A National Vision Emerging (January 2011)
On 22 January, 2011 three hundred and thirty three pastors and leaders from 23 denominations across Havana met at the Evangelical League church (Liga Evangelica). It is a church that has been instrumental through the years in promoting church unity across Cuba. They believed that the Divine Prayer Clock conference could be key in establishing a vision for uniting the church in Havana through prayer and so promoted the conference inviting lead pastors and denominational leaders from across the city. There was an incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the conference went on long past the scheduled close. Everyone was impacted by the teaching and the outpouring of the Spirit. One of the leaders of the Evangelical League stood up at the end and declared that the Divine Prayer Clock needed to be adopted as a nation wide strategy for uniting the church through prayer. The news of the teaching, unity and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Havana spread quickly to other locations, even beyond Cuba’s borders. Within days, churches in Florida were asking for the conference. The next weekend, 22 January 2011, another conference was held in the central city of Camaguey, with 281 pastors and leaders in attendance. The outpouring of the Spirit in the teaching and unity was again evident as participants were renewed in their passion for Christ and His church on the island.
On The Verge Of A Major Revival (November 2010)
From the 23 to 25 November, 2010 almost 300 pastors and leaders from all of Cuba’s major denominations met for 4 days near Havana to seek God. From the moment they arrived from every corner of the nation prayer teams were organized to cover the retreat with prayer around the clock. Wherever we walked on the retreat grounds, whether 3 pm in the afternoon or 3 am in the morning the buzz of prayer could be heard. And it was not long until the gates of heaven opened and the Lord began speaking with his people. The message was clear: “I am raising up my army in Cuba in 2011. This is the year. The time of the valley of dry bones is over. The time of denominational rivalries and mistrust is over. The time of a church without hope and fruit is over. I am bringing the bones together, uniting you with tendons and ligaments of forgiveness and reconciliation. I am giving you muscles and skin and raising you up to be a powerful spiritual army (Ezekiel 37). Listen to what I am doing, the bones are beginning to rattle. Move now! Go to your brothers and sisters of other denominations! Guard the unity of the Spirit! Now is the time! Do not wait!” As the word was given and the pastors and leaders responded, the Spirit came in power. Charismatic pastors and leaders were praying and ministering over baptist pastors, and baptist pastors and leaders over charismatic pastors. Tears flowed. Hearts were being transformed. Then testimonies began to pour in from those who had been at previous retreats. The first battalions of the spiritual army were already seeing results. A baptist pastor shared how he had met with a charismatic pastor in his community. They were the two major evangelical churches, in a community that was a center for witchcraft and had been very resistant to the message of Christ. They realized that only united as the Kingdom of Priests, in intercession, could they begin to establish Christ’s Kingdom with power in tearing down the strongholds. They decided that the most important step was to reconcile their congregations by creating a joint 24 hour prayer coverage over the community. The results have been astounding. The enemies strongholds and resistance has come down so quickly that it has caught everyone by surprise. So many people are coming to the services and coming to Christ that they have asked for all other denominations to come from other communities and help them. They simply cannot keep up with the way the community is opening up to Christ. Through this a discovery has been made. The enemy’s strongholds to resist the gospel are built on the disunity and conflict between the believers of each community. As soon as the believers unite as Christ’s government in reconciliation and prayer Satan’s strongholds crumble, their source of strength removed. It is time for believers everywhere to wake up to this reality. It is time to retake our cities for Christ!
First Key Sign For Revival: Reconciliation (Summer/Fall 2010).
