’m sitting in a worn-out plastic chair in the middle of Cuba listening to my Uncle Allen teach. I’ve sat in this Los Pinos Nuevos tabernacle many times over the last couple of decades mostly listening to my dad teach. Chances are good I’ve sat in this same spot—perhaps in this same chair.
Thousands have come to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the seminary my grandfather, Elmer Thompson, founded along with pastor B.G. Lavastida in 1928. Today, there are now some 400 churches scattered throughout Cuba carrying the “Los Pinos Nuevos” name: a wonderful legacy of God’s grace planted in the heart of my grandfather 90 years ago.
I was honored to attend and say a few words on behalf of LOGOI and my father. What a joy to know LOGOI’s ministry has been an integral part of the Bible training here at Los Pinos Nuevos —which continues to this very day.
Looking around, I thought of stories my dad told of growing up on the campus. I could picture him wrapping rags around the rims of his “new” bicycle so he could have tires and ride his bike down the rough driveway. I can picture the rain-swollen creek where he and my Uncle Allen nailed strips of tin onto holes in the bottom of a small boat that promptly sank as soon as they put it the water.
But one story stuck out in my mind as I stood looking up at the dirt road leading to the tabernacle. It was here my dad saw a man walk down the road looking for my grandpa.
Dad was just a boy and Grandpa was inside in a prayer meeting. A desperation in the man’s face and voice led my dad to go and get my grandpa even though he had implicit instructions not to bother him when he was teaching or praying.
Dad said he’d never forget the man’s next words; “There is a stain on my soul,” he wept, “and I cannot get rid of it no matter what I try.” The man looked into my grandfather’s eyes and pled, “I was told you could help me Reverend Thompson.” Through more sobs he begged, “Please, help me! I fear my soul is lost.”
My dad then watched and listened as my grandfather lovingly led the desperate man to the nail scarred hands and feet of Jesus. In a glorious moment, the sin and stain on the man’s soul were nailed to the cross and a brand new life was reborn.
That same message, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that who ever believes in Him will not die, but have eternal life” (John 3:16) is ours today. It is the same message that removes the stain from our souls. And it’s this same message that gives us the glorious hope and promise of an eternity with our Lord and Savior. It is that message we joyfully proclaim with all we do at LOGOI.
Yes, I’m proud to be a Thompson. I am blessed with a wonderful legacy. But we belong to a far, far greater legacy. We belong to Jesus and He alone can remove the “stain on our soul.” We have the incredible joy and privilege of helping lead others to the foot of the cross.
Now that’s a legacy!