How can ministering in other countries get so addictive? It begins with going. You must enter, touch, feel, and gaze upon foreign fields to understand. That’s when verses like these resonate most:


That which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have gazed upon and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life. And this is the life that was revealed; we have seen it and testified to it, and we proclaim to you. – 1 Jn. 1:1-2


Jill and I are grateful Jay and Luanne Carter joined us in Cuba over Spring Break. This week’s blog, “REST,” is from Luanne and testifies to her experience. Enjoy!



I find it relatively easy to share the hope of the gospel in Cuba. Life there can be complicated – food shortages, medicine shortages, blackouts, sometimes no running water – the list goes on and on. So, when I share Jesus’ word in Matthew 11 – “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest,” His invitation is usually well received.


I find such contrasts in the lives of my Cuban brothers and sisters in Christ and my own and other Christians in the U.S. They have such scarcity of resources, and we have abundance, to the point of renting storage units for our excess.


Cubans live in houses that largely have had no improvements for many, many years, and the furnishings are modest, yet they welcome us into their homes with tremendous love and hospitality. They offer us coffee at great sacrifice. In America, we are reluctant to open our doors if we don’t know the person knocking, and we certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable letting them in our homes. Life in Cuba moves at a slower pace; Cubans prioritize relationships and never seem to be rushed. I think about the frantic pace of life in the U.S. and how we pride ourselves on our accomplishments and multi-tasking. But at what price to our well-being? Where is the rest?


While we were in the city of Santa Clara, we learned about the school shooting in Nashville. Our oldest daughter works in a Nashville school, has friends who work at Covenant Presbyterian School, and knows children who attend the school. This hit her and us hard. Aren’t we in America “weary and heavy-laden” and needing the rest only Jesus provides?


On our last night in Santa Clara, we worshipped on top of a mountain overlooking the city. I couldn’t stop watching my sweet little friend Lorena singing to the Lord with such passion! I could hear her voice over all the adults! While George was leading a devotion, I motioned for her to come sit with me. I played with her hair and pointed to my eye, my heart, and back to her, and she returned the gesture – things you do when you can’t speak the same language:) We had a special connection from the time we met because we thought she said her name was Luanne, and no one in Cuba had heard of my name, nor could they pronounce it.  
At the end of the night, the children and students stood in a circle facing the city, and the adults prayed over each person. When I got to Lorena, I knelt on the ground to see her face. As I began to pray for her – the Lord’s protection over her, the Lord’s provision over her, the Lord to watch over her – I began to weep, not the sweet tear rolling down your face cry but the ugly cry. And then I noticed Lorena was also crying. The Lord’s love and presence in that moment were so tangible. It was genuinely a mountaintop encounter with the Living God and a memory I will cherish forever.


Lorena had no idea what I was praying, and the Lord just overwhelmed my heart with love for this beautiful little girl. I know her life will be full of challenges, but to see her worship so purely, I know she has all she needs in Jesus! How thankful I am for the love of Jesus and the rest He and He only offers our weary souls!
The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you and I will give you REST.”


Exodus 33:14


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