During a trip to Cuba last month, members of The Master’s Men, the all-male chorus from Southeast Christian Church, sang every day from a repertoire of 18 songs they memorized in Spanish one syllable at a time.
Concerts happened in churches and concert halls, but also in airports where people gathered to hear them practice—even sing along to the words. Not quite a flash mob, but moments with crowds that 24 members of The Master’s Men will never forget.
Melanie Wood, who has directed The Master’s Men since they were founded 40 years ago, said the all-time favorite at every concert is, “How Great Thou Art.”
Words to the hymn echoed through the Museum of the Revolution where bullet holes still pock walls: “And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, he bled and died to take away my sin.”
Imagine that in a communist country.
Much has happened in 18 years since The Master’s Men took their first trip to Cuba. Over the years, they’ve built strong friendships with members of Alamar Christian Church and the Cuban National Choir. They’ve performed sacred music in official government buildings as tears ran down faces of those in the audience.
Wood said she is humbled and amazed at what God has done over the years.
“How the Lord picked this choir to build bridges in Cuba amazes me,” she said. “We see what God has done in our friendships and our concerts, giving hope and singing about faith. It’s difficult to describe.”
It never mattered if they were in churches, restaurants or concert halls.
“My biggest takeaway is over the years God allowed us to be involved in the communist world,” Wood said. “We could unashamedly say we’re Christians. We could sing with elite members of the Cuban National Choir who are so young and talented. We are honored by what we’ve been allowed to do.”
Southeast member Bob Drane has been on multiple trips to Cuba with The Master’s Men.
“God took over,” he said. “It was evident God wanted us there. Doors just opened. We would look at it and be amazed that doors opened. We never thought on those first trips 18 years ago that we’d be where we are now with freedom to sing this Christian music.”
Choir member Chris Strickland said time in Cuba with The Master’s Men is the tale of two trips: singing with professionals in the Cuban National Choir and locking arms with Alamar Christian Church to praise God.
“We will never know the seeds that God plants that someone else can water,” Strickland said. “He produces the harvest. It makes you smile to get a small picture of God’s big picture.”