Thank you for praying for me while I was on my trip last month. In summary, each of our three events was what we hoped, prayed, and planned it would be. Those events were: a three-day church-planting conference in Santiago, a week-long session of the Elim Bible Institute in Camaguey, and a conference in Havana with CIMPEC.
Our biggest trials came at the end of the trip, at the three-day regional pastors’ conference in Havana. It is always a challenge to find a church in the capital city that has 1) a large enough sanctuary, kitchen, and dining room to host an event for 250 people and 2) has enough “kingdom perspective” to host an interdenominational event. We found a willing partner, but as the conference got underway we had a few hiccups. It was uncharacteristically hot in Cuba this October (you know you are in trouble when even the Cubans complain about the heat all day long), and the balcony of the church had very little air flow. One of our colleagues went out and bought a couple fans, but they didn’t help much.
Additionally, we were unaware that the denomination hosting us does not eat pork, does not allow pork to be cooked in their kitchen, and in fact will not allow pork to be consumed on their property. That would have been nice to know, since we arrived there with enough pork meat to serve lunch for 250 people. Leaders from the national pastors’ association then had to drop everything and go out to different places on the black market and try to swap pork for chicken. They somehow accomplished this bizarre exchange, but not in time for lunch, so we all became very spiritual that first day and fasted until dinner. The conference theme was “True Spirituality,” based on our speaker Dr. Gerry McDermott’s book “Seeing God.” But I began to joke that we should call this the “too much heat and not enough meat” conference.
Cubans are gracious, and though we missed one other meal due to a different problem in the kitchen, the conference itself was a great success, due to the excellent teaching of Gerry and pastor Dave Waters. The material they taught over three days was for some of these pastors (and I say this without exaggeration or boast) simply life-changing.
I sometimes think the conference ministry is small, because our events are usually only three days. But the impact is huge, especially on pastors from smaller denominations who have received little or no training for the important shepherding role they have. One pastor cornered me at the end of the conference and for fifteen minutes told me all the ways these ACTION conferences had changed his ministry. The number of invitations we receive to take these conferences to other provinces also shows me the impact we are having. May God be pleased to continually expand this “small” endeavor, then!