Vibrant church faces permanent confiscation
The Maranatha First Baptist Church was visited by provincial officials from the Ministry of Housing last week and informed in a highly intimidating manner that their buildings would be confiscated on a permanent basis by state authorities. The 1,000-strong church is based in the town of Holguin, in the northeast of the Caribbean island, and has a very active local ministry working with vulnerable members of the community such as the elderly and the disabled. The church has also planted many new congregations through their outreach work in the region, and runs a thriving youth ministry. Despite being registered, the church now faces confiscation threats.
Prior CSW prayer success brings further prayer requests
Followers of CSW's work may remember the case of the Yamaniguey Baptist Church in 2005, during which this church was threatened with demolition. After CSW supporters prayed and campaigned the government relented and did not follow through with their threats. The pastor of the Yamaniguey Baptist Church is now the youth pastor of the Maranatha First Baptist Church in Holguin. In the wake of previous prayer success for Yamaniguey Baptist Church, Maranatha First Baptist Church has now asked for urgent prayer and letters of support from CSW.
Reasons behind the threats
Growing churches often face authority harassment and intimidation as a result of a perceived threat to the total stronghold of the Cuban authorities in every area of life, including religion. CSW suspects that Maranatha First Baptist Church's harassment is due to a combination of its growth, positive impact on local communities, and relative remoteness in terms of tourism.
CSW remains active in presenting the cases of persecuted pastors, families and churches to relevant international authorities, and engaging in high-level lobbying to promote respect for human rights and particularly religious freedom in Cuba.
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Write to support them
In addition to praying for the Church, supporters can send letters and cards to Maranatha First Baptist Church at:
Primera Iglesia Bautista Maranatha
Fomento 298 e/ Marta y Luz Caballero
Ciudad de Holguin,
As well as your prayers, you can practically support Cuban Christians through Freedom Gifts. For just �15, you can pay for CSW staff to have a 15 minute phone call with pastors and families suffering persecution in Cuba. These calls are a vital lifeline of encouragement and support for them, as well as providing first-hand information to CSW, underpinning our advocacy work. Find out how to buy a Freedom Gift here: http://csw.org.uk/gifts/index.php?route=product/product&path=40&product_id=67
Make a donation to support CSW's work in Cuba and around the world or call our friendly admin team on 0845 456 5464.