Bobbe Van Hise
- Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
CUBA, CASTRO, COMMUNISM and GOD
I could add the word 'cars' to the title of this blog. When you go to Cuba, you can't miss the Cubans love for the American classic cars. I'm sitting in a 1956 Ford Fairlane, I think. I'm not good with cars, old or new. One evening our tour group was getting ready to go for dinner. The twenty-four of us expected to get into our bus, but not tonight. As we stood in front of our hotel, we watched six classic cars drive up. Some took photos and we all wondered why they were there. Soon we discovered they were there for us! What fun, we hopped into the cars and cruised the Malecon for several miles, wind blowing through our hair, waving, laughing, and tooting the crazy horns. In short, re-living our teenage years. Many of us had driven cars like these, or had parents that drove one like it. It's a pleasure to engage in nostalgia, and it feels good to be a kid again! Life is too serious most of the time. I know the Lord wants His children to enjoy themselves. I think in Bible verses so will share some with you.
"A man can do nothing better than eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" Ecclesiastes 2:24 - 25.
"I know there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. . .this is God's gift." Ecclesiastes 3:12 - 13.
I do appreciate the Lord sending me to Cuba; I've wanted to do this for many years. I will describe Cuba with a few 'C' words, in no special order. It is colorful, cultured, a Caribbean Island, creative, Castro-ized, cigars, coffee, complex, calm and colonial. It was a sad day when Castro took control after the Revolution in 1959. The country soon fell into Communism. The government took away people's businesses, land and often their home. It is difficult for an American to comprehend a government taking what doesn't belong to them. Well, come to think of it, we do have a little of that in my country, and if we're not careful who we vote for, we may have a lot more. Communist Russia supported the Cuban economy for several years, then pulled out as their own country fell apart and their economy was in trouble.
I traveled with the Road Scholar program called a "People-to-People Cultural Exchange". Our group consisted of Americans from all over the country. We were all eager to learn about the Cuban people and have the opportunity to know them personally. We found that we were accepted even though ties between our two countries were severed long ago when the Communist government came to power and there was a build up of nuclear weapons just ninety miles off our shore. So many Cubans have family in the U.S. and I'm sure they get news from them via letters. They don't have access to the internet.
Cubans are able to get a college education without any payment. However, they must work for the government for four years to re-pay their education. Our wonderful Cuban guide was a teacher. She was paid by the government, also by Road Scholar. The man who drove the classic car I road in was a medical doctor. We asked why he was driving a 'cab'. "I make $60.00 a month as a doctor. I can make so much more taking people for a ride in my car", was his answer.
The money taken by Castro's government was supposed to be distributed to the people, but the majority of the people are desperately poor and live on an average monthly income of $20 U.S. dollars. It's reported that the Castro brothers have many millions of dollars stashed away. We stayed in nice hotels that are owned by the government, and often ate in government - owned restaurants. Free-enterprise can't be entirely suppressed, so we were able to eat in 'Paladars', non-government owned cafe's and restaurants, and were told that there are now privately owned Bed & Breakfast type lodging available. In fact we visited one in the Colonial town of Trinidad. Old Havana has some nice 'boutique' hotels.
Several lectures were included in our program. The first one was about Cuba's religion. The woman who presented, a university professor, painted a picture of a country that had no real interest in religion. "Cuba is not religious", she said several times. This lovely island was originally occupied by Spain having been 'discovered' by Christopher Columbus. The Catholic church was prominent and Christianity was their religious belief. We visited an amazing cemetery where 2.5 million are buried. The statuary made of fine marble was so impressive. Figures of Jesus, crosses, even replicas of the Pieta were displayed. As many groups moved to the island they brought other beliefs with them and were free to practice those beliefs. Cuba imported slaves from Africa, Ireland and China. I believe they worked in the sugar cane and tobacco fields. Most every country at some point has had a history of slavery.
When Castro came to power, he closed the churches. Communism and Christianity don't mix. Only the government is to be 'worshipped', not God. But just like you are unable to stifle free-enterprise completely, spirituality cannot be taken away from people. The Christians simply went 'underground'. The lecturer did not say this, maybe she didn't know, but I know because I've talked to Christian missionaries who've brought in Bibles and taught classes to those gathered secretly in homes. God will always make His presence known! David wrote this in Psalm 139:7. . .
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?"
I was thrilled to visit the home of Ernest Hemingway; a delightful place. I remember the 'Bay of Pigs' as a young student and was excited to be able to wade in the warm water along the shore. How different life would have been for the Cuban people if the Cuban rebels, armed and trained by the U.S., had been successful. I don't doubt that God's plan will ultimately prove 'perfect'. Faith is believing in what you can't see.
** Note about my book, Blogging God's Word. I recently was informed that the publisher, CrossBooks, would not continue to publish. I guess they couldn't compete with so many other publishers. The book will be available until April 30, 2015. Then, it will be unavailable for about two months while I get it re-published.
Thank you Lord for allowing me this pleasant time in a country I've wanted to visit for so long. I trust You to bring about good things as these wonderful, cheerful, bright people look to You to provide change and give them hope for a better tomorrow.