In the province of Sancti Spiritu (Holy Spirit) in a city called Trinidad (Trinity) all of the churches except one turned out for the Divine Prayer Clock training. The work of the Holy Spirit was powerful in melting the walls of distrust and bitterness that had arisen between the local churches and pastors. The impact was such that the next day the conversation on the street was about what had happened at the conference. God was opening doors not only for renewal in the church, but a renewed interest in the community to hear of a love powerful enough to heal deep wounds and reconcile differences. In Havana a Baptist pastor felt convicted to visit the pentecostal churches and invite them to host a prayer conference as a united leadership. They did. And again the work of healing and unity was significant. In Pinar del Rio, a pastor hosting a Divine Prayer Clock conference said that the passion for prayer in the conferences reminded him of the passion for prayer that was evident just before the major revival in Cuba in the 90’s. He believed that major revival was just around the corner.
Satan Soundly Defeated Through Prayer (Summer 2010)
There couldn’t have been more anticipation for a prayer retreat than this one. Buses were arriving from all over the country with pastors and leaders from most of the major denominations to seek God together for 4 days. All denominational agendas and traditions were to be put aside to hear God as the united Bride of Christ in Cuba. However, just as the everyone was being directed to their cabins the administrator of the retreat facility called us aside and gave us the shocking message that the prayer activities could no longer be carried out at the retreat center. Suddenly, as the retreat leadership, we could feel a state of panic beginning to overwhelm us. What would we do with all of these pastors and leaders, many who had been on a bus throughout the night to arrive at this long anticipated national prayer event? Then we realized that God was testing us. As leaders of the event, would we position our selves in prayer before him who had all authority in heaven and on earth in expectation of his intervention?Could we believe if God was closing one door that he would open a greater door? Yes. So the leadership team huddled together in prayer and expectation of an answer from heaven. What we did not know is that 10 kilometers away a Baptist pastor (see photo) had been praying, not even aware of our retreat or predicament. As he was praying God gave him a vision of crowds of people arriving at his rural church with plastic outdoor chairs. God also caused him to take special note in the vision of a woman who was wearing a red dress. After receiving the vision the pastor quickly went to his wife to share the amazing vision. About that time, we got up from prayer and went to seek a pastor’s wife who knew the area well enough to ask her of another location that could host the prayer retreat activities. She said that the only possibility would be a baptist church about 10 kilometers away, but she did not know if the pastor would be willing or ready for such an event. We asked her to lead us to the pastor and the church. Upon arrival we explained the situation to the pastor, who promptly agreed and even asked if he and his leaders could participate. But he did not share the vision he had received. The next day the buses arrived with the crowds of pastors and leaders with their plastic chairs from the retreat center. The excitement on the baptist pastor’s face was evident. And then his eyes went wide as he saw the woman with the red dress. It was at that moment that he shared the vision with us with much emotion. What a way to start a prayer retreat. The presence of God was palpable as we celebrated a movement of prayer that the enemy could not stop. God was on the move and was organizing and preparing an army of intercessors against which the gates of hell would not prevail.
A Whole City United In Prayer (Spring 2010).
The prayer retreat in Matanzas, November, 2009 (see below) seemed to bring the breakthrough that we had been awaiting – a movement of prayer that would reach all denominations. It was after this retreat that key leaders of a denomination that had been instrumental in the previous prayer revival in the early 90’s decided to join the movement. Then an invitation was given to hold a city wide prayer conference in Camaguey to give training on the Divine Prayer Clock. No one really knew what type of turnout and participation to expect. However, pastors and leaders from 30 denominations participated in the event. It was truly a representation from the whole church of the city of Camaguey, a city of about 1 million people. After the event many pastors and leaders commented that they were astounded at the turnout. It was the first time since the revival in the late 90’s that they had seen the city church leaders united in one spirit, crying out to God for the church, their city and their nation. Others testified at God’s work of healing and restoration, renewing vision and passion.
God’s Glory In Cuba! (November 2009).
