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Special Report: Will Success Spoil Cuba’s Revival?

With relaxed travel rules, Cuban leaders wonder whether Americans will dampen their churches’ zeal.
Special Report: Will Success Spoil Cuba’s Revival?
Image: Eddos Estudio

Right at the point where Havana’s ocean promenade meets the historic forts that guard its harbor, a crowd of young Cubans has gathered on a Thursday night. They are next to a dozen floats parked in preparation for Cuba’s summer carnival. But when one float starts blaring salsa music, the group does not welcome the rhythm; one member turns and holds his palm out in disapproval.

As a lighthouse shines overhead, the young crowd finishes singing a slow chorus about wanting their lives to be “like perfume at your feet.” They then launch into a boisterous call-and-response:

Yo soy Cristiano
Para que tú lo sepas
No me falta nada
Mi vida está completa

“So you know it, I am a Christian. I don’t lack anything. My life is complete.”

A tourist from the United States approaches the crowd.

“Hablas inglés? Are they talking about Jesus?” he asks. He spent the past week in central Cuba on a missions trip. “I knew there were Christians here, but I didn’t expect to see them like this.”

Next, a pastor has the crowd turn and face Habana Vieja, the heart of the capital’s tourism quarter, across the street. They raise their cell phones in the air in flashlight mode and shout, “Yo soy luz en medio de la oscuridad.” “I am light in the midst of darkness.”

Christianity Today traveled to Cuba the same week Secretary of State John Kerry reopened the US Embassy on Havana’s Malecón promenade. CT attended an exclusive meeting of theological educators discussing how to capitalize on La Apertura—the new diplomatic and economic opening between Cuba and the United States.

Christians on both sides ...

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