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Furnace of Affliction: Miracle in Cuba 3

Alexis Abrahantes Carralero

Description

Alexis Abrahantes Carralero eventually foundd out about his mother's secret background. Intrigued by the forbidden faith of her mother's family, Alexis kept her secret safe and began to learn about the Bible for himself. Both of them began to secretly attend church, setting off a cat and mouse chase to keep their faith and lives intact.

Presenter

Alexis Abrahantes Carralero was born in Havana, Cuba, during the height of the Cold War, to a father who was a communist diplomat and member of the military class. He witnessed the religious struggle of underground Christians who still worshipped in spite of severe oppression and persecution. He soon joined those believers. In the midst of Alexis' conversion he suffered a severe accident, which led to a series of miraculous events that eventually brought him and his mother to the United States. 

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  • August 4, 2016
    6:45 PM

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There and the father. Please. Come into amongst us and you angels to touch our hearts. We think you that we're all gathered here and the Lord please help us to listen to what you have to tell us in Christ living name Amen. So I would like for you to open your Bibles to the very last chapter of Matthew. And. The very last two verses of Matthew was Matthew twenty. One thousand and twenty. And if anybody would like to come up here and read it go. You therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in name of the Father and of the side and of the Holy Ghost teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo. I with you always even to the end of the world. And lo. I am with you always even unto the end of the world. Done in CA to go as we say in Spanish. That commandment go go out into the world but side the heat out of the Bible work or took very seriously. And so she decided to persevere. And the time of persecution. When her counterparts were being sent off to concentration camps. And were being exiled to other countries and were losing everything. And so that night when I saw that strange lady come across into the house. I don't know that she was trying to fulfill this very words. Teach them. Teach them about the Son the Father the Holy Ghost even unto the end of the world. And so when I noticed that lady coming into my house. There was something very modest about her. Her skirt was very long she had a very conservative clothes. No jewelry no makeup. How strange. What a contrast between her my mother who of course you know had all this jury on and all this makeup and. So strange about her. And what was she carrying and a plastic bag which at the time in Cuba only foreigners carried plastic bags. And so I decided that I was going to spy on their conversation. My God forbid that I would be caught because my mother. True to her upbringing would not spare the rod. If she caught me. So I began to scurry around the house trying to see and in one of the hallways there was this long top history and as a child I knew that I could scurry and the space between top history and the wall without being noticed. By my mother and the cleaning of the house and moved. A pedestal with a vase and Fern off the tapestry. At the very end and I didn't know that. So I scurried about. And this I mean organise. And then I sneaked a peek about what was happening in the room. When that side up was received by my mom. And but sighed I my mom hugged and started sobbing. And I couldn't understand why my mom was crying with this late. Who was crying with her like that she was her sister. And then she took out of this plastic bag a pair of. Bondage black leather shoes high heels and a watch and letters. And my mom began to caress the letters and to cry over this gifts. And it had recently been my mother's birthday and the gifts were gifts from her family here in the United States and those were letters that she was receiving that you couldn't go through the proper mail because if they had gone through the proper mail. My mother at that moment in time in Cuba book probably had been arrested for receiving correspondence from the United States which was our arch enemy. And so but side I have been a go between. She had received this letters and this gives from my mother. And this was the first contact that my mom had had with her family had brought an about two decades. And so she was deeply touched by all this. And I wanted to know more. So I started pushing forward and pushing forward to hear the conversation and of course I tipped the pace. And it just splattered into a thousand pieces and the floor and I froze because I got a hole I'm going to get very good now. I'll be grounded for a month. So I came out of course with my hands behind you know because I knew it was coming. There was nothing I could do. Might as well get it over and done with and. But sigh the look to me and all through the years that side. I had. Sneaked peeks of me when I had been born she had gone to see me in secret so she would know what I look like. And as a child as an infant she would like go to near my house so she could see me in the distance and a garden. And when she saw me. She was so joyful and she took me she embraced me like she was my family and she sat me in her lap. And my mother was crying. And I never see my mom cry like that. And all the sudden this distant cold Empress of a woman. Got up and knelt down in front of me and she said to me. Son. Forgive me because I am a traitor. You're a traitor. I happen to hot from my crew. That my first duty was to the state to the government