The fire of prayer intensified at the retreat in Matanzas. The venue shifted from Santa Clara to Matanzas to a location near a lighthouse. There was a profound sense from the leadership as they prayed for the event, that Christ was going to manifest himself gloriously as the only true light that could turn on the nation of Cuba, and bring them out of the darkness. “In Him was life and this life lights up all humanity” (John 1:9). The understanding of that light, however, was more than mental understanding of the truth about Christ. There was a call to something much deeper – the call to divine intimacy. This was an opportunity, as with Moses, to cry out to see his glory. It was a cry to see Him in a deeper way. One young leader had been given a vision by God many months previous to the retreat. God told him in the vision that he wanted to walk with him as a Father with a son, just enjoying each other’s company. He said that the sign of the confirmation of the vision would be when he would be walking along a beach, and someone would extend his hand out to him at which moment he would powerfully feel the presence of God. This young leader had forgotten about the vision, until one day walking along the beach at the retreat spot, another christian man extended his hand to steady him as he walked in the waves, and suddenly he was anointed with God’s presence. Then he remembered the vision, and reminded all of us that God’s focus is not so much our work for him as our intimacy with him. It is out of intimacy that he would empower us for his work. The second last night of the retreat, the speaker declared that in God’s intimate love for us he has given us every blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). We are not lacking anything from God. But then he said you will only become aware of the incredible blessings given us as we release them to others. We have been chosen in the line of Abraham, through Christ, to be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:3, 22:18). The blessings cannot be experienced in their fullness if we try to hang onto them. It is only as we release them to others that we will experience the power of God’s love flowing through us. He then said to us to find another participant and to lay hands on them and begin to bless them. As we did so the anointing of the Spirit began to flow powerfully, in liberation, healing, and joy. At one point a large group of the gathering began to testify of seeing “specks of gold” on the peoples clothes, on the floor…everywhere. The next morning some people said they could still see it. Was God revealing his glory to us as he had to Moses?
A Unstoppable Fire Ignited In Central Cuba (Summer/Fall 2009). Several Divine Prayer Clock conferences were held for the first time in central Cuba, in the Provinces of Sancti Spiritus and Camaguey. In Sancti Spiritus it was hosted by a church in the rural area, attended by members and leadership of 4 denominations. There was a wonderful spirit of unity as participants began to intercede for their region and nation. A conference was also held in the province of Camaguey, hosted by the Assemblies of God. During the conference it was prophesied that God had been waiting for his people to respond to his divine order for prayer and intercession. He declared that through the teaching of the Divine Prayer Clock a fire had been ignited that no-one would be able to put out. One of the conference speakers prophesied over the name of the Church (Puerta a los Cielos) “Gateway to Heaven” that God had chosen that congregation to be a portal for the move of God and the vision, for they had remained faithful to God’s call for intercession. Through the years, at 5 am each morning, most of the church has waited on God together interceding for their community and nation.
Knees Miraculously Healed To Pray! (March 2009). While the prayer revival is spreading to other denominations, God continues to emphasize the key to the revival. While one day”every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord” the day was now for the church. It was time to bow the knee, it was time to confess His name, it was time to pray. He was to be acknowledged as Lord. The focus was to no longer be building projects but rather building prayer altars across the land. The Lord would work through prayer. A sign was given for these words, as a woman who was not known for prophetic words or gifted in healing, declared that the Lord was going to heal all who were not able to bend the knee. She promptly then went over to a woman who had not been able to kneel and pray for 15 years because of an accident. She put her hand on the knee of the woman, prayed for her and she was healed, able to kneel and give thanks to the Lord. Later to further demonstrate her healing she did a dance to the cheers of conference participants.
The last afternoon of the retreat all the participants gathered to share any words that the Lord may have given them during prayer times for the Church. Rather than hearing the voice of the Lord from one leader, it was listening to the voice of the Lord through his Body. One powerful moment took place as a woman who could not read or write stood and began to share the words the Lord had spoken to her heart. The Holy Spirit convicted powerfully, and there was not a dry eye in the place. Paul’s word to not overlook those who appear to be the least in the Body, because they are actually the most important, became abundantly clear. The absolute necessity of the whole Body of Christ listening and declaring the voice of the Lord was rediscovered during the retreat. The place of leadership was merely to “direct traffic,” facilitating and encouraging the full function of the Body in their ministry gifts, rather than they themselves dominating the ministry. Afterward, the leadership confessed the joy and excitement at seeing the Body functioning and empowered by the Spirit. Things were as they should be.
