Cuban Christians Faithfully Endure
EARLIER this year over 100,000 Cuban refugees entered the United States. Among them were about 3,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, most of whom were physically forced to leave Cuba. Why?
It is part of the religious persecution they have been experiencing in Cuba. Jehovah’s Witnesses advocate God’s kingdom and proclaim it as the only hope for solving mankind’s problems, even as Jesus Christ directed. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) The Cuban government does not like this, and so makes life difficult for the Witnesses. But despite even brutal persecution, Cuban Christians faithfully endure.
One Witness refugee told of being stripped naked, wrapped in barbed wire and left out on top of a roof as food for mosquitoes. When the mosquitoes would bite, he would flinch, ripping the flesh. He had many scars to remind him of the ordeal. Others were put down in holes filled with human wastes, and were kept there for days without food.
An 89-year-old woman, who is still in Cuba, has been a full-time Kingdom publisher for 40 years. Gnarled and bent over, she hobbles about with her cane, fearlessly telling all whom she meets about God’s kingdom. Uniformed officials have scorned her, saying: “Old woman, don’t you know you can be put in prison for what you are doing?”
She replies without fear: “I’m too old now, you can’t find any use for me in prison anyway.” So they leave her alone, and she continues to preach openly in the streets.
Youths also are faithfully enduring tests of their faith. Refugees tell of one Cuban youth who was just starting school. He was asked by his teacher to put on the neckerchief with the triangular insignia. This is worn in Cuba to symbolize support of the State. The Witness youth, however, explained to the teacher that he could not wear such a political symbol for he is a worshiper of Jehovah God.
The teacher tried to convince the boy to put the neckerchief on, but to no avail. In exasperation, she went out to the street and called in a policeman, asking if he could persuade the youth to change his mind. The policeman pulled out his revolver and pointed it at the boy’s head, telling him to wear it—or else. After a few seconds, the boy looked up and asked: “Why do you not shoot, for I am not going to wear it?” Dumbfounded, the policeman strode out of the room.
Besides putting many Witnesses into prisons and concentration camps, the government has restricted the distribution of Bible literature, including the Bible itself. One refugee reported that there was only one New World Translation Bible for the whole town where she lived. It was buried in a certain place known only to the Witnesses. In this town, when a piece of Bible literature is obtained, children as young as nine years old copy it by hand. Thus even the youngsters learn Bible truths well because of doing so much copying.
One of the refugees told about receiving a copy of the book “Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It” late at night. She had until early the next morning before another Witness was to pick it up. By then she had finished reading it, and had made notes. In this way others in town could be helped with the information. Listening to the refugee tell this experience, a Witness from Miami said: “Sometimes we don’t show the appreciation for Bible truths that these brothers have shown.”
During the last several months all the Witness refugees have been sponsored, and now have places to live. Many Witnesses in the United States opened their homes to provide accommodations for these fellow Christians whom they had never seen before—surely a demonstration of the love that Christ said would identify his true disciples.
The refugee camp officials noted the contrast between the Witnesses and other Cuban refugees. When officials at the Miami camp that was set up in the Orange Bowl were asked if they were aware that there were Witness refugees in the camp, they replied: “Of course we are! They are the best behaved people here.”
Truly, the faith of Cuban Christians is an inspiration to their brothers everywhere. We can look forward to reading more about their faithful endurance.