Cuban Army Ready to Attack
SANTA CLARA, CUBA–The Army’s work began in 1990 and now 50 soldiers are on the roll, including 13 junior soldiers.
Despite years of hardship and privation, Salvationists continue to march boldly forward in Cuba, bringing the practical expression of the Gospel to this island nation.
“It is very difficult to understand Cuba,” said Caribbean Territorial Commander Colonel Franklyn Thompson after his recent trip to that country. While in Cuba, Thompson visited several corps, gaining a better understanding of the conditions in Cuba and the people to whom the Army seeks to minister.
“It is amazing, he said, “how many people can be content with so very little. The lack of transportation, proper running water and basic needs makes one wonder how one person can control the lives of so many.”
In inspecting the Army’s property in Santiago, it was evident that both hall and quarters need significant upgrading. While there has not been a visitor to this part of Cuba from THQ in 37 years, the Army continues to provide a vibrant spiritual presence. According to Thompson, soldiers, especially the young people, are excited to be a part of the Army and desire to worship and serve God.
“Living conditions of the officers are very poor, but it was an excellent visit and I thank God it was possible to be there,” he stated.
Traveling from Santiago to Holgulin took him through several towns, where conditions were all the same, and the Army no exception to the general rundown conditions. Most cars were 1958 vintage and even older; many people stood or sat on the sidewalks, seemingly with nothing to do. It is said that the pay is so low, people would rather not work. Medical treatment and education are free, but often not available.
Originally, the Army owned the Children’s Home at Yoining hall, and also the quarters. The home, taken by the government and used as a school, is still occupied by a former officer who no longer attends the Army. According to Cuban law the Army can’t take it back from him.
Envoy and Mrs. Rivera are in charge at Holugin, where 73 attended a recent meeting and four seekers were recorded.
The work in Santa Clara began in October 1990, and even without having a hall–meetings are held under a shed at the back of a house–the prospects are promising, say Corps Officers Majors Felipe and Inez Prieto. Fifty soldiers are on the roll, with 13 junior soldiers and 18 seekers among the 100 present at the meeting attended by Thompson. While the people have very little, and many uniforms are incomplete, there is a strong desire to identify with the Army.
The six-year-old corps at Bejucal is overseen by the CSM and his wife, and growth is steady: there are 25 soldiers, 10 recruits, 5 adherents, 18 Home League members, 10 Men’s Fellowship members and 13 Junior soldiers.
“Our visit climaxed with a praise meeting at the Havana Corps, where 210 were present,” said Thompson. “The meeting was a real joyous expression of praise to God, and at the end of the two hour session the altar was lined with seekers.”