Gardnerville pastor embarks on mission trip to Cuba
April 13, 2012
To Pastor Adam Barkley, his ministry is all about multiplication versus addition.
Barkley left Friday on a month-long mission trip to Cuba to train pastors there in building and growing healthy churches.
“My passion is to see Christians live the successful Christian life, and mature in their relationship with God,” Barkley said. “If I train a dozen pastors, then they will go and train their congregation who will plant new churches. It’s a ministry of multiplication versus addition.”
Barkley, 49, became a pastor for First Baptist Church in 2000, leaving the church in 2009 to devote his time to mission work.
He has trained pastors in Mexico, Fiji and this will be his fourth trip to Cuba.
Growing up in Bolivia with his missionary parents gave Barkley a heart for pastoral and missionary work.
“It feels like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” Barkley said. “This is my ministry. If you have a passion and you’re successful, there’s a satisfaction that comes from that.”
Barkley will spend the first week of his trip in Havana meeting with several churches presenting discipleship and spiritual health and maturity development classes.
In Cuba, the churches are subject to government control.
“Unlike here where churches have freedom from government, in Cuba Castro controls the church, but he doesn’t suppress it,” Barkley said. “You have to register with the government. To have a church building requires government permission.”
He added that home churches must be 12 people or less, and they are told what they can or can’t do during services.
Barkley will work with Discipleship Training International the second week holding a conference for 300 Cuban pastors and leaders in Holguin.
Because the Cuban government controls where the conferences are held, transportation to the conferences and how much food they receive for them, holding these conferences poses some challenges.
“The challenges are food, sleeping arrangements, travel arrangements. Some of the locations have been nice, and some of them have been very primitive. We really don’t know until we get there, and find out what’s been arranged,” Barkley said. “Our liaison to the government is a wonderful man, and works out all these complications. You can’t say enough about the Cuban people. What they have, they give.”
While in Cuba, Barkley is required to tell the government where he will be, and what he’ll be doing at all times. He is also forbidden to talk about anything political.
“Any movement I make in Cuba the government has to know about it. I have to let them know where I’m going to be, and if I defer from that they can kick me out completely. You can assume wherever we’re at the government has someone there keeping an eye on us,” he said. “Fortunately, the organization I’m with has a good relationship with Cuba. You abide by their rules, you’re good to go. I’ve had no problems with the government myself, but we’ve never done anything to provoke them either.”
During the last two weeks of his trip Barkley will be helping different churches implement what they learned at the conference.
“I will be training a Cuban contact to carry on the work to help those churches as well,” he said. “It’s more than just us going and leaving. You want to train a pastor there that can continue the work.”
Barkley said the lack of control he’ll have over where he goes and what he does is difficult.
“You have to just release your time there to the Lord, and release the control of it because here we’re all used to being in control of our lives. There, you are subject to so many variables,” he said. “Something may fall through, and it’s not like you can throw a fit at someone. It’s very different from here.”
Whenever the opportunity arises, Barkley will be showing “The Jesus Film,” which depicts Jesus’ life and death.
“In a society where there’s not a lot of TV, and people haven’t been desensitized to visual media, to show them a movie depicting Christ’s death can be very impacting,” Barkley said. “I hope to be able to achieve the goals of the purpose of my trip. If I can do that, I would consider the trip a success.”
Pastor Adam will be emailing updates on his work from Cuba whenever possible, which will be published in The Record-Courier.