Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Suddenly He Opened His Eyes

Tears filled my eyes as “Pastor O”; a 70 year-old Cuban friend of mine recounted a story to me that he describes as “the greatest thing he has ever seen.” When he prefaced his story with this statement I was totally intrigued because I have known him for about a decade and have listened to many stories over the years that I have been traveling and helping this movement of churches in Cuba.

He has been a leader of a movement which started before the great revolution, through years of secrecy, and decades of persecution so I knew this story had to be really good! Oh yeah, one more thing, though he has had the chance to emigrate to the United States he has refused because as he says, “I am called to Cuba even though it has meant time in jail on several occasions.” So as I sat he told me that in the early 1990’s I had the chance to visit the United States. Upon entry I had to wait for two days in order to get my next flight to see my family who had emigrated many years earlier. As I walked out of the airport I was able to meet a friendly Spanish speaker who put me in touch with a group of Cubans in Miami. As he took me to their church I was invited to stay with them. I was able to rest and get cleaned up but that evening I was asked by the lady of the house of I would be willing to go to the hospital and see her husband who was near death.

Soon I was entering the hospital and as I was escorted to the intensive care unit I prayed. When I entered what I found startled me. The ladies husband was lying with his eyes partially open, just the whites part showing and his mouth wide open drawing occasional breaths. If it wasn’t for the occasional breaths I would think that he was already dead. Composing myself I asked the Holy Spirit to be present. Not knowing if he would respond I began to preach to him about God’s great gift of love, sacrifice, and life. I declared that if he wanted forgiveness that nothing could separate him from God and the forgiveness of his sin. If he wanted this he should squeeze my hand. Suddenly the man’s eyes rolled to the front and opened, his gasping mouth closing slowly.

I continued by saying that I had come all the way from Cuba to tell him that today was his day of salvation and that he should not wait. Tears began to stream down the man’s face as I felt a gentle squeeze. Not being satisfied I wanted to confirm the decision so I said if you are serious squeeze my hand again? A firm squeeze was the man’s response. I sat down and began to tell the stories of Jesus, praying occasionally for healing, and describing the Kingdom of God. Then I quietly left as he drifted off to sleep.

Before I left for my next stop in the United States I was told that the man received the ultimate healing of eternal life. This trip to the United States was no coincidence but rather a preplanned God event to redeem this one man’s soul.

I realized there were now three men who were changed by God’s Spirit that day, the sick man, “Pastor O”, and now me. Returning to the island “Pastor O” continues to this day serving the living God and winning souls. Thank you for your prayers for Cuba and the many leaders that I work with as they reach people and plant churches.

This is your investment. This is your joy.

Mark Szymanski

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