Canadians make up the majority of foreign visitors to Cuba, and have been cheering for church congregants who are flourishing under difficult conditions on the Caribbean isle. One group decided to do more than just cheer for their fellow Christians. Canadian Bible Society (CBS) representatives plan to provide the Cuban Church, and Cuban Christians, with a million bibles in the next 18 months.
"The Canadian Bible Society is coming alongside the Church in Cuba, a church that grows by 15 percent each year, to provide Bibles that will change lives by bringing God's Word to the people there," said Alain Montano Hdez, leader of the Cuban Biblical Commission.
"This is a country where scraps of Scripture have been passed on pieces of paper hand-to-hand between believers, because Bibles just were not available."
Like many developing nations, Cuba's church growth outpaces its resources. "There are far more believers than there are Bibles," said Pastor Joel Ortega Dopico, Presbyterian pastor and head of the Cuban Church Council. "Almost the exact reverse situation that we find in countries like Canada. Our initiative with our partner, Million Bible Mission in Cuba, will help to put a Bible in the hands of over a million Cuban Christians."
The Million Bible Mission is an initiative of the American Bible Society's Cuba project, whose website indicated the initiative will reach five distinct audiences: school-aged children receiving their first Bible; teens and college-age youth; adult new believers; prisoners; and seminary students and clergy.
Canadian Bible Society managers urge Canadians to participate in providing Bibles to the tropical, yet impoverished, island that is such a popular vacation destination for so many Canadian travelers.
"In a recent visit there, many, many people were expressing their gratitude to the Canadian Bible Society for Bibles," said Reg Graves, CBS Development Officer.
"They would testify while hugging their Bibles and tears running down their cheeks 'thank you, thank you Canadian Bible Society for making this happen.'"
A person on social media responded to this bible initiative with a prayer: "May not only the sun shine in Cuba, but, may also the sun shine His Glory and Righteousness there. I pray that many there see the Light of Jesus Christ."
CBS spokespeople said the Republic of Cuba, with a population of 11 million and nearly 100 percent literacy rate, is experiencing unprecedented growth of Christianity. While the Cuban government does not have statistics on the growth of Christianity in the island nation, many estimate growth is occurring at a pace of between 10 percent to 15 percent per year.
One CBS supporter, Stacey Noble, shared online that she will never forget the looks on the faces of Haitian missionary students receiving their own French bibles. "Jumping, singing, praising God. To think so many had lived their whole lives without one. Thank you, Canadian Bible Society."