God’s provision for Cuba

Cuba is a place where things are scarce. Food, clothing, medicine, gasoline, construction materials. But there is no lack of testimonies of God’s meticulous provision for the needs of His people and His work.

Following is one of those accounts, from Les Thompson’s book “Más Que Maravilloso” and translated by Rob Dods.

Thompson’s father, Elmer, was the co-founder, along with Bartolomé Lavastida, of the Pinos Nuevos Seminary and denomination. I have visited the seminary and am friends with Elmer Lavastida, Bartolomé’s son, whose picture accompanies this post. The photo was snapped when Elmer and his wife, Gisela, visited the ACTION office in 2004.

“How to Make Worries Fly Away” by Les Thompson

When we realize that God sustains what he has created, and that, as the Apostle Paul told us “in Him we live and move and have our being,” what rest we find!  All that happens is in the hands of the wise and loving Creator and Provider.

An event in my father´s life illustrates this truth.  He arrived in Cuba in 1928 to work as a missionary.  Since there were already some missionaries in Havana, he chose to go the interior of the republic where there was little evangelical work being done.  This is how he ended up in Placetas, in the province of Santa Clara, and there, with the help of Bartolomé Lavastida, started the “The New Pines Seminary” (Seminario Los Pinos Nuevos).

They were difficult years.  The United States was suffering through the Great Depression, which shortly afterwards would affect Cuba.  The banks in Placetas went bankrupt and my father lost all the money that he had saved for the start of the school year.  Interestingly, a few months earlier, my father, conscious of the American economic catastrophe, had written to the churches that supported him, informing them that they had saved enough money for the start of the year, and as such, would not need money sent.  He never imagined that the local bank would go bankrupt.

What to do now?  He was embarrassed to write the churches again asking for help.  Surely God would touch the hearts of some Americans to send him the money that he now so desperately needed.  Every day he went to check his mail, anxiously opening every letter.  But none of them contained a check.  The day before the school year started he went one more time to check his mail, sure that on that day the long awaited provision would arrive.  However, upon arriving at the post office the only thing that he found in his mailbox was a magazine.

Confused and full of fear, he returned home thinking that God had forgotten about him.  “What are we going to do tomorrow when the students arrive?” he said to himself.  “How will I provide the food that they are expecting? My God, might you have some message in this magazine to console my heart?”

He opened the magazine.  On the cover, in large letters, was a text: YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER KNOWS THAT YOU NEED ALL THESE THINGS!

Being the man of faith that he was, he raised his eyes to the heavens and said: “Thank you Lord, that was all I needed to know. I trust in your ability to meet my needs.”

The next day the students started to arrive.  My father was in the doorway awaiting them.  The first to arrive, if I´m not mistaken, was Macedonio Leyva.  He was a small man but he had the voice of a giant, and had spent his summer vacations preaching and starting a ministry in a village called Jagueyes.  With great happiness he hugged his professor and expressed his joy of being able to return for another year of studies:  “A little later I will tell you about all God did in Jagueyes,” he said, and he headed off towards the dorm.

“That happiness is going to disappear very quickly when you arrive at the cafeteria tonight,” my father quietly said to himself.

All of a sudden Leyva stopped and hurried back. “Mr. Thompson, I forgot. An elderly lady from Jagueyes sent you a letter.”

My father opened the letter.  Two hundred dollars fell out.  The brief note said: “Thank you for sending Leyva to my town.  I finally found the Savior I had been looking for all my life.  I´m sending you some support for your seminary.  May God bless you.”

Just imagine the meal they ate that night at the seminary!

It is indeed true that “Our Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”