Cuban churches embrace Easy-to-Read Spanish New Testaments

After sending 100,000 copies of its Spanish New Testament to Cuba in January, representatives of World Bible Translation Center
visited the island in late May to investigate how the Scriptures were distributed. The Center’s Spanish New Testament was translated
especially for the masses of Spanish-speaking people who have trouble understanding the existing ones.
Meeting with the Cuban Council of Churches, who received the New Testaments for distribution, Craig Smith, Executive Vice
President of the Translation Center, Brian McLemore, Director of Translations, and Stanton Williams, a Fort Worth businessman
and volunteer for the Center, visited with churches and church leaders to find out how the Center’s Spanish New Testaments were
received. The Council of Churches is the only legal means to distribute Scriptures in large quantities.
“Cuba, like China, Russia and other countries with a socialist history, is a land of contrasts and contradictions that defies a one or
two-word label that Americans like to have,” remarked Smith.
As they interviewed Cuban church leaders and churchgoers, the survey team was pleased to find that Bibles are widely available.
“But, as always, our question was, ‘Can they understand them?’” reminded Smith. He then quoted a church member named Eduardo
who said, “If it were an easy-to-understand Bible, more people would read it instead of trading it for other things like clothing food
and household goods like they do now.” Smith told Eduardo that such an easy-to-understand translation would be delivered to his
town soon.
Smith commented that Cubans live off meager food rations and pay heavy fines when stepping over limits set on fuel and energy
consumption. Men are rationed just one shirt and a pair of pants a year. They look forward to shoes and underclothing every three
years.
Cuban believers describe present intimidation from authorities as more subtle than in days past when church leaders were threatened
at gunpoint. Nowadays, bars and clubs seem to spring up in close proximity to churches and tend to aim their loud speakers at
church doors during worship services. “We only observed spirited worship as people seemed oblivious to the distractions that
bothered us,” remarked Smith.
Meeting with Jose “Pepe” Lopez, secretary of the Bible Distribution Committee of the Council of Churches, the survey team learned
that the New Testaments were just starting to be distributed. “He said all 100,000 copies would be distributed within the next two
months,” said Smith. “He said the New Testament had been well received and Lopez especially liked the New Testament’s
vocabulary, preface and introduction.” Lopez believes the Translation Center’s version will be particularly useful for getting people
started, for new readers and others starting out with an interest in the Bible.
One thousand copies will soon be made available to foreign students coming to Cuba to study. Another major distribution event took
place the first week of June at a large gathering of Cuban church leaders. “Lopez asked for 100,000 more this year!” remarked
Smith. “He also said it would be important for people to have our whole Spanish Bible when it’s complete.”
“The council of Churches helps all churches regardless if they are council members or not,” promised the President of the Cuban
Council of Churches during a brief audience with the survey team. “He was very kind and gracious and thanked us over and over,”
said Smith.
The Translation Center is waiting on a detailed written confirmation on the Cuban distribution before moving on shipping more
Scriptures.
The Center’s Spanish New Testament was released in January in Mexico City following a two year translation effort, a record for
the Center. Over one million copies of the Spanish New Testament are set to be distributed in Mexico this year. The initial press run
of the Spanish New Testament (1.4 million copies) is also a record for the Center. Translation of the Spanish Old Testament is
presently underway.
World Bible Translation Center exists to provide accurate, easy-to-understand translations of God’s Word in the world’s major
languages. More than 3.3 million of the Center’s Bibles, New Testaments and Scripture portions were distributed during the year
2000.
The Center’s first translation was the groundbreaking Easy-to-Read English Bible, which enjoys popularity worldwide as a ministry
tool. The text’s easy-to-understand style is prized by church planters and cherished by seekers. It is equally valued by long-time
students of the Word who find it consistently gives them fresh insights into divine truth.

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