Last updated on July 21, 2023
Here is a short interview with Roberto Ornan Roche
* You are a Christian writer in Cuba. Please tell me a little about your life.
Life in Cuba is somewhat routine and boring, though being a Christian makes it worthwhile. I work as a small business landlord for computer facilities. My wife and I have a baby of ten months, and it is very difficult to make ends meet. For example, some strained fruit for our baby costs 25 pesos (about US$0.95), but the average wage of a worker in Cuba is less than four hundred pesos a month (about US$15.00).
When I have some free time, I go on the internet to see how things are going with my books. But the internet is expensive and difficult to use, and sometimes I spend more money checking my books than I make from them. The internet is prohibited in Cuba, but we can pay to obtain some hours, and hope that the State does not take reprisals.
It is important, amid all that, to maintain our spiritual life and not lose sight of the Lord.
* How did you start writing?
I began to write because I felt that it was the best way to express my feelings about my life, and as an expression of my faith. For that reason, my writings are devotionals, testimonies and simple stories. I wanted to express my devotion to God, who has a purpose for my life.
* Is it easy to be published as a Christian writer in Cuba?
The churches and denominations in Cuba have small magazines, but with few pages and very low circulations. These magazines are the only means for a Christian writer to say something. A national seemingly Christian publishing house exists, with the possibility of printing a great number of copies. This Publishing House is named “Roads.”
However, they also mix in politics, and they live ostentatious lives, backed up by donations from overseas Christian organizations. But that type of “Christian” is known well and the true churches don’t mix with them, although they are powerful and can offer useful opportunities, because they enjoy the privilege of the State.
* Is it easy to be a practicing Christian in Cuba?
I remember when I was a schoolboy that our teachers made us stand at the front of the classroom, so that the other students could make fun of us, because we didn’t believe in Darwin’s Evolution or in the ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin. We were simply Christians, and the other children were trained to hate us.
This was not an isolated practice. Rather, it was mandatory for the teachers to embarrass the Christian children. Likewise, it was necessary for parents to deny their faith so that their children could study in the University.
Currently, with the decadence of the socialist society, the State has been allowing certain freedoms and has been taking advantage of Christians to heal our society, although in no way do they want a Christian society. They simply want us to participate in the formation of a solid society – taking the good of the churches, but without giving much ground.
* Are there many churches in Cuba?
Yes, we have many churches, although we are not allowed to open up or build new churches. This has always been forbidden. Our local church is more than eighty years old.
* Please tell me a little about your church.
Our church is small, but after waiting decades for a construction license, and jumping over thousands of bureaucratic barriers, the construction of a new church building, on the site of the old church, is almost finished.
Due to the construction work, some church activities have been rescheduled. But normally we have men’s, women’s, children’s, and youth worship. We also have prayer groups, and Sunday School in the morning and evening worship.
Our Pastor is a very good preacher. He is very inspiring and his sermons attract a lot of non-believers. We also have home prayer groups, and fasting and prayer in the mornings.
People in our church are simple and humble, very poor and unpretentious. Over many decades a lot of very good Christians have left their imprints on the hearts of the congregation. These were church brothers and sisters who always stood up and gave moving testimonies.
A brother who traveled overseas remembered us with a donation that we used to buy an electronic piano for the church. We call these brothers and sister the Pillars of our church, and although they have moved to be with the Lord, we always have other older men and deacons who are the new Pillars of our church.
My mother Migdalia has been a very active person in the Ladies department and a teacher of Sunday School. In her youth she traveled hundred of kilometers to study and also to teach at Summer Schools in small towns.
I hope you enjoy this short poem by Roberto. My heart is quickened when I see lived out the profound truth of God – He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and in every country throughout the world, we are one in the Spirit.