Filipina Church Co-Founder Honored in Cuba

An article today on reflects on a church in Havana founded twenty years ago by a Filipina and her Cuban husband.

In 2004 ACTION’s Founder, Doug Nichols, and I had the privilege of meeting Rodolfo Juarez. At left is a picture of Doug exchanging contact information with Rodolfo. Due to Doug’s many years in the Philippines he found that they had a number of mutual friends.

Here is the entire article:

A Filipina who co-founded the International Christian Community (ICC) in Cuba 20 years ago received a warm welcome from his congregation in Havana.

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday said Flor Toledo Juarez founded the church with her Cuban husband Rev. Rodolfo Juarez and three others on Oct. 31, 1990.

“While religious toleration has grown since then, the church began at a time when communist rule did not encourage church-going among the people,” the DFA said in its website.

It said that at the time the church was founded, the prevailing beliefs there were largely a mixture of Hispanic and Afro-Caribbean practices.

Philippine Ambassador MacArthur Corsino, a guest at the church’s anniversary, said the ICC’s founding was not a chance occurrence but a willful act of God.

He added the celebration coincided with the launch of the Reformation by Martin Luther, which led to the translation of the Bible to various languages and freedom of anyone to read the Scriptures.

Corsino praised Mrs. Juarez as an exemplar of how the local people would know what a Filipino or Filipina should be like back in the Philippines by just getting to know the friendliness and helpfulness of a member of the local Filipino community.

He added he and Ms. Juarez not only shared an evangelical faith, but also were both former faculty members of University of the Philippines and Silliman University.

For her part, Juarez said it was God’s will that the ICC be born, to bring Christ to those who wanted to hear the gospel in English.

“With members now numbering in the hundreds and Cubans comprising around 90 percent of the congregation, the ICC offers the only English-language worship service in Cuba although it conducts Bible studies in Spanish,” the DFA said.

As an inter-denominational church, the ICC is attended by ambassadors and other diplomats, other expatriates, and foreign visitors.