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The Counsel of the Word: Biblical Counseling in Cuba

April 22, 2015

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A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the seventh of a multipart BCC Grace & Truth blog miniseries on International Biblical Counseling. Today’s post is by Danilo Rodriguez, Discipleship Pastor at Maranatha Baptist Church in Holguin, Cuba, on The Counsel of the Word: Biblical Counseling in Cuba. You can read Part One by Kyle Johnston: Biblical Counselling in South Africa, Part Two by Steve Midgley: 5 Concerns and Responses about Biblical Counselling in the UK, Part Three by Sacha Alexandre Mendes: News from Your Relatives in Brazil, Part Four by Michael Leister: Tracing God’s Story of Biblical Counseling in Germany and Switzerland, Part Five by Betty-Anne Van Rees: The Growth of Biblical Counselling in Canada, and Part Six by Matthieu Caron: Gospel-Centered Biblical Counseling in French-Speaking Quebec.

Helping Hurting People Find Hope in Christ

I first met Dr. Ron Allchin, the founder of the Biblical Counseling Center in greater Chicago, when Ron and Sherry Allchin traveled to Cuba to train pastors in biblical counseling at the Baptist Seminary in Santiago, Cuba. The Allchins needed an interpreter to teach Foundations of Biblical Counseling, and I translated the materials into Spanish and then translated as they taught.

I immediately knew that the Lord was calling me to a biblical counseling ministry. Throughout the years of interpreting for the Allchins, I learned more and more about biblical counseling, and I began to use the materials to train churches throughout my home country—to many locations where the Allchins could not go. I saw how the counsel of the Word changed the hearts and lives of the Cuban people, whom I dearly love, and was grieved to see the sin and suffering in so many lives. We needed more counselors who could help hurting people to find hope and joy in the Lord. This training filled that gap in Cuba.

Equipping in Biblical Counseling

My church in Holguin, Cuba, is the flagship of churches that have a robust biblical counseling ministry. We now have 22 graduates of our training program who are all active in counseling and discipling others in both our church and in our 16 mission churches around the city. When I return to Cuba in June, I will have a new group of 50 students that are starting their training in biblical counseling. These are the leaders in our church of nearly 1,000 members.

Ron and I now teach together at the three locations for the Baptist seminary in Cuba. Since travel is so difficult in Cuba, classes are held in different regions to accommodate more pastors to get training in both theology and counseling. Just this past November, Ron and I started with a new class of 25 first-year students starting the Foundations of Biblical Counseling course. By the time they finish seminary, they will be well equipped in all the training BCC has brought to Cuba.

Biblical counseling has also impacted the deaf and mute leaders from churches all around the island of Cuba. Twenty-nine leaders who are deaf and their interpreters from all the different provinces graduated with certificates in biblical counseling and took this ministry back to all of their churches.

I also go to remote locations to teach week-long seminars in Cuban churches using the materials we teach in the seminaries to lay counselors in local churches around Cuba. There are currently 471 graduates with certificates in biblical counseling now in Cuba! Of the 14 provinces in Cuba, we now have churches trained in 5 of the provinces in eastern and central Cuba. These lay counselors are making a big difference in our churches and country.

Biblical counseling reached all the way to Maisi near the Guantanamo Bay Military Base, a very poor and desolate region. In a Baptist church there, a group of 25 leaders from various churches gathered to earn their certificates in biblical counseling. The pastor was one of our first students at the seminary in Santiago many years ago. He knew the value of this training and wanted it for his people. I had to take 4 different means of transportation to even get there, and the roads were car-killers with huge potholes. When I first started going, people thought I would never come back for a second time, but I did for the third and fourth as well! Ron and Sherry Allchin went there with me for their graduation ceremony and could see with their own eyes how grateful all those church leaders were. They are a living testimony of serving the whole body with resources that enable others to care for the hurting and hopeless everywhere.

Dr. Ron Allchin notes that:

“Most churches in third world countries cannot afford to have us come and teach counseling, and their people could never afford counseling services unless they receive them as a part of the ministry of the church. That is where BCC fits in. God’s people give to international ministries, so we go; we train! The Word of God transcends culture, and it doesn’t matter the country or the language. The Word is the powerful tool in change. Danilo has translated most of BCC’s courses into Spanish for Spanish-speaking people all over the world. These courses are available at BCC’s online school, which offers self-paced, highly-affordable courses in Spanish or English to individuals and to groups.”