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Crash in Cuba

by John Cloutier

Frank pressed hard on the brakes but couldn’t stop in time to avoid the biker.

“We just hit a biker!” Stacey yelled. “Is he OK?”
“He’s standing up; he looks fine,” I replied.
“Oh no!” cried Frank, our driver.
Driving in Cuba is anything but easy. There’s no center line dividing opposing  traffic. The majority of vehicles aren’t cars, they’re bikes, horse-drawn carriages, and motorcycles. Even many pedestrians walk the roads. If you’re lucky enough to drive a car, the cars are old and run-down, making emergency adjustments difficult.
Our Cuba mission trip was winding down. I was one of 20 Collegedale Academy students who’d been holding an evangelistic series for 15 days. We had three days and three meetings left.
Most days I spent hours preparing my sermons. This particular day I decided to  enjoy some tropical sunshine. Since I didn’t do much preparation earlier, I planned to spend the hour-long ride to the church perfecting my sermon for that night.
Working diligently on my laptop, I wasn’t watching the road. Stacey and Lisa, two of the musicians on the trip, were very tired and were resting their eyes. Frank was singing along with his opera music when a biker darted across the road from a side street without stopping at the stop sign.
Frank pressed hard on the 1957 Pontiac’s brakes but couldn’t stop quickly enough to avoid the biker. The biker never saw our car coming.
Crash! The bike seemed to explode as wheels flew off its frame and its basket shattered. I looked back and saw the biker standing, so I figured he wasn’t seriously injured. Frank stopped the car, jumped out, and hurriedly grabbed the stunned man and pushed him into the back seat with Stacey, Lisa, and me.
“What’s going to happen?” Stacey questioned Frank.
Frank mumbled something about the hospital.
“We could miss our meeting,” Lisa pointed out.
The biker was confused about how he’d gotten hit, and Frank was confused about how to handle the injury, his damaged car, and his responsibility of driving us to the church.
The biker moaned and groaned. Blood trickled down his leg. Initially the biker’s leg looked as if it would be fine, only a couple of cuts and scrapes.
On the way to the hospital Frank managed to narrowly avoid several more accidents. Not exactly sure where he was going, Frank drove around in circles, looking for someone to give us directions.
The biker’s moans and groans seemed to grow louder. Frank cringed at what the biker said. In Spanish Frank yelled at him to stop cursing.
When we arrived at the hospital, Frank quickly got out and rushed inside. We sat silently in the car. Soon two medical staff brought out a stretcher and transported the biker into the hospital.
A police officer watched the scene unfold. Frank jumped back in the car and just before we left, the police officer came over and asked us what happened. After Frank explained our situation, we were soon on our way. No paperwork and only a limited number of questions—all pretty unbelievable by our American standards.
The rest of the way to the church we drove as if nothing happened. We arrived about 20 minutes after the program started. The church members, who were waiting on us, were thrilled to see us pull up in our damaged vehicle.
Somewhere in the middle of all the commotion I felt a peace that prepared me to preach. And at the conclusion of the meeting, 11 people made decisions for Bible studies.
The real deal
Satan tried everything he could to disrupt or even cancel our meeting that night, but  truth prevailed.
When I look back at what happened that evening in Cuba, I see that the whole thing was in God’s hands. The biker, who could’ve been seriously injured or killed, ended up with just a broken leg. Since we didn’t have to talk much to the Cuban police or fill out a report, it saved us a lot of time. The car, which had endured 50 long years of driving, got its hood slightly smashed, but it was fixable.
Isaiah 25:9 came true for us: “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
John Cloutier, 19, is a freshman studying business at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. Outside of class he enjoys playing golf and tennis, singing, and reading. His home is in Ooltewah, Tennessee.

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