PASEDENA, California (FR) – Dr. Jack Folmar and his wife, Barbara, recently paid a historic visit to Cuba through a program called ASSIST, whereby Americans can adopt churches in communist countries.
The California physician and his wife attend Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, California, and visited a church in Havana, allotted as part of a new program started by British journalist Dan Wooding called ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times). Wooding started ASSIST one year ago as a way Americans can respond to glasnost, and do more to help churches in restricted countries. He plans to extend the program to every communist country in the world.
“On my first trip to Cuba, eight years previously, I had discovered that the evangelical population of the island was 100,000, but now out of a total population of ten-and-a-half million, it has jumped to 500,000,” said Wooding.
Dr. Folmar described the church he visited. “It is a church with a tremendous emphasis on Bible teaching, and has a program that seems to mirror that of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa,” he said. “This stucco-framed church, located on a busy thoroughfare in Havana, has worship services two or three nights a week, a missions program, and in-depth Bible teaching during the week and on Sundays.”
The couple attended a Friday night evangelistic service at their sister church during which two Cuban soldiers, in uniform, committed their lives to Christ. “That was the highlight of the trip,” stated Dr. Folmar later.
After participating in the ASSIST training program in Mexico City, the Folmars took a Pastoral Library of teaching materials into Cuba.
“We were told to expect a miracle and that all of our books would get safely into the country,” said Dr. Folmar. “So I just stuffed all my pocket-sized books into my tweed coat. I looked 15 pounds heavier and very out of place in the tropics. We prayed a lot and they didn’t open anything at Havana Airport.”
Barbara Folmar confessed to being bowled over by the Christians she met during those seven life changing days in Cuba. “We went to several meetings, both in churches and homes. It was so exciting to be accepted and to see their joyful spirit. They had so little, yet they were thankful for everything, especially for us coming. I think I was even more thankful for them. I had never met Christians like that before.”
Dr. Folmar decided to make the trip to Cuba after hearing Dan Wooding speak at the Calvary Chapel missions fellowship about the sister church program for Cuba. “I was so overjoyed to discover how the Cuban church is flourishing and thriving,” he said. “I’ll never forget the joy on the faces of the believers we met when they discovered that they were not forgotten.”
ASSIST is soon to move its headquarters from Costa Mesa to Pasadena and will be located on the campus of the U.S. Center for World Missions.
For further information on the ASSIST sister church program, write to: ASSIST, P.O. Box 1979, Costa Mesa, CA 92628. Phone: (714) 642-9496.