So many of the ways God worked in my heart during our time in Cuba have been gently reinforced throughout the weeks since our return.
I have continued to encounter recurring themes from our time there through my own morning quiet time, email devotions or the pursuits I have set in place to grow this summer.
One of the two studies I am engaged in is to read the book Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.
Our sister-in-law Sonja led a bible study on this book and gifted me a copy. It is about the cross generational mentoring relationships of women and the importance of that in the body of Christ.
With an active schedule throughout June, it is slow progress I am making and much underlining and note-taking…but as all things God…I am right where I need to be.
This week I read this line on page 37…
“Believers should be noticeably different. True believers will be noticeably – beautifully – different.”
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth; Adorned, Moody Publishers 2017
In the margin of this passage I have jotted these words:
- Affection for one another
- Bible reading
Going into a country and culture so very different from my own, the contrast between believers and non-believers was far more evident than in my own homeland.
Here it is hard to tell sometimes who the believers are and who are just kind people with good hearts but have no interest in pursuing the abundant life offered by Jesus to those who will lay down self to follow Him.
In the atmosphere of the setting we witnessed, we met some very kind people who are not believers but there were distinctions in the community of the church that set believers apart from these in obvious ways.
So looking at the list above for explanation:
Dress – the women and men of the church made the effort to take their dress up a notch for services and also there was a level of modesty that was not prudish but effective. I am struggling with the awkward political correctness of fear of offense here, but I am going to press on. The men and women who were believers consistently appeared to have made the effort to honor God with their attire and with the offering of themselves in a presentable and non-offensive way to others – inside and outside the church walls.
whew…that was crazy hard.
Let’s move on.
Affection for one another – Let’s face it. Latins rock greeting one another. While I am all about maintaining my personal space in conversations with others, there is something oh so charming about the side cheek brush of a kiss distributed in a completely non-sexual way by males and females to each other. But it was more than that with the believers. There was a kindness extended as they visited before and after services or around the perimeters of our work settings and home visits.
They genuinely greeted each other with joy and there was an obvious lack of pecking order grouping that we sometimes see in our culture. I wonder if the nature of a history of persecution hasn’t stripped away some of the clique mentality as they certainly seem to function with a love that points to something deeper than our human capacity to get along with everyone.
Behavior: Gracious, humble, serving, smiling, unassuming, polite, kind, active to do and to be…I can’t help but gulp back a lump in my throat thinking of them and the ways they communicated Christ with all of their actions.
Attitude: For this I would say there is something in the countenance and work ethic of believers we met that sharply contrasted with those we would run into in other ways. There was hope and joy in the ways they did their work and there was evidence of the applied belief that, while we honor the laws and government under which we have been placed, we know these are ultimately only in power because God has ordained it.
And when we know that, it changes everything.
Worship: They entered into worship with pure hearts. Worship during church service, worship in private homes. Hands and faces raised heavenward. It was too sacred to even look at sometimes. And yet I couldn’t help but see the glow of glory resting on those faces. Pure joy. No show. Just love being poured outward and upward like a child reaching for his or her father’s arms.
Bible reading: I need a bigger word for this. Bible consuming, maybe? Pastors held one in the hand and referred to it as the Word was explained and taught with passionate zeal. All around us, in every gathering, heads bowed over well-worn Bibles or text on their phones. Fingers followed along on the lines of the scriptures and heads nodded. It was active. It was alive. It was inspiring.
Prayer: Again whether we were in homes or in the services at the church, there was prayer. And not just one guy saying a prayer while we all bowed our heads. I’m talking about people going over to other people and laying hands on them and praying. I’m speaking of the kind of Holy Spirit prayer that moves mountains and invades places only God knows about and can do something to bring change.
Once again I am going to repeat what I have said throughout this series…what did we do in Cuba?
We visited our family in Christ and we learned and we grew.
We were encouraged and we have been transformed.
We saw how the church thrives in spite of opposition and persecution that is more than just people bashing your beliefs on social media or the late night monologue.
And if we left one tiny portion of anything with them that they gave to us, to God be the glory <3