A few months ago, I was invited by Flama Seminary to teach an intensive ministerial course on spiritual formation to a group of ministerial students from The Wesleyan Church of Cuba. With this invitation, I heard the Lord’s voice, saying deep down in my heart, “Whom shall I send?” Without any doubt, I said, “Here am I. Send me!” I never imagined how God wanted to transform my heart with this experience.
My spirit was moved before I preached at the Pentecost Sunday service in a ‘casa culto’ (house church) near Santa Clara. Rev. Nehemías Cárdenas, The National Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church of Cuba, shared a testimony that broke my heart.
Rev. Cárdenas was thankful for the years of famine and poverty the Cuban people have been going through. From his perspective, this situation fueled a revival on the Church amid the governmental persecution against the believers.
During those times they didn’t have much, they but never lacked the essential things. They didn’t find God–He was the One who found them. They are a living example of what the Apostle Paul stated in the epistle of Romans when he said, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love . . . revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Every experience shared by my students during the spiritual formation course gave proof that Henri Nouwen, a well-known theologian, was right when he defined the spiritual formation as a formation of the heart. To my students, the hard times gave them the opportunity to know God not only as their Savior, but as their Provider. For them, God is on the move despite the social and political situation. They know his creative power has never and will never stop. There is no doubt they are convinced that all things are possible for those who believe.
Teaching is always a learning experience. The time I spent in Cuba showed me the characteristics of a true servant leader. Faith is meant to be experienced. Only if I’m grateful and compassionate will be able to act as a visible reminder of the Holy.
2Lt Iraida Álvarez is a U.S. Air Force Chaplain candidate.
Photos by Prof / Rev. Damaris Sanchez.