TORONTO, Ontario — (CANADIAN CHRISTIAN NEWS SERVICE) — The world – and especially Canadians who make up the majority of foreign visitors to Cuba – are watching and waiting as American/Cuban relations reach the warmest level they have been in decades.
Cuba is a favourite tourist destination for Canadians – and it is a country where the Church has flourished under difficult conditions for years. The Canadian Bible Society (CBS) is planning to provide the Cuban Church, and ordinary Cuban Christians, with one million Bibles in the next 18 months.
“The Canadian Bible Society is coming alongside the Church in Cuba, a church that grows by 15 percent each year, to provide Bibles that will change lives by bringing God’s Word to the people there,” says Alain Montano Hdez, leader of the Cuban Biblical Commission. “This is a country where scraps of Scripture have been passed on pieces of paper hand-to-hand between believers, because Bibles just were not available.”
Like many developing nations, Cuba’s church growth outpaces its resources. “There are far more believers than there are Bibles,” says Pastor Joel Ortega Dopico, Presbyterian pastor and head of the Cuban Church Council. “Almost the exact reverse situation that we find in countries like Canada. Our initiative with our partner Million Bible Mission in Cuba, will help to put a Bible in the hands of over a million Cuban Christians.”
The Canadian Bible Society is welcoming Canadians to participate in providing Bibles to the tropical – and deeply impoverished – island that is such a popular vacation destination for so many Canadian travelers.
“In a recent visit there many, many people were expressing their gratitude to the Canadian Bible Society for Bibles,” says Reg Graves, Development Officer for CBS. “They would testify while hugging their Bibles and tears running down their cheeks ‘thank you, thank you Canadian Bible Society for making this happen.'”
The Republic of Cuba, with a population of 11 million and nearly 100 per cent literacy rate, is experiencing unprecedented growth of Christianity. Cuban pastors and church leaders say that many Cubans have a stronger desire than ever to read the Bible. While the Cuban government does not have statistics on the growth of Christianity in the island nation, many estimate growth is occurring at a pace of between 10 to 15 percent per year.