to communism. And then if I saw anything. That was questionable in my parents or the people that surrounded me it was my duty to report it to the government. It was my patriotic duty. So my mom knelt in front of me and she said I'm sorry but I am a traitor. The simple fact that she was receiving but sithe in her home and accepting this gives was an act of treason in Cuba for the Military Cross and that moment. So she saw me. And I knelt with her in the ground because I was shocked to see my mother. Kneeling before me. And she hugged me and she said I'm going to sit you down. And I'm going to tell you the forbidden story. Remember the cross in their marriage that if they had any children that child could never know she was. That night I learned who she was. She sat me down and she said. You are a member of a very large family. The majority of which are spread throughout the world by most of them are in the United States of America. Yes our arch enemy. And she began to tell me the sad story of that beautiful infancy and juice in a free Cuba. And about the God that had been the center of her home and the inspiration to her hero. Her grandfather who raced her. And now how she turned against God. Now of course I was brought up an atheist. So for me. God was like the gods of Greece and Rome. He was just another one of the many days that I had read about. So I sat there taking all this and. But that side I did not waste a second. She of course remembered. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever. I have commanded you. And lo I am with you always even unto the end of the world. So she sat me down and her lap. Again and she said I want you to know about the God of your forefathers. I want you to know about the God that saved them. I want you to know about the God of your grandfather and your great grandfather before him and she began immediately to tell me about god. All the stories Now in the library of my home. There was a forbidden book the Bible. The only person I could read the Bible in my house with my father. And the reason why. Was it because he had a doctorate in engine history. Very few members of the Communist Party were allowed to have Bibles. My father did. But the bookcase was locked. And only he could unlock it and read it. And that night when the lady left it was like the veil of mystery had lifted. Now I understood why my mother was so distant and cold. Now I understood why she suffered and was tortured so much privately. She had made a terrible shore yes. And she had been paying for decades for that choice. The choice of leaving God and living a life without him. And so that night. That side that left her home. But left a very deep and long lasting impression on me I wanted to know this lady I wanted to get hurt but I wanted to get to know her better. And what's more I wanted to know all of my family I wanted to know their stories. I wanted to weave that top history back into life. And so it was an exhilarating thing. And of course we love those things which are forbidden and this was an adventure and adventure into a world that had been shredded in secrecy for me. But my mother said to me if your father finds out that you know the truth. Our home will be done forever because he will divorce me. And he will allow them to send you to a reeducation camp. Because that three cent of conscience for him will be worse than anything else. My father who is a diplomat and a spy. Was a man of incredible powers of observation. So a single stolen glance. A gesture. An act of physical work nurse he will immediately know that something. Is wrong with you and he wouldn't stop until he knew what that was. So my mother said when your dad comes back from Romania. We have to act as if nothing of this has ever happened. You have to forget. That you know this. Because I was extremely close with my father. And just a single sentence or word would immediately have him and the hunt of what was going on. So my father came back. From Romania. And I began to act as if of course nothing was happening and this for me was wonderful because for the first time my life I was bonding with my mother. We had a secret in common that we had to keep even from my father. And this was an opportunity to get to know this woman that into this point had been largely distant and cold. And so all the sudden my mother's character developed all this warmth and all this charismatic deaf. And my father came back but my dad who knew my mother very well. He would be reading his newspapers. That he would get from different parts of the world because he was about a corpse. And he would be reading he would say to my mother. Last month on Tuesday of such and such a date at three thirty. You visited so and so. And you bought three items in the black market. And then he will fold his newspaper back and said I I knew the very day you did it. I'm just wondering how long it's going to take you to tell me months or bounced. So he would allow you to take the bait and he will give you a law line for you to do whatever you want to. To do and then he would real un. Right. Whenever he wished. So I was really scared that my father was going to find out that I knew that I had family in the United States. And I thought it was very interesting you know that I was belonging to a family of traders you know and Bordeaux sees all this shady people you know that are working against her volution and against the Cuban people because that's what I have been taught that whoever lived in the United States was the enemy. And we should destroy them no matter what. I have been taught in school that even American babies were he will. So the level of indoctrination was incredible. And then God began to