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A Cuban Boxer Turned Pastor

And How he met the challenge

Starting a church in a communist nation comes with its own set of challenges. Adding to that a neighbor who wants to fight you on the street just for starting a church takes it to another level.

One afternoon Pastor Juandry was working with construction crews on their new church building when his neighbor confronted him in the street.

Approaching him in anger while yelling he communicated to pastor Juandry in clear terms that he didn’t want him trying to start a church on “his” block.

Being respectful Juandry tried to have a conversation with him as neighbors looked on. The man continued to challenge Juandry to a fight in the middle of the street. Some of the onlookers were even encouraging the two - something you would only expect on a playground with kids, not in the middle of the street with a bunch of adults.

Although the neighbor was a bigger man, what he didn’t know was Pastor Juandry just recently stepped out of being a professional boxer. When Juandry was telling me this story, he confessed, “In my flesh, I wanted to hit him. I knew there would be two hits. I would hit him, and he would hit the ground.”

I looked at him and asked, “What did you do?” He said, “Don’t worry. I kept control and didn’t let the situation escalate.”

Several weeks went by, and Pastor Juandry and his wife Yanet found out this man’s mom was in the hospital. They knew he was out of town but were able to identify what hospital his mom was being treated at. They went to visit her, brought her a gift and prayed for her.

About a week later Juandry was walking down the street and saw this man coming toward him. At this moment the man called out Juandry’s name. He thought, “Oh no, here we go.” It was at that moment Juandry felt God speak to his heart, “This is the time; go talk to him.”

The man quickly began to thank Juandry for going to visit his mom. His body language and tone toward pastor Juandry was completely different. He shared how much that meant to him and his mom.

Juandry told him, “We are neighbors. I love you; we are friends. If I can do anything for your family, please let me know.” As they were walking away, Juandry said, “You know, one day I think you will come to my church,” (A bold statement!)

Earlier this year I was in Cuba with Juandry, and he showed me a picture of this neighbor volunteering his time to help build the church!

One defining moment for Pastor Juandry has made an incredible mark on their entire community. He is known as “a real Christian” and has gained the respect of many. Some of the same people who were encouraging the fight saw the authenticity of God’s love, patience and I might add self-control.

Pastor Juandry and Yanet are now holding weekly church services in their new building that World Compassion helped provide. They are already growing tremendously with this new facility. Recently they had over 90 adults on a Sunday. This is a big deal for a new church in Cuba. Most of these people are newer Christians who have come to Christ in the past couple of years.

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This month please pray for:

All funding to come in and cover the cost of the next four church plants

The Church to have favor with local government officials

The people they reach to give their lives to Jesus

The Church in Cuba to keep their zeal and have creativity in reaching the lost in their nation