November 15, 2017

A Couple Moments in Cuba

I'll be writing about my trip to Cuba last week for the December issue of Word&Way. But there were a couple of moments during the trip that involved Word&Way that I want to share now.

The first moment came from my friend Joey Hernández, pastor of Sexta Iglesia Bautista (Sixth Baptist Church) in Santiago de Cuba. I first met Joey during a visit to Cuba in April of 2016 and our team was quickly impressed with his passion, energy, humor, and English. Joey came to Missouri in June of this year during his first trip to the United States. When he arrived, I gave him a copy of the Word&Way that included his photo. He called his wife to say that he was "in an important magazine." I agreed it was important! During that visit, I interviewed him and another Baptist pastor from Cuba for the July issue of Word&Way.

Last week, Joey was the Cuban we saw the most since he helped guide our team around. When I arrived, he told me how the earlier Word&Way issue had helped him with other visits in the U.S. after leaving Missouri. So, when I gave him some copies of the newer issue with him in it, he was again excited. On Tuesday evening, we attended a worship service at Sixth Baptist. Joey excitedly told his congregation about being in the Word&Way. If I could get him in some pulpits in the U.S., I think he could get us more subscribers because his energy is contagious! It is an honor to help share stories like those of Joey and Sixth Baptist Church in Santiago de Cuba.


The second moment came during a meeting with Marciano Marcel Bozil, director of El Mensajero (The Messenger), which is the magazine of the Convención Bautista de Cuba Oriental (Eastern Baptist Convention of Cuba). Started in 1904, El Mensajero is believed to be the oldest magazine in Cuba - which is particularly amazing considering the persecution they and other Baptists experienced in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

The meeting led to the first international partnership for Word&Way! The Word&Way Board voted to create a fund this year to support international partnerships with Baptist publications. Having been blessed with resources and freedoms, we seek to bless others. Our 2017 grant will go to El Mensajero so they can buy a commercial printer to help with timely printing and distribution of their magazine. We also gave them a used laptop so it could find greater purpose than collecting dust in our storage closet. I talked with Marciano and his main reporter, Luis, about ways we can collaborate and learn from each other in the future. I hope we can find many more ways of supporting Baptist journalism around the world.


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