Merriam-Webster defines immersion as; absorbing involvement, and when we set out to go to Cuba the primary task was that of immersion. To become so absorbed and involved in the culture that our lives would forever be changed.
When I left for this trip I was naïve enough to think that this was an immersion in the Cuban culture, but now that I am home I firmly believe this trip was really about an immersion in the culture of the Holy Spirit.
I remember that moment of immersion clearly. We walked into what appeared to be a house church after a fifteen-minute ride on a bus, and we were immediately escorted to the front of the church. About a hundred or so of God’s faithful were in attendance, and I could feel their eyes inquiring about our presence. We were there to learn from them, but I’m not sure they understood why. This wasn't a classroom, this was their church, and the Holy Spirit had always been their teacher.
Space was cramped, the presence in the room was palpable, and we all waited for what would happen next. And what happened next would be the example of what the church in Cuba looks like; it was a party and church broke out. There was dancing, there was loud music, there was praising, there was loud music, there was preaching, and there was more loud music (noticing a theme?). Then, to end our time together there was a time of ministry, and that happened at just about every gathering we attended.
People were prayed over. People were healed. People were overcome with the Holy Spirit and the crazy part was this; they expected it.
The church in Cuba expected the Holy Spirit to show up in deep and powerful ways. And the Holy Spirit never disappointed.
Every church we visited (14 or so) and every time we worshiped (10 or so… sometimes worship would spontaneously happen) the Holy Spirit revealed just how powerful it can be. The fire of the Holy Spirit is the foundation of the church in Cuba, and in so many ways I envy their dependence on that fire.
Of course, part of that dependence comes out of real need, but it was strange for me to watch it play out. I would see people who had nothing in comparison to what I had in the States, and yet they were so FULL of the Spirit. At times, I was jealous of their faith. Church in Cuba lasts for hours, and no one even blinks. The last worship celebration we had before returning home went on for four hours, and yet it felt like minutes.
As I now journey home I wonder what it would take to build that sort of dependence on the Holy Spirit. Can a community that is proud of their independence learn to become dependent on the fire of the Holy Spirit? Can the church that I call home become a place that cares more about the movement of God rather than it does about the constructs of time and place?
Honestly, I find myself asking the question: Now what?
And yet, I’m okay to live in this tension. See, along with this process I am not only learning about the church’s dependence on the Holy Spirit, but I’m also developing my own. The tension is probably right where God wants me.
So, the only reasonable thing for me to say is: Come Holy Spirit come!
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