Two media platforms are better than one when it comes to sharing the gospel with as many people as possible across the island nation of Cuba.
That’s pretty much how Phil James, director of global development for The Word For You Today, explains why the devotional-book ministry has become the newest broadcaster over the recently boosted signal of TWR’s Shine 800 AM station. Already sending out millions of the quarterly volumes in the United States and around the world, the ministry found distribution of The Word For You Today to be tough going in Cuba, whose infrastructure has been described as fragile and crumbling.
The Spanish-language devotional books, printed in Cuba since 2015, were delivered by antiquated trucks over rough roads to village drop points, where pastors riding bicycles would meet to pick them up. Books sent by mail often didn’t arrive.
“Most people only have internet access in public places such as hotels and tourist attractions,” James said. “With the radio signal from Bonaire, we expect to reach more people and connect with more churches.”
The program, called La Palabra de Hoy Para Ti in Spanish, is a daily presentation of the devotionals, written by Bob and Debby Gass and voiced by famous Venezuelan actress Elluz Peraza. The devotionals speak to the needs of a country where churches are packed and new believers are numerous but access to the Bible and to seminary training are lacking, said Cuban pastor Alex Napoles.
“Cuban people don't have much hope when they look at life in a naturalistic way,” Napoles said. “The economy in Cuba is not strong, and the average person only earns $20 a month. … With the radio program, we can point people to God so they can find help with their problems. They can learn how to look to God as their source for help.”
The devotionals even serve as a resource for church leaders, he added. “We have heard pastors saying, ‘We use your devotionals to write our sermons.’”
In a further example of cross-media synergy, the printed devotional book contains an ad for the nightly broadcast lineup from Shine 800, including Messages of Faith and Hope by TWR’s own Alberto Gonzalez. A pastor as well as a program host, Gonzalez said he’s received several calls from people who have seen the ad and want to know more about the broadcasts.
James told a TWR interviewer, “We chose [to work with] TWR Bonaire because you are now reaching Cuba and nobody else is doing it. We have been talking with TWR staff over the years, and we have learned that both our ministry cultures are similar. Focusing on the Word, bringing it to the nations, teaching and discipling people. This is part of both our DNA.”
Photos – Top: Alberto Gonzalez preaching to a small church gathering in Cuba. Middle: A copy of one of the devotionals alongside an old Soviet Russian-made radio tuned in to Shine 800 AM.