Last week, I found myself in a house church outside Havana, Cuba. The group was holding its second meeting ever. A couple opened their home at the prompting of the Holy Spirit and invited neighbors to talk, eat, read the Bible, and pray together. Fourteen people said ‘yes’, and there I was with a Cuban pastor seated in a warm, humid living room listening to the group visit with one another.
During the conversation the pastor asked, ‘How many of you do not have a Bible of your own?’ Half of the group raised their hands. ‘Next week you will have one’, the pastor said through a smile. And there it was, the Spirit at work. A couple opened their home, invitations were made, people responded, the church did its job, and now the love and knowledge of Jesus has a chance to grow. Book of Acts stuff!
It reminded me, there are some basics that apply to Christians no matter where they live. There are rules to the road, if you will, that are simply Christian essentials no matter where we call home.
Number one, hospitality. Christians are called to share their lives with others. The invitation is a fundamental to the Christian life. Look around your living room or at your kitchen table. If all the chairs have not been filled recently you have work to do! Jesus is waiting on you to make an invitation happen.
Number two, prayer. Perhaps the most known yet always underestimated, prayer is our most powerful spiritual practice. While in Cuba, the level of suffering people kept just under the surface was humbling and dramatic to see. People needed prayer – especially the prayer of others on their behalf. The prayer moments were, without exception, deeply emotional, tear filled, and drenched in the Spirit. In America it is a little more hidden, but still the same. Pray with and for others and the depth of life we live with God and one another will grow.
Number three, be open to the Spirit, not excuses. In many places, Christianity is not easy and Cuba is one of those places. Jobs, money, food, consumer goods….these are not easy to find and yet the church thrives. At some level, Christians are asked to see the gospel through beyond the obstacle or excuse, and the Spirit flows through that kind of Christian. In a Cuban living room, I got the chance to see the Spirit, yet again, prevail.
At the entrance to the Havana harbor, there are three interesting sites. There is a Spanish fort – with twelve cannons called the ‘twelve disciples’ as the story goes, a museum dedicated to Che Guevara, and a several stories tall statue of Jesus. Each has been a force in Cuba’s history, and after being there I can tell you beyond doubt which one will last.