Overcoming obstacles in western Cuba — learning how to “flex”

Conference in HavanaTo become a missionary with ACTION, one must complete a number of requirements, including an application, doctrinal statement, Bible quiz, Board interview, and a brief psychological evaluation.

I learned something about myself in that evaluation, which is meant to help missionaries understand their personality better in order to forecast challenges they might experience on the mission field.

One of the aspects evaluated was “rigid vs. flexible” with regards to plans and circumstances. I’ll never forget the counselor showing me my score. Compared to others, I was almost off-the-charts flexible. The little dot representing this aspect of my personality in comparison to other people was way down at the bottom of the “rigid vs. flexible” grid.

All I could say in response was, “Good thing I minister in Latin America.”

Case in point: In November I met with leaders of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba along with my Cuban colleague and official ACTION representative David Gomero. We immediately began planing two Bible Training Workshops for April and very quickly we had two excellent conference speakers agree to travel down and teach.

These were significant plans in that they represented many “firsts” — first conferences with this denomination, first events David would organize on his own without me traveling down, first trip to Cuba by both of the speakers. Many, many hours were dedicated to the plans.

Then things got bumpy. First one of the speakers cancelled due to a family health matter. Then, our other speaker, who had already prepared enough messages to cover all the teaching time, came down with a horrible case of bronchitis and had to cancel last-minute.

So, 150 pastors are headed to an ACTION conference in 5 days, all the food has been purchased and several hundred books shipped to the site, but there are no speakers. What do do? No hay problema, hermano. We just flex like good Latinos do and trust that God can do something meaningful through a last-minute selection of local pastors who have a weekend to prepare their messages.

God honored our decision not to cancel the conference and it went very well, with 160 in attendance.

Having faith and being willing to cheerfully flex with ever-changing circumstances are two of the real requirements for missionary service. Things seem to be either constantly falling apart (or being attacked), requiring one to flex in order to hold things together, or unexpected but amazing opportunities are presented that require plans to be quickly readjusted.

Our team sends its deepest thanks to you for maintaining a rigid base of prayer and financial support so that we may flex in response to both the obstacles and open doors in Cuba.

Please keep us in your prayers!

Thank you and God bless,

Brian Stewart