An evangelical pastor, once jailed by the regime of Fidel Castro, arrived in the United States from Cuba yesterday with his family under a special resettlement program for political refugees. The Rev. Carlos Lamelas, 50, along with his wife Uramis and two daughters, landed at Miami International Airport Thursday evening, (July 7) on a direct flight from Havana.
On Feb. 20, 2006, security officials arrested Lamelas on charges of “human trafficking,” a charge related to aiding Cubans who wish to escape Cuba without government permission. But, according to Compass News, those close to him said police targeted him because he had challenged the Castro regime on religious liberty issues. During his imprisonment, hundreds of letters poured in from fellow Christians around the world, confirming their prayers for him and offering encouragement. Jailers admitted to Uramis Lamelas that the correspondence created difficulties for them. Four months after his arrest, Lamelas was unexpectedly released from prison. Then, in December of 2006, the court convicted Lamelas on a previously unannounced charge of “falsifying documents” and fined him 1,000 Cuban pesos (US$45).
Denied means of employment following his imprisonment, Lamelas and his family have struggled. Fearing another unexpected arrest and possible long-term imprisonment, Lamelas applied for political asylum in 2010. Lamelas, who once served as national president of his denomination in Cuba, was granted asylum in the United States due to the persecution he has endured for more than five years at the hands of Cuban authorities. The family will be resettled in Texas under the auspices of the Division of Refugee Affairs of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“For our part, we have been open to the will of God, and we know He will take us where we can best serve Him,” he wrote. “Our moral commitment with the Lord’s work is permanent and without borders. We know that many brothers and sisters have collaborated for our benefit – we’re sorry not to know specifically who they are. Nevertheless, we want them to know that our love and gratitude is sealed in our hearts for the rest of our lives.”
Father, thank You that the Lamelas family was able to receive asylum in the United States; guide and nurture them in the days ahead as they continue to do Your work. Surround them with new friends and family in their new home as they sing praises to Your Holy Name. Amen