One of the students attending a Cuban elementary school during the early 1960s related the following account to a friend. He shared the story at a recent businessmen’s breakfast:
It seems Fidel Castro and his cronies came up with an idea to indoctrinate young children’s minds toward Marxism when they first took over the Cuban government in 1959.
Castro’s soldiers traveled to an elementary school. There, a uniformed soldier walked into a classroom. “How many of you believe in God?” he asked the young students.
All of the children raised their hands, showing their belief in God.
The soldier motioned for the children to lower their hands. “OK, how many of you love ice cream?” he asked.
The young hands quickly shot up in hopes of a sweet treat.
Once again, the soldier motioned for the children to lower their hands. “Now, pray to God for Him to give you some ice cream.”
The children closed their eyes and bowed their heads in prayer.
After a few minutes, the soldier said, “Look up.”
But of course, there was no ice cream. The looks on the children’s faces revealed their disappointment.
“Let’s pray once more, but this time let’s all pray to Fidel Castro for him to give you some ice cream,” said the soldier.
The children closed their eyes and prayed for a couple of minutes.
The children opened their eyes to see soldiers walking into the classroom with ice cream cones for them. The prayers to their new god and provider − Fidel Castro − had apparently worked.
When I heard my friend relate this story, I thought, what a tasteless trick!
It might have fooled the children at that particular moment, but the deception would have only lasted for a short time.
How can I be so sure?
A deception only lasts as long as there is enough faith to believe in it. As soon as the faith for it is all used up, the deception is revealed for what it really is − a fraud.
My guess is the faith for the deception lasted only until the children prayed again for ice cream. And with children and ice cream, there soon had to be a next time. Then, when their prayers failed to provide more ice cream, the children would have been disappointed at the cruel joke played on them by the soldiers.
Yet when the children saw loved ones and neighbors herded off by Castro’s military police, they quickly understood the foundational tenet of Communism was not based on ice cream, but on fear.
During the 1960s, Castro’s henchmen executed thousands of dissidents. Tens of thousands more were tortured and imprisoned for years. Christians were persecuted. All suffered their fate without any due process in a court of law.
Prime Minister Fidel Castro followed the well-traveled path of other Communist dictators, such as Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh and Kim Il Sung, when he persecuted and marginalized Christians. All of these men viewed Christianity as an ancient fairytale and a counter-revolutionary threat.
Does heavy harassment by government leaders accomplish their goals of destroying believers’ hope in God?
“The Church persecuted has always been the Church prayerful, and therefore powerful.” – G. Campbell Morgan
Persecution always fans the flames of prayer. The halfhearted, apathetic prayers spoken by believers before suffering strikes are quickly replaced by fervency. And fervency moves the heart of God to reach out to His children.
This does not mean that persecution quickly goes away, but faith and hope come alive in the hearts of praying believers. It is this powerful faith that will eventually move the obstacles confronting believers.
Today, there are more than 25,000 home churches in Cuba. The kingdom of God is moving forward at a faster pace than any other time in the nation’s history. Castro’s hopes of removing God from Cuba are long since forgotten.
What could Castro have done instead of using persecution to weaken the power of Christianity in his nation?
“The Church patronized is the Church paralyzed, and therefore, the Church in peril.” – G. Campbell Morgan
The church in America is a perfect example of a paralyzed church that desires to be patronized. Most of us have become exactly what Castro hoped would happen when he sent his soldiers to the elementary school that day. We are looking for our government ice cream cones and have long since lost our fervency in prayer.
I wonder how God will cure our government ice-cream habits.
And when He does, will we like His remedy?