The election is over. Democracy prevailed, a winner was declared, and hopefully our government will get back to the business of governing instead of politicking. No matter how messy and contentious it has appeared over the last year, our system works, and it is the best in the world.
Two weeks ago, a friend from Cuba was visiting our church. For many years, Esther was the vice president of the “Consejo de Iglesias” (Counsel of Churches) in Cuba. She is also a retired Assemblies of God pastor there, and at age 88, still preaches where needed. We met in 2005 in Cuba, during one of my 16 missionary trips to the island.
She was fascinated with the protracted election process in the United States. So, two weeks ago, when I went to vote early, I took her with me. I explained to one of the men at the door, that she was from Cuba and asked if she could go in with me. He didn’t know. So I went in alone. After I received my ballot and was heading for a booth, a loud voice coming from a tall man who had Esther in tow, informed the room: “Folks, we’re going to let this lady see how the free world works!” All the workers just beamed.
Then, in our booth, I very quietly explained to her each person or issue, and why I was voting as I did. She was amazed that so many candidates for president appeared as choices. (In Cuba, on the national ballot, I believe the incumbent is only choice for president.)
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When we left, I was given an “I voted” sticker. Then the lady handed one to Esther. She said “No, no, I didn’t vote,” but the lady, grinning from ear to ear, insisted. Esther left the polling location walking on air. “Ay Ana,” she said, I could never imagine that I would have the enormous privilege of seeing an American election. When I go back to Cuba I am going to show this sticker to all the people I know and tell them about the way Americans vote.” It was the highlight of her visit. She couldn’t stop talking about it. I have no doubt she will be a fantastic witness in her country of “how the free world works.”
She also had some poignant comments as we drove off. “Does your country know how blessed by God it is? You know it was founded on God. I am a Christian because 70 years ago missionaries from the United States came to Cuba and I heard the gospel. But I fear that America is turning away from God, and this could cause His blessing on your country to diminish.” Wow, what an observation from a Cuban lady who lives where God is barely tolerated and highly regulated.
Do we know how blessed we are? Can we return this nation to God before His blessing diminishes altogether? Perhaps our government leaders at every level could start by following the lead of Ben Franklin at the Continental Congress of 1775, when he declared the nation’s first day(s) of prayer: “I therefore beg leave to move — That henceforth prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business; and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
The Rev. Anne Barber is pastor of My Father’s House Church in Parrish and also a member of the Florida Bar. She can be contacted at email@example.com, or at My Father’s House, P.O. Box 1042, Ellenton, FL 34222.