My pastor was planning to hold evangelistic meetings. He printed some invitation cards for members to give their friends to remind them of the meetings. He urged everyone to invite their families, friends, and neighbors, and we young people of the church wanted to be included.
At that time Cuba’s government was more strict about religion than it is now. People could attend church and worship God, but the government didn’t want churches trying to convert people to their faith.
On Sabbath afternoon while our parents were in choir practice, four girls and I decided to give out invitations to the meetings. We walked a few blocks down a side street, giving invitation cards to the people we passed or to those who sat on their tiny porches. Encouraged when the people accepted the cards, we decided to give out cards in the children’s park a few blocks farther away.
One man sitting on a bench watched us talking to people and giving them cards. The man called us over to where he was sitting and asked what we were giving out. I gave him an invitation card and invited him to come to the meetings. He looked at the card for a minute, then told us, “It’s against the law to give out religious literature in Cuba. Where are your parents?”
“They are in church, a few blocks from here,” I answered.
“I am going to have to arrest you,” the man said as he stood up. Then I noticed that he was wearing a military uniform.
“You can’t arrest us,” I told him. “President Castro said that we have religious freedom in Cuba.”
“Let’s go to the police office over there,” the man said, pointing toward a small building on the edge of the park. So we followed the officer to a small building, where the man made a telephone call. “We’ll wait here for the police to come and take you to jail,” he told us.
We asked the officer several times to let us talk with our parents, but the officer didn’t respond. To bolster our courage, we began singing “Side by side we stand.” As our courage grew, we sang louder, so the people walking by could hear us.
Then I saw a woman from the church walking by, and I called out to her. I explained that the officer had arrested us for giving out invitation cards, and asked her to please tell our parents back at church what had happened. The woman returned to the church to tell our parents. Soon a police officer arrived and took us to a youth detention center. We began to wonder what would happen to us. Would our parents find us?