Alcoholics Come To Christ – Set Free Through Prayer! (Summer/Fall 2008). After the initial retreat, prayer conferences were given in the Alliance house churches, with a vision of stirring prayer in the Alliance house church movement. In that process, the wife of a pastor from the Open Bible denomination, invited the leadership to give the teaching to the members of her congregation. She had attended the conference at an Alliance house church through the invitation of a friend. Finally, a prayer conference was scheduled, and the Holy Spirit moved in a significant way during the training. However, when the prayer network was initiated beyond the Alliance, the impact was incredible. The prayer services became the main event for the church and especially for seekers. The Holy Spirits presence was palapable at the prayer meetings, much more so than at the other services. The result was not only that many came to Christ in the prayer meetings, but among them were alcoholics who were completely set free of their addiction, and those with immoral sexual life patterns who were also set free. That house church and others are now experiencing a revival. In addition to the the Spirit’s work in alcoholics and those with sexual addictions, marriages are being reconciled and renewed after being on the verge of divorce, not to mention physical healings and other manifestations.
However, the most common signs of the work of the Spirit has been deliverance of men from alcoholism. And that becomes even more significant because of the reality of the very high incidence of alcoholism among cuban men. In a town called Casilda, on the south coast of Cuba, this has been the key to reaching the community where the majority of men over the age of 15 are alcoholics. The breakthrough has come through God’s work in a man who was renown as an alcoholic. His wife faithfully attended the local Alliance church, and prayed for her husband. However, it was only in this prayer revival that finally her husband decided to attend a service. When he was prayed for, the Holy Spirit fell on him and he was completely set free from all desire for alcohol. God is now using him in a powerful way to reach the other men in the community. The Holy Spirit in a few minutes transformed him from the town drunk into the town’s evangelist. Now the man’s passion is not alcohol but God’s presence. He spends much time in prayer and fasting. He shared how recently after a time of fasting and prayer God told him to go and pray for healing for a someone he did not know. He had never done that before but knew he could not disobey even though he was fearful. When he did he said he felt a powerful electrical current and heat pass through his arm to the person he was praying for. And that day injured joints and muscles were completely healed. Who would have ever thought that God’s strategy for extending his kingdom would be something so “harmless” as prayer. Jesus said: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17).
Cuba Prayer Movement Launched (March 2008).
The movement began in Santa Clara, in March of 2008, in a Presbyterian retreat centre. The pastors and leaders were from the Alliance house church movment in Cuba. They had come as a result of an invitation and challenge to put everything else aside to seek the Lord for four days in prayer. Some participants confessed that even after the four hour bus ride to get to the retreat center, there were significant doubts about gathering to pray for four days. Some had decided to head back home on the bus, but then at the last minute decided to stay. They were very glad that they did, as God rewarded them for their commitment to wait on him with an incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit in reconciliation and renewal. Visions were renewed and new ministries launched. This first retreat established the standard for the future retreats, as the decision was made to seek God for the anointing and vision required for transforming the nation of Cuba. No longer would they seek to adapt programs or strategies brought in from other nations. They wanted to know God’s specific plan for Cuba. An exciting historic reality was the location of the event. The founder of the Alliance, A.B. Simpson, received his start in the Presbyterian Church, where he received a vision from the Lord for a movement of churches. The alliance of believers was not to be another denomination but rather a movement that would unite churches and leaders from every denomination in holiness, healing, and mission. It was at that retreat, during the last meal together that the cry of faith went up to the heavens that the Cuban C&MA be given the opportunity to reopen the wells of the original vision of the founder.