Mario Rodriguez is 80 years old but that doesn't slow him down much when it comes to getting the gospel out. He recently returned from his 5th trip to Cuba. He goes alone as a tourist, preferring to stay with members of the local churches.
"The Cuban people are wide open to gospel literature," he says. The spiritual vacuum has been there so long under the communist government that the hunger is great for spiritual food.
Rodriguez says that there is ample freedom for individuals to distribute literature. Some organizations have found that even large meetings to preach the gospel have been approved.
Rodriguez uses both Chick tracts and the larger Crusaders Comics. "The literature stirs up the people to ask questions. Then the local pastors can follow up with teaching," he says. Many of the people do not read well, but when they have the pictures in the literature it is easier for them to understand.
After he returns to his home in Florida, Rodriguez receives more requests for literature from inside Cuba. As he is able, he mails more literature. Some responses come from the States. One Christian lawyer in New York contacted him and wanted to go with him on the next trip. A group of 20 young men are also interested.
Although food is scarce in some places, the Cuban people tell Rodriguez, "Don't bring us food. Bring us more gospel literature." Local pastors beg for more literature for their people.
Rodriguez says that the Chick Tracts explaining the errors of Catholicism are "wonderful." When the pope recently visited, he was not well received by the common people. They watched all the pomp and ceremony and somewhere the word got around that the pope was worth 20 billion dollars. When he left, they wondered to themselves why such a rich person would not use his wealth to help them put food on the table.
Instead, the local Roman Catholic officials look the other way when the people mix their Catholicism with the local voodoo-like religion, Santeria. Rodriguez says that even in Florida there are hundreds of places to buy statues and candles to use in their satanic rituals. Roman Catholic statues are often used in the rituals.
One Santeria merchant offered to sell Rodriguez a candle. "I don't need candles, I have Jesus. He is the light of the world," he told him. "He got very angry. Some are very fanatical."