Date: November 18, 2023
So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Hebrews 13:6)
Reflect on this verse as you pray for two Cuban pastors, Alejandro Hernández Cepero and Luis Eugenio Maldonado Calvo, who were unjustly detained on 31 October.
Although they were released later that day, this was a targeted act of intimidation.
The pastors were detained to prevent them from attending a ‘roundtable’ discussion on religious freedom – one of several peaceful gatherings taking place across Cuba that week – which the pastors were involved in organising.
Amazingly, the event in Havana went ahead with a wide range of religious groups, despite the two Protestant pastors being unable to attend. However, there was a heavy presence of State Security forces, who surrounded the venue and tried to stop some people from attending.
Following another gathering in Santiago de Cuba, a group of church leaders from different denominations bravely issued a public declaration on 8 November. This included calls for freedom for political prisoners, and for basic human rights to be respected.
It is encouraging to see Cubans coming together more and more in the name of freedom and justice for all. It takes immense courage, and we must pray for their protection.
- Giving thanks that the roundtable events went ahead, to enable important discussions about freedom of religion or belief for all.
- Pray for the protection of Pastor Hernández Cepero, Pastor Maldonado Calvo, and all who attended the gatherings – despite the risks.
- That Cuban citizens would be free to attend similar events and discussions in future, without being threatened or arbitrarily detained.
- That the Cuban authorities would stop targeting citizens because of their religion or belief, and listen to the voices of those who are calling for change.