work. Suddenly but surely I thought I'll never see but side ever again. So my mother on Fridays would take me with my father's chauffeur and to old habits because we were not living in the outskirts. And there I was being tutored by the historian of. And he would have a look across with several children from this military families such as mine and they would tour us to many of us architectural jewels. And there was some cathedrals at the time which were museums of atheism. So they would walk you through this beautiful cathedrals. And they would show you the money mints of the ignorance of the masses. Could you imagine how these people wasted all this money. All this craftsmanship on a. God does not exist. And so they would mock as their walk through this beautiful churches. How the population had been so ignorant. Before that they had spent all this time and money and a building instead of spending that time and money on the people. And so after I had my class. My mother once in a while she liked to rip open that curtain of protection. Because I had grown up in a bubble world. I went to school with the children of the colonels and of the generals and of the ministers. The beaches that I went to were the beaches three served for the generals and for the ministers. The stores where I bought were the stores that were served for this military class. And wherever I went I was surrounded by the privilege of being the son of of my father. My mother wanted to for me to see the real Cuba. Not the Cuba of the new ruling class which took over after the board just seen. For and spite of all that image of unity and equality. What happened was that once they got rid of the border or seize and there is a grads. Those same people that got rid of them moved right into their mansions. And begin to live almost with the same amount of privilege. And so. My mother said to the chauffeur go back home. We're going to take the bus like Route one and we were in Central have Anna. So I had never taken when I why my life will be interesting. And you know of course my mother always had me dressed like. Little Prince. And when I saw what the amount of people are waiting for the bus. I said well there's going to be several buses of course for all this amount of people you know. All those people were going to get inside of the bus. So my mother grabbed me. And she drew me and to the bus with herself if she elbowed herself and with her thighs began to push her away and to the bus. And we were all squeezed. Everybody's perspiring there is you know no air conditioning. You know. The drops of sweat are covering me by then by now my clothes is no longer the color they have bent. I'm all wrinkled up. I'm looking up in horror. And people are hanging from the doors and the windows of the bus. It was the beginning of the Special Period in Cuba. It but he was proceeding which had nothing special about it. What it meant is that the Soviet bloc had fallen. And Cuba would no longer be getting the billions that the Russian sub he was pumping into our economy. And so overnight. We had nothing. Because all the ships that would dock in Cuba were from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Because of the American embargo. So N. a period of weeks. There was absolutely nothing. Our money lost all of his of its value. Because you couldn't find toilet paper. You couldn't find so you couldn't find food and when you did find that the prices were so it tends. That you had to sell your soul to acquire it. So because of that there was no more fuel. So this buses were like ones you know in a while and all this population that had no cars. Because all the cars had been confiscate. During the time her allusion had to get on this bus. So here I was with my mother and my mother whole time mistiming this is communism is not your comfortable home and your car driven by a chauffeur. No this is communism. So look at it. And she would take me to the slums of Havana. Where you know that normal people lived. Not the sons of the ministers not the colonels not the military not the people that work for the government but the everyday Cuban. And when I arrived at some of these places I was shocked by the poverty. By the hopelessness. By the looks of people of despair that had nothing. And they had no time to do anything but to think about how they were going to eat tomorrow and the day after that and why were they going to do and who were they going to bribe and who was going to tell on them to report them and when they were going to go to jail because to buy anything in the black market was a crime. And of course at that time there was nothing but the black black market. So. She had shown me this world that I didn't know. And I began to see the reality such a stark reality. And she arrived at one of the slums and there was a little boy without shoes. And my mom said Take off your shoes give them to little boy. And I looked at my shoes and I had a really nice shoes and they were brand new. As a but I knew my shoes to walk. She said you have ten pairs of shoes at home to country shoes. So I took off my shoes. No I was on one trip but that night not Friday night. That bus. Began to cut through a certain part of Vanna. Through a neighborhood called Madea now. And as he was making his way through the neighborhood because of the sheer weight of all this people that it wasn't supposed to carry the bus broke down. And of course the people inside the bus wanted to lynch the driver whose fault it wasn't that he was driving a thirty year old boss that broke down quite naturally. But many of those people had been waiting hours that catch the bus and so people began to grow on happily and got off the bus. And it started to