14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana 8 July 2016 – For decades, Cuban evangelicals have lost the ability to operate their own schools, to defend their ideas on the radio, and to distribute their written publications in the newsstands throughout the country. However, new technologies have allowed them to place their new audiovisual media in the popular ‘weekly packet,’ where political topics are not allowed, but religious ones are.
In 2009, group of young developers involved with the Communications Center of the Assembly of God in Havana, began creating a compendium of videos with news, proselytizing and life tips, which they call LuzVisión (Light Vision). It is promoted as the “Christian family channel” and updated weekly on the alternative distribution networks.
Abraham Campos is one of the five members of the team that designs “a varied program, which is both informative and dramatic,” he explains to 14ymedio by phone. Since this initiative began, he emphasizes, they have wanted to prioritize the promotion of the activities of the Evangelical Church.
When selecting materials, he clarifies, everything “goes through a filter of the doctrinal purity of our denomination,” which ensure that it does “not affect any other sector of the country, neither social, nor political, nor economic.”
Campos says that the benefits of expansion through the weekly packet are numerous, as it has opened the possibility for their product to reach those who do not receive material through disks or magazines and serialized publications, such as Arpeggio or Buenas Noticias (Good News).
Although they have not found a reliable way to measure their audience, they receive constant signals that the message is now reaching a larger number of users. “We are signing up more people and the acceptance is very good.”
Several distributors of the weekly packet have told this newspaper that the folder with the “Christian” label containing the LuzVisión productions is in “high demand.” There are more than 900 churches and 1,640 homes of worship legally authorized in Cuba, according to an article by the Ministry of Foreign Relations on Ecured, a state-managed website.
On San Lazaro’s central street and a few yards from Infanta Street, lives Juan Carlos, 33, one of the sellers of a weekly packet, an alternative compendium of videos, TV shows and digital sites.
“What most people want are telenovelas and newly-released films, but I have several clients who are looking for religious material,” says the vendor. He explains that many of them are “older people, mainly women, but there are also young people who live in religious families or who attend church.”
Campos does not mince words. The objective of the channel is “to concentrate God’s people in one point,” but also to reach “those who do not know the Word. It is, also, an evangelistic medium, although the principle focus is to concentrate on the church and its edification.”
He says that LuzVisión draws on all of the collaborators in their “different denominations.” In addition, he professes that it is very useful for young people who want their work and the Church to be known, and it is greatly enriched by the international Christian music that is included every week. “It helps to expand your music archive and repertoire,” he says.
In his selection he also collects a summary of “activities and community events” that are held in churches and on the street. One of the objectives of Campos and the rest of the creators is that “the young Christian, instead of subscribing to the weekly packet to feed on other things that perhaps distance him a little from his religious activity, obtains instructional materials within his faith.”
LuzVisión is something that for many is starting to be established, but “nobody knows how it will play out tomorrow.” Campos dreams of having, in the future, “a radio station or a TV channel,” although he confesses that he has prayed for it for many years but has not achieved it. “But in the end it will come,” he says optimistically.
The young man says that the distribution through the weekly packet is “training” that helps them to involve themselves “naturally in this communication medium. We all want, when the time comes, to have a space on national television and for that we must prepare,” he says.