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Pastor Esmir standing on the ruins of his house

Photo: Religión en Revolución

Government agents, including state security and Cuban Communist Party officials, destroyed the home of a pastor in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba on July 2nd. The pastor's residence also housed their church. The unannounced demolition began at 6 a.m. while Pastor Esmir Torreblanca and his wife and small children, ages two and seven, were asleep. The family is now homeless.

The church's main leader, Pastor Marcos A Perdomo Silva, described the unwarranted attack: "(Officials) arrived and violently broke down the front door which was locked. The police entered with batons alongside a group of men carrying machetes. They began to destroy and occupy the properties of the pastor and the church." Photographs taken at the scene depict uniformed officers directing a bulldozer to level the area where the church and home stood. When members of the church attempted to break through the barriers set up by officials to block the roads, their IDs were confiscated and they were threatened with arrest.

The destroyed church was threatened with confiscation and demolition in March of this year, but local officials appeared to back down after the case received international attention. The house church is affiliated with the Apostolic Movement, a fast growing network of churches that the government has refused to register and considers illegal.

Please lift up Pastor Esmir and his family to our Lord in prayer, asking Him to provide for their every need at this time. May they soon secure a new home, and may the authorities cease their persecution of this family. Ask God to grant wisdom to the leaders of this church as they shepherd their congregation amid severe opposition. May their steadfast dedication to our Lord serve as an example, inspiring other Christians in the area to obey God regardless of what the unbelieving members of the community may dictate (Acts 5:29).

For more information on Cuba's persecuted church, please visit the Cuba Country Report.