Help Thou Mine Unbelief (La Pedrera, Cuba Update)

Climbing into the cramped seat of our vehicle, I wondered what laid ahead on the long road beyond us. Numerous incidents had delayed our departure, and now we were the last group remaining. We had waved goodbye to each of the other 4 groups as they departed from the SDA Conference office in Holguín, Cuba. Finally, our driver, Felipe, sputtered the engine to life, and we commenced the 2-hour journey to La Pedrera, in the northern province of Las Tunas.

Unfortunately, we were unable to hold our meetings in the La Pedrera house church as we had hoped. Instead, our campaign was hosted in the neighboring town of Delicias, a 20 minute bus ride away on potholed dusty roads.

We began our adult and children’s meetings with a presentation on Daniel 2 on Tuesday, March 27. I pulled our projector out of the suitcase and began to set it up. Instantly we realized we had a problem. The power outlet was for a 2 prong plug, not a 3 prong plug. Reaching back into the suitcase, I removed a 2 prong extension cable. But this only moved the problem one step back. The extension cable likewise lacked a ground outlet. I had brought a universal power adapter, but I had left it at the house church in La Pedrera. As I was debating what to do next, the Delicias church member who operated the equipment retrieved the church’s projector and showed it to me. God has ways to provide. But when I glanced at the back of the projector, I saw that it only had a VGA (analog video signal) port. Holding up my HDMI (digital video/audio signal) cable, I tried to explain in my limited knowledge of Spanish that the projector was incompatible, but he seemed unconcerned. I turned around to rummage through our bag of random cables, no HDMI to VGA adapter was to be found. I sighed; we were stuck. I turned around again, but to my surprise, he was holding a dongle. None other than an HDMI to VGA dongle. I thanked him and completed my setup.

After the message, I gave each attendee a firm handshake. When I had greeted the last person, I began to tear down the equipment. My laptop was halfway into my backpack when the realization hit me like a brick. Unlike my laptop that I use on a regular basis, the old laptop I brought to Cuba had a VGA port. However, I had been so accustomed to the absence of a VGA port that I hadn’t thought of it.

It was a silent rebuke to me for my lack of faith. My mind flashed back to an incident 2 weeks prior…

Friday afternoon, March 16, one week before mission trip. I was making preparations for my first sermon. After 20 minutes of work, ShareSynch International, the application created by ShareHim for sermon presentations, suddenly crashed. Down with it also went my work that should’ve been saved. Combined with other technical difficulties and frustrations associated with ShareSynch, I decided that would be the last straw. However, being only a week away from mission trip, there were few other options. I conversed at length with Mr. Krueger, but by the end we had reached no conclusion. The only thing we could do was pray.

I went to bed that night pleading with God. I prayed that He would reveal to us the solution and for the faith to believe that He would carry through. The following morning, I went on my usual Sabbath morning prayer walk. As I descended the shortcut from Squirrel Run to Academy Road, I was praying about the Cuba sermons. I asked God to make it work somehow, claiming the promise in COL 363.1 that when we give ourselves wholly to God in His work, He makes Himself responsible for its accomplishment. I also continued to pray for the gift of faith. Without warning, I looked up, and it began hailing. But to make matters worse, the wind began to blow the hail into my face. I turned around to walk backwards into the hail, slightly annoyed. After a few seconds of debate, I decided to ask God to stop the hail. After about 15 seconds, it seemed like God was answering. The roar of the hail began to decrease, and less seemed to be falling. I was ecstatic! I took it as a sign of assurance that everything was going to be OK. But a few seconds later, the hail began to pick up again. Doubt spouted in my mind. It was a small thing, but confused and dumbfounded, I asked God, “Why?”

Then I realized it. Yes, it was still hailing, but the wind had changed direction. It was no longer blowing in my face. Perhaps God wasn’t answering my prayer as I had asked, but He was answering nonetheless. When I had accepted this fact, God then decided that I was ready. As I rounded the final bend several hundred feet in front of the Weimar Academy wall, the hail stopped entirely. I was overwhelmed with wonder. It was as if God was saying to me, “Is there anything too hard for me? Just trust Me. I’m going to take care of it.”

In my journal, I scribbled, “I don’t know what God is going to do. But He gave me the assurance that morning that I had nothing to fear. So I’ll let Him do the saving, and whatever He needs me to do, I’ll do it.”

And time and time again, God came through for us. I’ve forgotten to bring items to the meetings. My HDMI cable was too short. ShareSynch decided it wanted to crash on me again. I’ve stood up to preach less prepared than I’d like to be. But despite all our problems and difficulties, God has worked through us – in spite of us, in fact. On Saturday night, March 31, an altar call for baptism was made. Five people came forward, including a family who had been studying with our local Bible worker, Osvaldo, for 5 years. Wow, I thought. God works in such mighty ways with such inadequate instruments.

My faith was so weak. We serve a powerful God. And yet we pray as if He lacks in resources. In Mark 9:23, Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Then, in that beautiful prayer for help, “the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’”

I, too, cling to that prayer. In The Desire of Ages, Mrs. White penned these words: “Look not to self, but to Christ. He who healed the sick and cast out demons when He walked among men is the same mighty Redeemer today. Faith comes by the word of God. Then grasp His promise, ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’ John 6:37. Cast yourself at His feet with the cry, ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.’ You can never perish while you do this – never.” (DA 429.1)

I look to Christ, claiming His promises. I know I am weak. I know I am powerless. I know I am unprepared. But “I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is through the power of Christ alone. Nothing of me, everything of Him.

-Joey Shiu
Team Steward (Mr. Steward, Dr. Kuninobu, Mrs. Ing, Joey Shiu, Matthew Kuninobu, Jared Ing)
La Pedrera, Cuba
WA Mission Cuba 2018

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