Almost exactly sixty-one years after Fidel Castro and his revolutionary forces gained control over the island nation of Cuba, something new is underway.

Recently a team of Guatemalan Bible school students and teachers teamed up with local pastors to encourage small but growing churches that are changing their communities in the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba.

The team went ready to serve, teach, pray and loaded with supplies to provide resources to the local church and to give to families in need as they visited them in their homes.

In house after house, the team saw hearts open to Christ, others were healed, and more came asking for prayer.

These students are from ASELSI, a Guatemalan-based bible institute, where they learn God’s word and put it into practice. Besides their Bible training, they spent time preparing together and six months of training seminars and practical outreaches to learn how to reach out in their own communities with prayer, faith, and God’s guidance, so they would be ready to do the same in Cuba.

 This mission trip to Cuba was one of the first of what leaders hope will continue to grow as Guatemalan believers learn, grow, and go as a missionary force that will launch the gospel to the nations from Guatemala.

 One of the key events of the trip was the graduation of the first five Cubans to complete ASELSI’s two-year basic level bible study program.

 Packed into a hot, tiny church building were friends and family who came to witness the graduation and celebrate with them.

 These graduates are the first of many more who are already studying in their own classes in another part of the city. They are looking forward to the graduation of their own scheduled for next year.

 After the graduation and a hearty lunch of roasted pork and local dishes, the team lead children’s ministry and taught a conference focused on strengthening families.

 More than an event, this conference was also a training time for the local church to gain practical teachings for their families and experience in children’s ministry.

 After years of government control over religion, many of these new believers are excited to learn how they themselves can reach others in their own communities with Christ.

 This trip is just one example of how the world is opening to Guatemalans. There are over one hundred and thirty countries that accept Guatemalan passports without getting a visa ahead of arrival and friendly Guatemalans fit well with many other cultures.

 Our dream is to see the Guatemalan church rise up and take what they have been given beyond their own churches and into the nations. ASELSI and others are helping them prepare and as Jesus said, “go into all the world and make disciples.”