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What a Cuban Refugee Taught Me About Christ

Fidel Castro

Juan Baldor, a Spanish professor at Dallas Baptist University, came to America with his parents and brother at the age of 11. Fidel Castro had risen to power in Cuba not long before, promising freedom from oppression and equality for all. Baldor went with his father to Castro’s rallies, he collected Cuban revolutionary cards like American kids collected baseball cards, and his family thanked God that dictatorship in Cuba was gone. It did not take long for the Baldor family to learn that Castro was full of lies and was beginning a regime that would rob his countrymen of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

With a sack full of belongings, a change of clothes, and empty pockets, the Baldor family came to America, just months before the fiasco of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Free to pursue his dreams once again, Baldor’s father landed a position mowing highway medians with the City of Dallas and eventually climbed the ladder to head of one of the city departments. It was a modest wage, but for the senior Baldor this rise to leadership represented all of the reasons why his family left everything they owned back in Cuba. The Baldor’s were free.

I spent nearly two and a half hours listening to and speaking with Professor Baldor about Cuba, politics, and the true price of freedom. My patriotism was bolstered as I contemplated my own freedoms that I take for granted so effortlessly. More importantly, though, Professor Baldor stirred in my soul a deep appreciation for Jesus.

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:32).

True Freedom

For all the ways that Christianity is belittled and mocked in our country, we are still free to assemble, to promote, and to believe openly in Christ. We are truly blessed to have such liberty. Make no mistake, even if all of these freedoms were ripped away from America in an instant, we would still have the beautiful, ultimate, eternal privilege of knowing and being known by the Creator of the Universe.

Satan packages sin as freedom, convincing people that there is something to be gained. Much like a lying politician seeking to deceive the masses, we are fed that holy living is bondage. These false freedoms are veiled slavery that robs human beings of the privilege of seeking real truth.

Countries rise and fall, as do their leaders, but our Triune God reigns and rules forever. Life in Christ, this new creation, is the only real hope that we will ever have. Professor Baldor put it this way: “When you lose ambition, something to hope for and work toward, you lose a part of your soul.” Our souls are lost without Christ, headed for certain destruction as we trade God’s presence for a bite of temptuous fruit. As the Baldor’s tasted life when they stepped on American soil, they were experiencing only a shadow of the true freedom that comes from Christ himself. The misery of slavery to sin is much more powerful and poignant than anything Castro, Hitler, Stalin, or any other evil human being can extend.

May we thank God not only for political deliverance, but even more so for the great mercy and grace that he pours out upon his adopted sons and daughters.