Church employees receive the pallets of paper and Sabbath school lesson quarterlies shipped to Cuba on behalf of the Inter-American Division and its publishing house IADPA on July 6, 2020. The shipment came in months after the church’s print shop had to close because there was a shortage of paper on the island and arrangements to import paper from other countries was impossible during the pandemic. [Photo: Aldo Perez/Cuba Union]

Julio 16, 2020 | Havana, Cuba | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

When a paper shortage hit Cuba several months ago, the Seventh-day Adventist’s print shop was forced to close. Not being able to find paper anywhere on the island at a time when the world began its lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic meant the church was facing a serious problem.

Because access to Christian radio, television, and online programs are restricted or too expensive for most Seventh-day Adventists and the community in Cuba, printed Sabbath school quarterly lessons have become the most valuable resource to strengthen the study of the Bible among the membership, said Pastor Aldo Perez, president of the church in Cuba.

“The Sabbath school quarterly is the only printed vehicle to spiritually feed the church throughout the year,” said Perez.  Local leaders exhausted efforts looking for paper options outside of Cuba without success.

Church workers pack the Adult an children Sabbath school lesson quarterlies for the third quarter at the print shop for transporting to the the four conference office on the island so it gets to congregations. [Photo: Silvio Ferran/Cuba Union]

“We prayed about it, had made plans to inform the membership to begin studying the previous Sabbath school lesson based on the book of Daniel and presented our situation to the administration of the Inter-American Division back in April,” explained Perez.  “It was a very stressful situation.”

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the church was forced to repeat several quarterlies, but during the last few decades the church had never been faced with such a dire situation, added Perez.

Because of the high cost of shipping, the Inter-American Division Publishing Association (IADPA) sends the quarterly material to be printed locally and the Division pays for its printing in the church’s print shop in Cuba. The quarterlies are delivered to the conference offices and local pastors pick them up and deliver them to their congregations.

“This is like pure gold for our church here,” said Dayami Rodríguez, communication director for the church in Cuba. “The church in Cuba had never seen such a high quality quarterly and so beautiful.”

Pastor Aldo Joel Perez, president of the church in Cuba. [Photo: Courtesy of Cuba Union]

When a shipment with 11,000 Sabbath school quarterlies for adults and children and pallets of paper arrived in the port of Havana on June 29, church leaders and members rejoiced at the sight of God’s answered prayer.

Local leaders received the shipment on July 6 and quickly moved to distribute them across the island.

“The church in Cuba is so happy today because it has seen the hand of God working yet another miracle in our favor,” said Perez. “Many have called our offices grateful that they can study this third quarterly filled with such important messages for the time in which we are living.”

Pastor Perez said that just last week churches are beginning to partially open for worship services and members are rejoicing in God’s blessings.  There are challenges still facing members in many ways on the island, but no COVID-19 cases among the membership have been reported.

Church members worship together at the Sancti Spiritus Central Adventist Church in Sancti Spiritus in the central part of Cuba, on July 4, 2020. [Photo: Courtesy of Cuba Union]

The church’s print shop will soon begin printing the fourth quarterly lessons and make them available at the end of September. “Beyond that, it’s in God’s hands,” Perez said.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cuba has nearly 38,000 church members in 491 churches and congregations. The church oversees four conferences, a theological seminary, and a print shop.

Dayamí Rodríguez contributed to this report.

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