Snatch Them Out of the Fire

I have just returned from Cuba. I spent 7 days in Santiago on one side and 7 days in Havana on the other. Cuba is a wonderful island country. It is very beautiful, but very sad because the people there live in extraordinary poverty. They should be doing very well there, but after all these many years of communism there, things are very difficult. Often the places where I stayed didn’t have electricity. Some days we didn’t have water. There’s very little gasoline. Medicines are very short. Food is difficult to find. If you don’t have electricity, you can’t get money out of the bank. Even if you want to buy gas and you have money, the pumps don’t work. This is what life is like right now in most parts of Cuba today.

I do want to give you a quick update on what God is doing in this wonderful country and how the Christians there are rising up to live out the gospel right in the midst of all these difficulties. The highlight of our time was a gathering of about 18 to 20 people from across the island. About one person from each province of the island. We brought them together and we had them meet for the first time to create a bond where they were all understanding together what the mission was and to talk about ways that they were doing that in their own province or their own town. We wanted them to talk about how they could work together. We were really building a whole foundation for a much larger work across the island. And it was very successful.

I am holding a stick in the video here and I am doing so for a reason. At one point during our time together, they each stood up and they shared a remarkable story of how a particular child and mother was rescued from the jaws of abortion. Jude 23 says, “Save others by snatching them from the fire.” The stick becomes sort of the metaphor of how we are dry and ready for the burning. And yet, by God’s saving power, he comes and he snatches us from the fire. In Jude, he’s telling us to snatch others from the fire. And each of them stood up and told their “stick story.”

Most of this is in Spanish, so I didn’t get all the details of it. I do remember one story about a baby, Moses, that was born with his heart backwards or the valves were backwards, or I’m not quite sure exactly what the whole medical condition was, but it had something to do with his heart being backwards. They had to help the mother have the baby, and then they had to help that mother get to a hospital in Havana where they, you know, turn things around and save that baby’s life. That baby is now doing very well. Of course, all the people in the village were excited because that child represented to them as a burning stick snatched from the fire.

This metaphor of the burning stick actually was made famous by John Wesley. You may know him and his brother Charles Wesley. They were itinerant evangelists and created a whole discipleship movement in this 18th century by helping people know the Lord by reading the Bible and praying in a very systematic way. They were later on called the Methodists. It was actually a kind of a slanderous term at the beginning, but it stuck. He used this verse about the burning stick as the metaphor for his whole life.

When he was five years old, his house caught on fire and he jumped out of a window into a man’s arms who caught him just seconds before the entire roof collapsed and would have certainly killed him. Later on he became aware of his own need for repentance and how he was under the just wrath of God for his rebellion and sin. He talked about how his saving grace was really God snatching him like a burning stick from the fire. That verse actually comes from the book of Zechariah where we read that God saves us like a burning stick plucked from the fire. That’s where he gets the metaphor in that verse. We are the ones who are being plucked from the fire like a burning stick.

In the verse in Jude, it talks about how we get to go out and be part of God’s saving and rescuing work in this world and to snatch others from the fire. Here’s the team that we’ve put together now in Cuba and they’re each going to go back against extraordinary odds with very little resources and continue to create their own local team using pastors, doctors and counselors. They’re going to try to take Cuba as a whole nation now, neighborhood by neighborhood, reducing it from the number one place in the world where abortion is concentrated to one of the lowest places of concentrated abortion on the planet.

I believe that they’re going to do it. I think, with our continued partnership with them, we’re going to see Cuba begin almost immediately to slide down that list and to leave a legacy for the next generation of Cuba. It will be a legacy of life that’s going to point them toward God’s saving grace as He snatches us from the immediate and physical death of abortion. This will give them a testimony to God’s saving grace from the fires of hell itself and becoming part of God’s redemptive family.

It’s an exciting time in spite of all the difficulties to live in Cuba and for us to be working with so many wonderful partners in Cuba. It’s going to be an exciting three to five years to see how this unfolds now across the island. I encourage you to keep those people in prayer for their daily bread and for the courage and the compassion to go out and snatch others out of the fire. Thank you.