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Learning abandonment & prayer in Cuba

On my trip to Cuba 11 years ago, I met Inez Suarez. She may be retired as a pastor, but she had not lost her passion for the gospel. When the government shut down her church in Jaguay Grande, she continued to preach in homes. For 14 years as she passed the closed doors of her abandoned church, it…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

On my trip to Cuba 11 years ago, I met Inez Suarez. She may be retired as a pastor, but she had not lost her passion for the gospel. When the government shut down her church in Jaguay Grande, she continued to preach in homes. For 14 years as she passed the closed doors of her abandoned church, it was a piercing reminder of the spiritual abandon to which God had called her. She had none of the things which we associate with a church – a building, pews or a sound system. But she had the bride of Christ, a bride dressed in pure white, purified by the persecution.

Suarez learned to love the sweet taste of abandonment. As potential distractions were set aside, she found her faith being distilled and concentrated. As the shepherd of a flock that was scattered and under attack, she found her vision wonderfully focused on Jesus Christ. There was little opportunity for secret sin. Her life and testimony was under constant scrutiny. She gave us the animated testimony of a true believer. She described praying for a hydrocephalic child who had suffered greatly. The Lord miraculously healed him and confounded the doctors.

She was 67 years old at the time. The life of abandon forced on her had borne the fruit of perseverance. The doors to her church had reopened; whereas they used to pray in private, they pray in public now. Although there were only seats for about 50, 200 spilled out into the streets. The new pastor and his wife were heirs to that same fruit. They continued to do battle with the government to get the permits. They knew the names of the officials blocking their applications.

The pastor’s wife is the same kind of militant intercessor. Their church owns the property next to them and tried to build on it for a long time. Suarez had a militant group of prayer warriors. During a day of prayer, the Lord led them to go outside into the adjoining lot and stamp their feet on it, declaring that it belongs to the Lord. She says, “The government knows that we’re not afraid. I won’t sacrifice for the world, but for things of the Lord, I have no fear. In fact, to get this church built we need to first break down the walls so that everyone can see that we don’t fit. Then we’ll send my husband away so the authorities can’t get him. While he’s gone, we’ll get a brigade of men to put up the walls one night. The morning will come, and there it will be. What can they do to us?”

Suarez did not get to the place of deep faith and effectiveness in prayer without cost. She was forced to find privacy in prayer just to survive. Some of my great heroes of the faith have learned such discipline. Omar Cabrera, pastor of the largest church in Latin America, shuts himself in a hotel room to engage in warfare prayer before opening up a new city. Paul Yonggi Cho prays four hours a day. Paul Cain used to spend days at a time praying. Smith Wigglesworth prayed mightily before difficult cases. And with heroes like Sanchez praying so fervently in Cuba, the church of Jesus Christ will keep flourishing long after the old sick dictator who has so virulently opposed it has gone on to his just rewards.

All of which leaves me thinking, “If we want to see this kind of fruit, we need to pray more.”

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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