Colombia: Adventist Youth Delegation in First Meeting Outside Cuba Since 1959
For the first time since 1959, a Cuban Seventh-day Adventist youth delegation—believed to be the largest ever from the island—traveled outside that country to participate in an Inter-America church region youth event.
YOUTH ARRIVE: Cuban Adventist delegation
greet the Inter-America’s Youth Leadership and
Prayer Convention in Medellín, Colombia. It
was the first time in 48 years that a group of
Adventist youth had been allowed to travel
outside the country, church leaders said.
Amid cheers and shouts, 22 young Cubans were welcomed on July 26 in the crowded Plaza Mayor Convention Center in Medellín, Colombia, as they joined more than 5,000 of their fellow Adventists gathered for Inter-America’s first Youth Leadership and Prayer Convention.
“It’s an honor for us to be with you tonight,” said Ruber Alvarez, youth ministries director for the Adventist Church in Cuba.
The group had difficulties clearing visas and detoured to Colombia’s neighboring country of Venezuela, spending sleepless nights and undergoing a 36-hour bus ride to arrive near the end of the youth event.
“This is truly a miracle,” said Bernardo Rodriguez, Inter-American regional youth leader, as he embraced Alvarez on-stage as the teary-eyed crowd cheered. “We are so excited you are here. God has answered our prayers and allowed you to enjoy this fellowship with us.”
A second group of 22 delegates from Cuba arrived the following day to present their youth report to the expectant crowd.
SAVED TO SERVE: Pastor Ruber Alvarez, Youth
Ministries director for the Seventh-day Adventist
Church in Cuba, tells more than 5,000 Adventist
youth how the youth in Cuba are committed to
salvation and service.
“It is a pleasure for me to greet you on behalf of the more than 30,000 church members we have in our island with the 15,200 youth we have there,” said Alvarez during Cuba’s delegation report segment Friday evening.
“The youth in Cuba are dedicated to the salvation and service to others,” he continued. “We thank God because for the first time in 48 years, permission was granted so that 44 young people can be here in the name of Jesus. Our hope is that Cuba be not absent in these events, that Cuba is present and you can also be present in Cuba someday.”
Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America, said the Inter-American Division would be donating a sizable amount of funds to help the Cuban delegation and invited the thousands gathered to join in supporting their fellow Cuban peers as they headed back to Cuba on July 29.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cuba has a growing membership of more than 30,000 members, 272 churches, and a Theological Seminary, church officials report.
—by Libna Stevens, IAD, in Medellín, Colombia, with Adventist World staff.