Feb. 22, 2016
For Immediate Release
|Dr. Twyla Hernandez, assistant professor of Christian missions and director of the Hispanic Baptist Bible Institute, speaks about the mission trip to Cuba. (Campbellsville University photo by Rachel DeCoursey).
By Jesse Harp, student staff writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Campbellsville University staff, faculty and students received a taste of Cuba from Dr. Twyla Hernandez, assistant professor of Christian missions and director of the Hispanic Baptist Bible Institute (HBBI), and Dr. Scott Wigginton, professor for pastoral ministries and counseling, on Feb. 10 inside Ransdell Chapel on campus.
Hernandez, along with Wigginton, spoke of her experience with the HBBI and the recent mission trip they took to the eastern part of Cuba this past December during a mission trip.
“God is able to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or think,” Hernandez said, quoting Ephesians 3:20, when relaying the origin of the HBBI.
The HBBI was founded in 2005 and was originally intended to serve only Hispanic Baptist churches in Kentucky. However, Hernandez, who has been executive director of HBBI from the very beginning, said that it has expanded to different states across the country, and even into foreign countries like Mexico and Cuba.
“God had a much bigger plan for the institute,” Hernandez said, “and I am infinitely grateful for that.”
Those bigger plans were manifested in December of 2015 during Hernandez’s and Wigginton’s trip to Cuba where the HBBI had the opportunity to serve and equip churches. At the bible institute in Cuba, students had the opportunity to graduate with a one, two or three-year certificate that would enable them to transform their churches and regions.
The growth of churches in Cuba was stunted in 1959 when Cuban leaders ruled there would be no new church buildings established. None of the church buildings on the island are remotely new, and if someone leads a church, it is typically located inside a house.
|Dr. Scott Wigginton, professor for pastoral ministries and counseling,
shares about the trip to Cuba. (Campbellsville University photo by Rachel
Wigginton said that bringing the gospel into a communist country was no easy task.
“They weren’t jumping up and down saying, ‘Yes! We’re going to welcome Christians into Cuba,’” said Wigginton.
Although Cuba, led by President Raul Castro, is reluctant to welcome Christians into their country, they still permit them entry.
Wigginton said that the gospel is not openly discussed in public, and that if the subject of Christianity is not handled with caution, one could get it serious trouble.
Cubans generally revere life in the United States, according to Wigginton. With Cuba being a communist country, the citizens are under a lot of restraint. Although tourists are allowed to eat whatever they like, Cubans have a food rationing system and are not allowed to eat beef or fish. Cuba also has an ample amount of doctors, but they don’t have enough medicine, making it hard for the citizens to receive adequate healthcare.
Wigginton presented a slideshow featuring the people he, Hernandez and the team they went with met. The slides included Cuban pastors and families that honor the gospel and have a desire to see Christianity grow in their region.
Hernandez said that the community of Christians in the HBBI has accomplished immeasurably more than she could ask for or imagine. The HBBI in Cuba has seen 89 graduates, with 200 students currently studying there.
“The students at the institute don’t just learn about sharing the gospel,” Hernandez said, “they do it.”
Theological education is a powerful tool, Hernandez said. This is the foundation on which the HBBI is built. Hernandez shared personal stories of different HBBI graduates who have been impacted by the gospel and use it to transform lives and communities. One of the first graduates, who Hernandez refers to as Pastor Caesar, leads one of the largest Hispanic churches in Kentucky. Pastor Caesar returned to the HBBI in 2014 to increase his knowledge of the bible and become a better pastor.
Hernandez talked about growing up in a small town in Tennessee, and said she expected to remain there and become a high school English teacher. God, she said, had more elaborate plans, as she became the executive director of the HBBI and has traveled to different states and countries with her mission.
She reminded the audience that the provision that God has showed her isn’t limited to just her. She said His grace and blessings are abundant, and that He will not leave any of his children where they are.
“He will do more for you than you could ask or imagine,” Hernandez said. “Because he’s God of the universe and he loves you.”
Campbellsville University students Adam Hicks and Aaron Smith led worship and Ed Pavy, director of campus ministries, introduced the speakers.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering over 80 programs of study including 24 master’s degrees, seven postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.
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