In Cuba, authorities often arrive without warning. According to persecution support ministry Voice of the Martyrs Korea, on 10 March 2020, a group of men with sledgehammers appeared at Pastor David Walter Fis’ church at 9am. “They wanted to demolish the church and everything inside,” Pastor David told Voice of the Martyrs, “and [they] started smashing it with their 10-kilo sledgehammers. They came at that hour when the church was closed, hoping that no one would try to stop them from destroying everything.”
“When the pastor and other church leaders learned what was happening, they rushed to the site and managed to stop the wrecking crew before the roof could collapse,” says Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. She says Pastor David was filled with emotion as he gazed in disbelief at the destroyed church building.
“You can imagine the sadness that we all had,” Pastor David told Voice of the Martyrs, “after many years of sacrifice to be able to build a humble church and how they had unfairly demolished it.”
Decades ago, Cuba’s revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, established an atheistic communist government and vowed to drive religion from the island. But according to Representative Foley, Cuban church leaders tell Voice of the Martyrs that the opposite has happened. “It has been more than 60 years since [Castro] said that,” a church leader said, “but Christians are in Cuba, in many schools, in secret prison circles and in every municipality in Cuba. From east to west, north to south, Cuba is filled with the gospel.”
As knowledge of the gospel increases in Cuba, however, so does government scrutiny, according to Representative Foley.
“After 17 years of worshipping together, Pastor Faustino’s church of 100 members faced the same opposition in 2021 that Pastor David’s church had experienced the previous year; the government sent a bulldozer to completely level the church building,” says Representative Foley. “Though the building was destroyed, church members continued to meet every day under a temporary roof at the church site, hoping to persuade the government to change its decision. Security officers confronted the Christians daily, pressuring them to leave, but the church members remained faithful despite running low on food and subsisting mainly on rice husks.”
After Cuban authorities sent a demolition crew, all that remains of Pastor Walter Fis’ church building is the roof, yet his congregation continues to gather for worship and fellowship.
Other Cuban pastors have faced even greater pressures, according to Representative Foley. “Two pastors have been imprisoned for more than a year,” says Representative Foley, “and one has reportedly been tortured and treated as a ‘counterrevolutionary criminal’.” Still, she says, the Communist Party’s efforts to crush churches in Cuba with sledgehammers, bulldozers and imprisonments continue to fail.
“All that remains of Pastor David’s church building is the roof, yet his congregation continues to gather for worship and fellowship,” says Representative Foley. “They meet on porches and in kitchens, in fields and under trees. They baptize new believers in cleaned-out pigsties.”
“Despite everything,” Pastor David told Voice of the Martyrs, “the congregation continues to grow more and more.”
Another pastor, a widow who struggles to provide for her two teenage children, boldly defies authorities who regularly pressure her to stop her church activities. “I demand they show what law I have broken,” she told Voice of the Martyrs. “Since the authorities have never cited a specific law, she continues her ministry work,” says Representative Foley.
She says the main request Voice of the Martyrs receives from Cuban Christians is a request for prayer that they will continue to stand firm in their faith.
“One Cuban pastor was told by a senior UN official that the official was willing to speak to the Pope, the president of the United States and Cuba’s leader on behalf of Cuban Christians,” says Representative Foley. “But the pastor replied that they do not want anything from the Pope, the president, or Cuba’s leader. ‘We are not asking for persecution to be removed,’ he told the UN official. ‘We just want people to pray that we remain faithful.’”
Individuals interested in supporting Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s work in partnership with underground Christians in communist countries can give to the “Communism is not Dead Fund” (CIND) via electronic transfer to:
KB Bank: 463501-01-243303
Account Holder: (사)순교자의소리
Please note “CIND” on the transfer.