From January 21-24, 2020, Open Bible Churches of Cuba celebrated 70 years of ministry. The event was hosted by Templo Evangelico de la Biblia Abierta, an Open Bible church in Guanajay, Cuba, with hosts David and Rebecca Moreno, our Cuba field directors and pastors of the host church.
The theme for the celebration was Nuevo Comienzo (New Beginning) and included a reenactment of the founding of the Open Bible Church in Cuba with young people and children playing the parts of the first Open Bible missionaries. Participants were treated to worship with a dance team and guest musicians as well as several training seminars. Meals were served throughout the conference for all 800-850 participants, a major expense and logistical challenge for the church, with preparations that began last October.
Special guests included Open Bible President Randall A. Bach and Barbara, his wife; Global Missions Executive Director Vince McCarty and Lois, his wife; D.J. Smith, the son of Don and Margaret Smith, and Cammy, his wife; and other guests from Mexico and Puerto Rico.
President Randall Bach said, “The work the church desires to do in Cuba demands faith, resourcefulness, and hard work. Rather than being discouraged by the immense challenges they face to grow the work in Cuba, the Open Bible people exhibit a seasoned resolve and faith-filled anticipation of God’s favor. They respect and are compliant with all governmental rules and regulations. They are good neighbors. Their love for people is consistently apparent. Their testimony is established in the eyes of Cubans. They are a wonderful representation of Open Bible Churches to their nation.”
The Open Bible work in Cuba was founded by Paul and LaVon Hartman, now in heaven, who were followed by missionaries Don (in heaven) and Margaret Smith. After the revolution occurred in 1959, American missionaries had to flee the country. Nonetheless, the church continued to grow. Open Bible now has 121 churches, including “mission churches,” that are being launched plus about 1,000 cell groups throughout the island which are started with the idea of one day combining several cell groups in an area to plant a new church.
When asked what he credits the success of Open Bible Churches in Cuba to, Vince McCarty responded: “Our founding missionaries did a great job training and giving our Cuban brothers and sisters such a wonderful example of what a disciple of Christ should do and how they should live. Second, they left behind a Bible school that continued to train up pastors and leaders. Now INSTE is the main training and teaching program for preparing future ministers and leaders. Third, is how resilient the people of Cuba are even in difficult circumstances.”
He added, “The faith of our Open Bible people in Cuba is amazing; they can teach us so much. They literally depend upon the Holy Spirit for direction and guidance. They have seen miracles of healing, provision, and so much more. They are proof that it doesn’t matter whatever circumstance you may face, if you trust and believe in the Lord you will see signs, wonders, and people getting saved. The same Lord who is at work in Cuba is at work in the U.S. We just need to believe and act, using our faith, and God will do the rest.”