rain a little. And I remember that night. So clearly I can even remember the smells and this was over twenty five years ago. I got off the bus with my mom. And there was a beautiful church right at the corner of that street. Now because I had been studying religious buildings and religious architecture Cuba the Gothic and the neo classical and so on so forth. I was really curious about churches. I was drawn to them it was really odd. And my. Both my father and my mother didn't like that. Because I was very curious about religion and I saw the church and this thing glass windows were open it was Friday evening now the sun had set. This thing glass windows were open and from inside the church. You could hear a large group of people singing and I had never ever seen that. I had always visited churches like museums. And I had never seen a church actually working. So I looked at my mom and I said Can we go inside. I mean what's going on and there are you know other people singing. What others thinking why are they in there and why is that church openness night time. And my mom looked at me. And then she did read what was on top of the entrance of the church and it said. I've been to start the Sept seventh day adventists temple. It was a Seventh Day Adventist Church of money and I don't. And she turned to me and she turned pale. And she started crying. And I said What's the matter. She said to me son. This is the church that I left my job and it's cost me the peace of my conscience. Ever since. And I looked at her and I didn't really understand her grasp the meaning of that. She took me to the corner of the street. And there was a little bit of mud because I had been raining and she knelt down. She grabbed a little bit of it and she splattered it on my clothes and on me and I looked at her she's crazy. Because this was a woman that would dress me in white on purpose so that I wouldn't get stained. And I thought Well now she's really lost it. I stood there in shock and just stand there to see what happened. She opened up her purse she got a little bit of the modern herself. She took out her lipstick and began to put it like in a weird way in her mouth and I said Mom what are you doing. And she said well you want to go inside right. I said I want to go inside. I said I want you to go she said to me I want to go inside also. But and that church. There are members of the Secret Service that work for your father. And they their job is to know. Every person. That goes inside that church and to report it back to the government. So every citizen in Cuba has an ID card. And many of these people would find it in one way or another to ask you for it. Your Identity Card much like your driver's license here in the United States only that there everybody has it even the children. And so. She said if we're going to go into a church. We have to the skies ourselves because my father would sometimes be on television. On some sort of function and sometimes I'll be right next to him with a group of the children of the pioneers which is what your Nato's. In Cuba. So my face was well known. Before that. Also I had modeled for Bohemia magazine as a child. And that is the magazine that is and most currency in Cuba. So I was my face was well known. So she had changed a lot in me and we walked into the church and we sat in the very front row because that way nobody could turn around to look at us. And so we sat there and the for front row. And my mother cried through the entire vespers. And all a sudden right next to us came and said but side the Betty as we affectionately call her. But side was the Bible worker of the money in our church. And so she sat next to my mom she put her arm around her and she started crying with her. And at the end of the row. There was three little boys. And those real boys notice me. That I looked a little strange with all the mud. And they got near to me. And in between the hymns one of the. Little boy said what's your name and of course I was you know that and I was in and invent a name so I said. I like Sis. He said OK and he started talking to me he said would you like to read about God. Of course because I loved to read. He said Well. We have some pieces of the Bible here. Because the Bible and the works of Ellen G. White happen for Britain. And because many of these children because they were Adventists could not enter the university. The job of the Avengers parents was to educate their children to give them a chance and that society. So the first thing that I've been to children inherited was a musical instrument. And the ability to write. Because they were the scribes that were going to save the Holy Scriptures and the works of art and HUGH WHITE during that time of trouble. So many of these children knew entire books of the Bible by memory. Because maybe and the church there was three Bibles. So in order to save the Holy Scriptures. They had to memorize the scriptures because they knew that any moment of the Bible is found and burnt that was at the light was out. So each child had a different part of the Bible that they knew. And all together they were the entire Holy Scriptures. So it was their job by thirty minutes are all. It was their job to keep the Holy Scriptures and every month they would get together. And each one of them would write the part of the Holy Scriptures that they knew and then they would collect this. And to hold sheet of papers. And then they would shoes they would give that to. Some. Times it was a sire of ages and fragmentations sometimes it was the best parts of the conflict of the ages. And so that night that group of children gave me the New Testament and written by seven and eight year olds. And so I took it with all