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A Cuban Thanksgiving Story

Most Americans don’t realize the great sacrifices that the Cuban people have made to come to freedom in the United States. In that way, they are a lot like the Pilgrims who came over to America on a leaky ship risking their lives to fulfill a God-given dream. Every year, I ask my students to complete an “Origins Project,” which consists of several essays, a time-line and several maps describing the story of their lives and their ancestors. In my first year of teaching in a school district in Florida with a diverse population, I found it interesting to hear the stories of my immigrant students, especially those who came from Cuba.

The most interesting story was written sometime in the 2002/2003 school year by Russay Hernandez, who told me that he wanted to write a book about his life, but doubted that he was capable of doing it. I encouraged him to start with this essay. It has been edited heavily, but I tried to keep the same language as much as possible. A few years later, I met Russay after he graduated while he was working in a home improvement store. I told him that I still had his essay and that I would get it to him somehow. I came across this again today as I was looking for an old lesson plan. I am sorry that I waited ten years to publish this, but here it is.

My Life

by Russay Hernandez

As an escaped Cuban refugee, life has not been easy for me or my family, as you might imagine. My name is Russay Hernandez, I come from an island only 90 miles away from the Florida Keys: Cuba. I was born in March 18, 1985 and lived in Cuba for nine years. During those years, I didn’t know about the problems that were going on around me. As far as I remember, I was a normal kid, at least that’s what I thought. In reality, my life was miserable. Cuba, being a communist country, was very poor, and life was not easy for anybody. In fact, many people thought we were rich, because my father was a painter and he sold his paintings for a few dollars. In Cuba, one dollar is 27 Cuban pesos.

Cuba is a corrupt country. There, the police were permitted to beat you, take your house, put you in jail for no reason at all. My father didn’t like the way things were, so in March of 1993, my family decided that we had to leave the country in order to obtain a better life. My father and some of his friends decided to go and buy a boat so that we might escape from the country. The only problem was that the person from whom we bought the boat was an undercover agent. My father went to prison and was held captive for six months.

Sometime later after my father got out of prison, we still didn’t quit trying to leave. We were determined to keep going at any cost. Around November of the same year, several families got together to make an attempt to leave. We had everything set up, except that it wasn’t a boat this time, it was a raft. My father was not fond of rafts. He just didn’t like them, but it was our only chance to do this. The night came and we were ready to break sail. We started to leave, but like some unseen force, the sea got nasty. The weather changed so fast that we couldn’t keep up with it. The storm hit us like a wall and all of a sudden the sail broke. The raft started to go in circles and all of a sudden my dad spotted something in the distance: “Reefs!” My dad saw the reefs and right then I could read his mind, “We’re going to die and there is nothing that we can do.” But then the raft started to turn sideways and we made it back to the main land. Thank God!

By July 1994, we were making a better living in the country. My family was happy because my mother became a Christian and left worshiping the devil behind her. (In Cuba, an official religion is Santeria: a kind of primitive belief in demons and magic.) My family was going to church and that at least was something that the government gave us some freedom to do. Some time passed. We received news that would change our life forever. Fidel Castro had opened the doors for us to leave Cuba. I remember that day when my father stood up and simply said, “Pack up, we’re leaving!”

After some preparations, we managed to get things together, food for the trip and money. But we didn’t expect one little thing. They didn’t let small children leave the country by boat. My father hesitated. We soon enough found a solution, which was to hide me. I couldn’t believe it. I had to hide! We went to an old fisherman’s house down by the coast. We told him our situation and he said, “Sure, I’ll sell you the boat on one condition: you’ve got to take me with you.”

We weren’t crazy for agreeing to take the old man with us for two reasons: first, he was a skilled sailor; second, his boat was unique: I needed to hide and his boat had a secret place under the chair of the driver where only a child would fit.

Two days before we left, we took some time to say good-bye to all the family that would be left behind. Then we made arrangements in the United States with family members to pick us up from Key West. Then we were on our way. We sailed all the way from Cienfuegos to the middle of the sea when we saw something afar. At first it looked like a light house, but then we knew what it was. It was the United States Coast Guard. They stopped us and a small boat came to pick us up from our boat. Then I saw that they burned the boat we came on. I asked my father, “Dad, why are they burning the boat?” My father answered, “Because son, if someone else finds it, they might think that someone died in the boat.”

Shortly after, we had to switch boats, I don’t really know what the name of the boat was, but I do know that it was a naval ship. During that night a storm came that was as furious as a hurricane, and then for a moment I heard my father say, “That storm would have killed us.”

Your comments are welcome!

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!

These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.

Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.

Watch these pro-life videos on-line.

“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California

“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter

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The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death (DVD)

Download the free Study Guide!

Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.

Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.

The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.

Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!

Running Time: 195 minutes

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

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The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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