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Steve Swett heard inspiring stories in Cuba.

The Fremont man recently accompanied Lincoln Murdoch, executive director of the Step Up to Life ministry, to the Caribbean country. There, Swett helped with three training seminars for pastors, evangelists, lay leaders and members.

While in Cuba, Swett learned about a man, who’d served in that country’s military and was in overseas to fight in a war when a mortar exploded where he and other soldiers were.

Four other soldiers didn’t make it. But this man survived and after returning home to Cuba gave his life to Jesus and has been serving Christ ever since.

That was just one of the various testimonies Swett heard during the evangelistic trip in January.

Based in Elkhorn, Step Up to Life is a nonprofit organization that works to provide evangelistic literature and training to Christian leaders and followers of Jesus around the world.

Swett said Step Up to Life partners with other ministries and has a strong connection with the Action Cuba organization, which led to the evangelistic trip.

During this trip, two-day evangelism training seminars took place in three cities: Las Tunas, Bayamo and Camaguey in the eastern part of Cuba.

Swett was asked to make the trip last fall.

“I went because I wanted to be part of the global church, to see what the Lord is doing outside of what I know and am familiar with,” he said. “I also thought this would be an opportunity to serve and to be a blessing to brothers and sisters in Christ and to be a blessing to the church.”

The trip proved to be a learning experience.

“I learned a lot about Cuba and the church in Cuba and I also grew in my own understanding of Scripture and evangelism,” he said. “And I was greatly encouraged by the believers in Cuba. Their faith is inspiring.”

Swett said Murdoch did most of the speaking.

“I’d do one session each day — so six sessions total,” he said.

Between 150 and 175 people are estimated to have participated in the sessions.

In the sessions, they stressed the importance of a change in the attitude of the heart.

Swett cites research which indicates that only two to five percent of people who respond to a Christian message and commit their lives to Jesus can be found in a church a short time later.

“We want to see lives changed for eternity,” he said, noting the ministry’s tagline of: “We exist to eliminate short-term decisions and see lasting conversions become the new normal.”

Swett said he and Murdoch went to Cuba on religious workers’ visas and that the government is open to people there practicing religion.

While there, they interacted mostly with Christians.

“The people I encountered were very joy-filled and very kind people,” Swett said. “It felt like a really safe country. Lincoln and I went for a run in a few of the cities and the people were friendly. We felt safe to go throughout the cities, even on a run.”

Swett said he was surprised by the ethnic diversity with Cubans resembling individuals of different races and backgrounds — European, African and Latino.

He didn’t detect any racial tension.

“There was a lot of ethnic diversity and they get along very well,” he said.

Churches in Cuba reflected that diversity as well, which he appreciated.

Swett added that the Cubans were very good hosts.

“They fed us really well,” he said. “We had rice for probably every meal and oftentimes we had chicken or pork.”

A favorite dessert consisted of small pieces of cheese in a mango sauce.

Expresso was served in small cups.

“I really enjoyed the coffee,” he said.

He enjoyed hearing the inspirational stories as well. Swett met a woman, who said she was paralyzed for 25 years.

“She was curled up and couldn’t move in the front room of her home,” he said. “Two pastors were walking down the street and saw her in her house and asked if they could pray for her.”

The pastors prayed for the woman.

“I don’t know if it was that day or later on, but she was totally and fully healed and she became a believer,” he said.

Swett said he enjoyed seeing what God is doing in Cuba.

“It’s not like the Christian God is the American God and we have to go give him to other people,” he said. “God is already at work in Cuba. There are believers there and we can partner with them and we can serve them. It was amazing to see what God is already doing in Cuba and to serve God’s people there.”

Swett would like to return to Cuba.

“We’ll see that the Lord has in store,” he said. “If the opportunity presents itself, I would love to.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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