For 29 years Castro’s communist regime Cuba shut down religion. The worst region was Matanza. But in 1988, a great revival came to a small town called Madruga. From there it spread through Cuba.
The catalytic event was the arrival of an evangelist in the area. After he preached many were healed. News of God’s power spread beyond the church into the surrounding area.
After four days, the evangelist left. Pastor Justo Regueira was left wondering how he could possibly keep this going on his own. He didn’t have experience with this sort of thing. He felt inadequate.
That same day, some people brought a man who had been paralyzed all his life to be prayed for. This meant a confrontation. A crowd gathered around. What would happen?
Pastor Regueira knelt beside the man’s cot and prayed. As he did so, he felt faith stirring inside.
Then, rising he exclaimed, “Just as Peter did, I command you to rise up and walk!” Much to the astonishment of the people, the man jumped to his feet! He began running around the church and then up a nearby hill, praising God as he ran.
Hearing the commotion, people came rushing up from all over. The crowd was awe-struck. People began bringing the sick to the church for healing in droves. The blind could see. Impacted teeth vanished. Many other miracles took place. Soon they had to schedule 24 services per day, with 400 in each service. One was held on the flat church roof, and one inside the church. Each service lasted 40 minutes each.
The army had to be called in to help keep the crowds of thousands waiting to get into the church in order. The lines were four blocks long. The pastor and leaders became so tired that the young people preached. The revival lasted two months, before the government shut it down.
The evangelist who had triggered this movement of the Spirit went on to the city of Santiago. Together with two pastors in the area, he began to hold services there. The miracles continued. As people heard about the many healings, they came by the thousands. After five days, the police stormed the church in the middle of a meeting. They drug the people out and beat them. They smashed the piano and pews. They put the leaders in jail.
Undeterred, the young people of the church continued to carry on with the meetings until the police came and they, too, were put in jail. This kind of bold resistance fueled a revival in the church nationwide in Cuba.
The current Pastor when I visited was a man named Guillermo Valdez. He had an amazing boldness and passion. He seemed to be constantly praising the Lord. He told me, “Recently the Lord had been revealing specific things about people to me in order to bring healing.”
A few weeks earlier he had been preaching when he saw a woman walking by the church outside. The Lord showed him that she had a growth on her throat. He stopped preaching and directed some church members to bring her inside.
When they did, she said, “Yes, my throat problem is so bad that I can’t even swallow anymore.” Guillermo prayed that she would be healed, and instantly, she was. They brought her a glass of water and she drank it.
Then much to their surprise, she ran down the aisles. Where was she going? The congregation turned to see her disappear out the same front door through which she had just walked.
When I was there in 1995, I saw that the revival fires were still burning. Prior to my arrival, a church member who wore thick glasses and could barely read a large print Bible had come forward for healing.
After praying for her, the pastor (pastor Guillermo) had said, “Now take off your glasses and read this small print Bible.” As she did so, the realization that she had been miraculously healed overwhelmed the woman. Tears streamed down her cheeks. When she went to work the next day, her coworkers were astounded at her healing.
Guillermo gave me a chance to preach in the church. The place was rocking. People had come expecting to meet God there. They were jumping up and down in time to the praise music, and a number of them banged on tambourines. After preaching, it was time to pray for people.
I observed a woman in a wheel chair up in the front of the church. I told God, “Lord, it would be so neat if you would heal her.” And God replied, “Then you must pray for her.”
So I did. Somehow, however, my prayers seemed to be limp, tepid things, thrown up like old banana peels in the air. Did God want to heal this woman now? I wasn’t hearing anything and didn’t know where to go with it. My prayers were the kind of faithless, fuzzy prayers we tend to pray when we haven’t experienced much of God’s power .
“Oh God, please heal this woman.” I prayed. But I looked at her and thought, “What if God doesn’t want to heal her?”
Seeing my predicament, Guillermo came over to assist. After praying, he commanded the woman to get up and walk.
“How brutal! Poor woman! Here she is crippled and the pastor is going to add insult to injury. She’s going to collapse!” I thought. “This poor lady is going to be made to feel bad when she’s not healed.” But then, my eyes grew wide as she began to step out of wheelchair, plant two feet squarely on the ground and walk! I felt like Thomas. I was seeing with my physical eyes, not the eyes of my heart.
“How do you feel?” I asked her.
“Fine,” she responded as she pushed her wheelchair about.
In that moment I saw that it takes a level of desperation that to see God move so powerfully. I was afraid to pray for it, but I was afraid to miss God’s presence as well.
Jesus was always egging his disciples on by saying, “Have you no faith?” Or, “Oh you of little faith!” He dares us to put our faith to the test today by taking risks that cause our faith to grow.
Too many of us are caught in that no-man’s land of indecision. Unfamiliar with God’s power, we waffle. Our minds cloud with questions when the time for boldness has come. Yes, I know that we must work in concert with the Holy Spirit’s prodding. We need to pray as He guides us.
Perhaps we’ve become too cautious. What if God were ready to send down thunder and lightning if we’ll we’d get out of His way with our timid caveats and halfhearted faith?