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ECHOcuba was founded in 1994 by a group of North American Evangelicals who felt a great calling to advocate for faith and freedoms in Cuba and help support the emerging independent Cuban Christian Chu

Posted 4/12/12 at 3:59 PM | ECHOcuba

House Churches are spreading the faith in Cuba

According to biblical scriptures, Church is not a building; it is a body of believers in Christ. In Cuba the protestant church exists without laws to protect it and without the freedom to express its needs. The Cuban church suffers from many limitations; it suffers from repression, persecution, intolerance and the limitation of a growing building space. Overall, both Catholic and Protestant churches are denied the privilege of building new temples.

The government will not allow new churches to be built or purchase property, even renovations of existing buildings must receive approval from the authorities, a long process which is typically denied. Instead faithful believers are obligated to transform homes into sanctuaries called house churches (Casas Cultos). Apartments and homes are transformed every Sunday; a living room becomes an altar and the patio becomes the sanctuary.

The church in Cuba is divided between those who are part of the government’s controlled Cuban Council of Churches (CCC) and those that are not part of the CCC and who teach traditional Christian values. The non-CCC churches are known as “Independent Churches”. ECHOcuba provides hope and assistance to the hundreds of Independent Churches of Cuba and some who are not even recognized at all by the Communist government; many are known as house churches. In communities around Cuba, we join with these courageous warriors to help them survive the daily battles of communism. FULL POST

Posted 3/28/12 at 11:09 AM | ECHOcuba

The Challenges the Pope faces in Cuba

Fourteen years ago, Pope John Paul II, great champion of freedom and warrior against communism, visited the island of Cuba. And in little more than in a few days, his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, will follow suit.

But this pope has the chance to avoid the political traps that diminished the political, if not the spiritual, impact of the visit of the last pope, and to carry on the legacy of his predecessor—who solidified the Catholic Church’s position as the leader of the global cause for religious freedom.

Benedict’s visit comes at a time when the Cuban government is amid an aggressive public relations campaign to present itself as reformist. Last December, the government announced it would be releasing nearly 3,000 prisoners in advance of the Pope’s visit. This notice came just a month after the government announced that for the first time since the communist revolution, the purchase and sale of private property would be legal.
Academics and diplomats around the world rejoiced and heralded a new era of change in Cuba. The Cuban exile community and those who know the oppressed nation more intimately knew better than to expect little more than a replay of 1998. We remember the image of a fatigue-free and ex-communicated Castro greeting the pontiff in a crisp black suit. We recall his brother Raul smiling agreeably in the front rows of the Papal Mass as the Pope called for “true freedom” and “recognition of human rights and social justice.” We recall a brief period of apparent change that former political prisoner Armando Valladares characterized as "cosmetic," at best. In the words of Orlando Marquez, editor of Palabra Nueva, a publication of the Archdiocese of Havana, "It is as if those five days in January 1998 were an opened and closed parenthesis." FULL POST

Posted 3/15/12 at 10:21 AM | ECHOcuba

The Suffering Church in Cuba

On the eve of the revolution, neither the Catholic Church nor the Protestant churches were a dominant force in Cuban Society. Nonetheless, in modern day trajectory, the Cuban government holds strict control of all church activities and repression of religious freedom. By law, discrimination against Christians is illegal, yet discrimination and harassment continues as growing churches are often perceived as a threat to regime stability. According to anthropologist Maria Elena Faguaga, people who follow Afro-Cuban religions are a majority in this Caribbean island nation. Within the population an estimated 5% belongs or attends protestant churches, including Baptist, Pentecostals, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh day Adventists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Lutherans, and the Quakers, among others. Other groups include Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Bahia’s and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

A brief History 1902-1959
Prior to 1902, the American Bible Society colporteurs Alberto J. Diaz and Pedro Duarte establish the first protestant church on Cuban soil in 1883. During 1989-1902 the Spanish-American war begins, the era of mission Board sponsored work begins in Cuba after the American occupation begins. Various independent Fundamentalist missionaries arrive in Cuba in the year 1902.The years following this period are signified as the years of unification of missionaries and denominations working together to establish the gospel of God on the island. In 1940, representatives of all denominations united and began establishing a strong concern in providing a united front in evangelizing the Gospel in Cuba. FULL POST