this bunch of papers. I took it home with me. We got home and I thought oh this is amazing. I am in the midst of real spy work. You know I am with you know with the underground. And so I took my last Savia batteries. I put them in my flashlight and I went underneath my bed. And in the space of two nights I read the entire New Testament because I had to return those papers. I couldn't keep them. And those papers were wrinkled and smudged from all the people I had read them from person to person like that. So now I had to return to the church because I had to return the papers. So when I got to breakfast. The first morning I was all tired. And my father was like what's the matter with you and nothing I would project at school. The kind of project you have let me help you with it. Now I got it. It's all right so the next day I come to breakfast. And he's like What. What's going on with you. I have a project that's cool. Yeah but you turn that project and yesterday about this is another one. And so he's like OK what can I help you with no no no I don't need your help. But he always helped me with all my projects. Rather strange. So that next Friday. I was going to return the New Testament. So I convinced my mother that we were going. To go to church again. And so she said Are you sure of what you want to do. Yes I want to do this. So my mother phoned her best friend. And she told her best friend. Isabelle. I am going to go visit you tonight with a special secret. And you are hard going to have to help us so we went to Isabel's house. And my mom told Isabel. Her friend. Were going to church that in itself was a problem. She said Is it she told us about every anybody comes looking for us here. You tell them that we're in a way back and because the bus routes are so bad it's going to take a several hours or so from that point we went to a friend of ours his house he was a professor at the University of Havana. There is always a Joseph and the Court of the pharaoh. And he was a believer. But a secret believer. And in his house. There was a library. He had a beautiful home from the days before the revolution and in the library there was a bookcase like any other bookcase. That was a secret door and behind that door was a room. So we took that your fur to Isabel's house we told them they were going to come back from there we took a bus to this gentleman's house. We got into his library and to that secret room which changed our clothes all of it. We went through the back door of that room and to the car no other friend who was waiting for us in another car that man took us into another place that was full of people so that we could lost in the crowd and lose any other spies that could be following us and then we went into a building that the to the south and the North facade works actually the same. We went through the north side and came out of the north of the south side. Got lost again among all the mass of the people. To try to see who was following us and from there we started taking the buses to go to church. So I went to church again for the vespers. And I was in thrall to. My new friends were there the scribes. And they came they collected their book. And they gave me the Old Testament and they're like you know this is very special. It took us several months to get it together. So you know you have to read it very quickly and you have to bring it back to us. So I was of course of course I felt like I was holding the Holy Grail. And so when we left the church. We had to go to every single spot where we had gone before to check if anybody had asked for us and then he had. But he had questions and then it was my mother's turn to be the spy. She had to learn which members of the secret police and of the counter secret police were following us. And then it became her job to know all their dirty laundry. So any of them had a mistress. My mother made her job to know it. If there were stealing from the government. My mother made her job to know when. And when she knew that they were about to report us. She would pay him of this it. And she would sit down and say well I know the cat is out of the bag but so is your cat. So you have a mouth. You have a hand you can write you can talk but all talk and all right. But that is a game that you can only play for so long. Before you find somebody who is uncorruptible and then you're really in trouble. So my mother knew that it was a game of cat and mouse and that the cat was coming. So we began to go to church in secret. But to do all this was exhausting work. Because you know everybody had to be in it and if one single piece fell. The whole house would come down. So the stress began to built and distrust begin to built. And we started going to church on Fridays and on Saturday mornings. And my mother had invented a whole slew of stories to cover our absence from home. Her from her best friend. Isabel was growing through a terrible divorce and she needed our support and of course my father was. So much. I never goes out except for a very you know a few times during the month that is a Bills house and of course Isabel had to tell my father that we had been there and that were on our way back and why they're not taking the chauffeur. Why are they taking the bus. This is so strange. But of course we're all in it. And then but sighed I was not wasting a single moment every night I went to church. It took me aside Bible study quick cramming time because the clock is running and any day now you're not going to have this opportunity. And so they began to teach me where all the secret Bible studies were being held. Because they were being held near our home. And secret places. And so my mom began to teach me how to survive