Thursday, 07 May 2015 16:17

Cuba: Friend or Foe? (part 1)

Written by  Mike and Lisa Conn
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You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:43-45

In the fall of 1983, I was pregnant with our first child, due in late December.  Mike was an Air Force Captain; a navigator on EC-130s, Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC).  Mike and I were used to mobility exercises when he would get called in the middle of the night, quickly grab his mobility bag packed with essentials needed for a sudden deployment, and leave.  Hours later, he would come home.  On October 25, however, he didn’t come home.


In fact, Mike called to ask if I would bring him a few more “essentials”, especially our camera.  I knew then something was up.  Two days prior, a truck bomb had exploded in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 American marines.  We expected President Reagan would respond with swift action and assumed that this was where Mike and his unit were going.  Days were long as I anxiously worried about him, wondering if I would deliver and raise our child alone.


On the other hand, there was unrest much closer to home in the Caribbean.  An attempt to install a Marxist-Leninist government on the island of Grenada had other Caribbean states and the U. S. alarmed.  The following is what happened--now part of our history:  (


At stake was not only a struggle of ideologies, but also a threat to about 1,000 medical students living on the island, many of whom were Americans.


The invasion of Grenada in late 1983 can be seen as a small part of the rivalry between the U.S. and Cuba during the Reagan years. A bloody coup in Grenada, along with a perceived threat to American students on the island provided the U.S. with an excellent excuse to eliminate a Marxist regime allied to Fidel Castro’s Cuba.


On October 25, the president dispatched an invasion force, dubbed “Operation Urgent Fury,” to liberate the island and rescue the students.


Grenadan troops numbered about 1,200, with about 800 Cubans (mostly construction workers with handguns) and 60 advisors from the Soviet Union, North Korea, East Germany, Bulgaria, and Libya. That small contingent was soon confronted by a U.S.-led international force of about 7,300 men.


The operation was deemed a success, with minimal U.S. casualties (19 killed, 106 injured), and was wrapped up in mid-December. The remaining Cubans and other survivors were arrested; native Grenadans were released, and a pro-American government took power.


Mike returned home from Grenada six weeks later, and in time for Ashley’s birth. 


Fast Forward Thirty Years.  In November 2013 we made our first mission trip to Cuba.  We never dreamed that we would be ministering to our enemies from 30 years ago--to people to whom religious freedom was denied for so many years.  The communist government declared Cuba an atheist state, however, religious restrictions began to loosen in 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today, Christian couples in the Protestant churches of Cuba crave Biblical teaching and desire to overcome Cuba’s 70% divorce rate. 


Entering Cuba four times in the last two years has been made possible by our friends and supporters who have answered God’s call to send us.  In addition, we are so thankful for our prayer warriors, especially those who were praying during this last trip (April 2-10), because of the spiritual warfare we were fighting.  We don’t know what the future holds, but what we do know is that God has blessed us with strong friendships in Cuba.  We’ve been able to teach Biblical principles that assist the people in their walk with the Lord and in building a strong marriage and family team.  During our last training session, 125 people attended, including 20 teenagers and several singles.  Leadership couples have been trained to continue to strengthen marriages and families in their church and to encourage couples as they bring up the next generation of Godly men and women in Cuba. 


Finally, we thank the individuals and Sunday school classes who helped us purchase the “Armor of God” coins.  These keepsake coins mean so much to the Cuban people.  They understand the passage from Ephesians 6 and are reminded also that there are people in Alabama and other states who love and pray for them.  Please pray for us, too!  Ephesians 6:19 says,  Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.


Next month:  Cuba: Friend or Foe? (part 2)

Life Application:  Who is your enemy?  Will you pray for them as God has commanded?






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