The following is the testimony of one of the pastors HeartCry supports in Cuba. For protection purposes, we have not revealed his name or photograph.
Testimony of Conversion
The town in which I was born, and where I now live and serve the Lord, is historically known as “The Town of Witchcraft.” It’s a place where there is a high level of both witchcraft and Santeria, which is an Afro-Cuban religion. I was also surrounded by a lot of secularism and darwinism. It was in the middle of this controversial mixture of superstition and atheism that I was raised. On top of all of this, there was the fact that from the time I was born, my father was an alcoholic.
When I was seventeen, I began to get into a lot of violent fights. As I continued to grow, my life was becoming more and more disgraceful, and despite the fact that I was still just a youth, I began looking for refuge in alcohol, women and fighting. Often, I would drink large amounts of rum just to be able to then go out and live in sin, and I would always end up fighting in the streets.
In the midst of all of this, from time to time I would read a little pocket New Testament that had been sent to my mom from the United States. I read Psalm 91 over and over again, to the point that I learned it by heart, along with the Lord’s Prayer that was in the back of the Bible. Still, I see now that I only read the Bible in pursuit of temporal comfort in order to make all of my problems easier. Somehow, I felt like it gave me protection.
At nineteen years of age my life had reached a terrible state of disorder. For a brief time, I was even convinced that I had contracted AIDS—but in the end it was a false alarm. Nonetheless, that episode led me to spend hours weeping and thinking about how miserable and filthy my life was. There were times in which everything that I had been doing crashed over me with waves of guilt. I would sometimes try in my own strength to fix my life, but time after time I realized that it was impossible. Whether it was because of the pressure of my friends or the lack of pleasure I found in living a cleaned-up life, I would always go back to the same types of things.
Everyday I was drowning more and more in my sin. In my mind, there existed a certain awareness of the God that I read about from time to time in my little New Testament. However, the “god” that I imagined was really one that I had created in my own mind, one that approved of all the sinful things I was doing. In reality, he was just an idol that my unregenerate heart had produced. Things in my life continued to get worse. Because of his excessive drinking, my father developed a nerve disorder, and my brother also experienced mental illness while living in our home. Now, not only was my own life a type of hell, but my closest circle of relationships had also become one.
It was then that my mom decided to look for spiritual help in the local baptist church. Even though it seemed to me to be an absurd idea, I still found myself each day feeling more and more the burden and guilt for the life I was living. Once my mom started going to the church, several brothers and sisters began visiting our home and they invited me to participate in the church’s activities. At that time, I resisted, but inside of me there was a battle in which I felt like the God of the Bible was beginning to pull me to Himself. I fought and I resisted. I wanted to continue living in my sin, but several problems began to make my life even worse. Time after time I tried to look for spiritual help in Santeria, but nothing happened. It seemed like everything in the world at that moment was against me.
One of those nights, I decided to go with my mother to the church—they had been praying for my salvation. In reality, I don’t remember what the preacher preached about that night, but I do remember that something supernatural was happening inside of me and I couldn’t explain it. The sin that had given me so much pleasure now pained me. I began to read the Scriptures with great passion, to the point that I read the entire New Testament in a matter of weeks. On several occasions I was exposed to the preaching of the gospel both by the pastor and by others from the church that spoke to me about the work of Christ on the cross. So, with desperation I went running into the arms of my Savior. I knew that my life was not good, but I also knew now the depths of His love for me, and that was motive enough for me to fall into His arms.
From that moment, my life began to change. Everyone talked about what was happening to me—many could not explain it. In my own heart I felt a longing to obey everything I read in the Bible or learned in the discipleship classes or heard in the preaching. Day after day I experienced changes. I no longer wanted to drink alcohol and I felt repulsed by the life I once lived. I started sharing the gospel with everyone around me. It was so natural for me that I couldn’t keep from talking to everyone about what God had done for me in the person of Jesus Christ.
Call to the Ministry
After my baptism I began to preach the gospel in several different communities where no church existed. I also visited the prisons to preach the gospel to the inmates. One day my pastor decided to begin a Bible study on the gifts in the church, and after hearing him teach on the pastoral gift, I felt that God had called me to serve Him as a pastor of His flock. When I spoke to my pastor about my desire to be in the ministry, he began to be more involved with me and to mentor me. Little by little, he started delegating to me more responsibilities in the church and in the surrounding missionary work. I started a new group in a town out in the country where there was no church and I also served as a preacher in several churches in our region.
As the church observed my work in the Lord, the brothers and sisters began to express publicly that they perceived God’s calling on my life. So, I continued serving until I was approved by the church to go and study in a theological seminary. While I was in seminary, I continued to go out and serve local churches on the weekends. After graduation I joined a baptist church, where I was ordained and installed as pastor. I have served God from the time I was converted, and though I’ve passed through difficult moments in the ministry, to this day I have never regretted—nor will I ever regret—serving my Lord Jesus. To Him, and only Him, belongs the glory both now and forever. Amen!