electro shock and the torture that I would be eventually submitted to when would be found out. Because she said it's better for you to die than to release the names and the identities of the people like ourselves who are visiting the church in secret. So. I began to feel very close to that and she and God that I thought was did something in me begin to change something very fundamental I began to feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me. I began to see that none of this was Quince events. I was too perfect a plan had been orchestrated so very well. That it couldn't be left up to Shands. And so I decided that I was going to become a seventh day of interest. And one night because Friday night. We're coming back from church after going through all those roots and going through all those troubles. Sometimes we'll get to church to say amen. Because everything was done and to just turn around and repeat everything go back home. And I was sitting with my mother waiting for the bus and I said to my mom you know we are standing because we're lying to my dad. So tomorrow I'm going to tell my dad died. I am a Christian and that I want to be baptized and my mom looked at me in horror. And. And those days. Her grandmother had passed away. Here in the United States and the jersey. She never saw her again she was in many ways more like her mother than the mother because she raised her. And she said to me very sadly she said. I wish for you a better fate the mine. I never was able to see. Me mama. But she called her Mama again. And after tomorrow you'll never see me again. And she said if you feel that your conscience is telling you to do this do it. And so I sat there. And I began to memorize every detail of my mother's face because I knew that the next day. Everything's going to change. I wanted to remember those beautiful green eyes and her skin and the curls of her beautiful. Dark hair. And I wanted to remember her hands. And the smell from perfume and the just yours that she did. Because I knew that perhaps I was the last time I was going to see my mother. So that night we got home and a more foam tone. And my father came to my room and he said you know Alexis tomorrow in the morning. You're going to be by yourself because he had to go to receive at the airport the prime minister of Nigeria. And your mother is going to be away at a trial. So nobody will be here at home. And so we need you to just stay home. You know quiet until we get home. I said OK no problem. So my mother came said good night to me and walked over to her room. Closed her door. And I began to pray that God would give us the strength to face whatever we're going to face the next day. And the morning I woke up and it was a day like any other but that day changed everything forever. Tomorrow night. I will tell you what happened on that fateful morning because I don't want to get away again and because I already ran out of my thirty minutes right. Ten minutes ago. So we'll be talking about that tomorrow night and I wanted to come back. So you can hear it. But I want you to remember those words. Because there are people your mettle is going to be tested. Your medals can be tested and you may be who leaves the church. Or you may be a baby who stays and suffers. All throughout it. Who are you going to be. But remember that no matter whether you're a Betty or Sumatra. God has a plan of escape. And God has a plan to come and get you even out of the mouth of the lion. And this girl you're there for in Dijon nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and know I am with you always even unto the end of the world. This is true this is real and though may you may have to find yourself right before a firing squad. Or right before a train that's going to cart you off to a concentration camp. Or not so. Such a terrible thing. You may find yourself on your phone making a choice whether you're going to follow God or view that pornography or are you going to follow God and sign a text message that's inappropriate or are you going to be unkind or are you going to decide to do what you know and your conscience telling you that it's wrong. You may find that instead of the concentration camp or the firing squad. What are you going to shoes are you going to go before the world to teach them what is right what you know it's right or you know in your heart. God is tight you or you're going to take the easy way you might take the easy way but God is coming to the rescue. He loves you and he's going to pull you out of that no matter what it is in the same way that he used a horrendous tragedy to pull me out of that in the situation. And to have my mother returned to the fold after so much heartache. As bar had to bear. They're having the Father we thank you for your love with thank you for your rescue mission. Everybody here. Is not only an apostle. But it's also a plan B. and a plan C. for you because you have a plan for every twist that the devil trows. Him a term to us. He may be just dumb. We may fall but you're coming. You're knocking down doors and windows. You're breaking the barriers because you love us we're grateful Lord and I'm grateful that you came to rescue us so that you can take us home because this is not our home. So you can take us to a place where there will be more worries where there will be more crying where there will be one problems where there won't be many more temptations to knock us down. Please Lord come and take us home prepare our souls. So that we're ready. And so that we can make the world ready for that which is so quickly present my audience just layman's services and industry. If you would like to learn.

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