWM’s missions celebration event! I was told that I would be translating for him. My initial response was excitement, but then the fear set in. I typically don’t get nervous speaking in front of people, but translating, especially Cuban Spanish, in front of 175+ people suddenly sounded very nerve-racking.
In the days leading up to the event I felt a knot in my stomach just thinking about it. It really humbled me and reminded me that I would not be able to do it alone; that I needed to depend on God and trust He would use me and speak through my translation. I knew Otoniel had such a powerful testimony to share and the way God is moving in the Cuban church is so encouraging, so I really wanted to make sure I communicated that well. Just minutes before taking the stage, I felt the Lord calm my heart and gently remind me that He was in control and His spirit was at work in that place, regardless of my abilities. Praise God Otoniel did a great job and my translation was about 98% accurate (I forgot one word).
It is impossible to hear the stories from Cuba and not be encouraged as believers. The resiliency and faith of the Cuban people is inspiring. For me, Otoniel sharing was one of the best parts of the celebration event. His story reflects the unconditional love and pursuit of God for all people, despite their lack of resources or their circumstances. I blessed to be a part of the work God is doing in Cuba through UWM, and I pray we can continue to find ways to share the stories of God’s people around the world.
By: Callie Fulton, Mobilizer for Latin America