The Outstanding Church Planters we Minister With

One of the highlights of our ministry is connecting with our church planters. It’s not easy to start something new. There are great opportunities, and many challenges along the way. The church planters become great friends. They are like family to us.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been able to meet with church planters from three different cities: Ensenada, Tijuana, Mexicali. Each of them is at different stages in the process of starting the church.

Pastor Federico & Blanca Muñoz
Dave & Dawn with Junior, David, Daniel, Blanca, Federico & Damaris

Last week Dawn and I spent time with Pastor Federico and Blanco Muñoz who are starting a new church in Mexicali. Dawn and I prayed with them and encouraged them as they love their neighbors and reach out to the community.

We see the Lord’s hand on Federico and Blanca as they have already made some good connections and they have some friends in the Mexicali area who are helping them to share the love of Christ. These friends are going out with Federico and Blanca to invite the neighbors to a fun event that they are holding this Friday.

They bought 500 hot dogs and they are praying for 200 people to come. I love their vision to reach out broadly. They would like to make a number of contacts that they can follow-up with through this outreach. 

Federico and Blanca have a lovely family with four children ranging from 12 – 19. It seems like every time we see them someone is about to have a birthday, so we enjoy some dessert with them. Their children, Junior, Daniel, David, and Damaris are all committed to helping their parents. They love to worship and to lead worship.

The first person I met in their family was Junior as he came to a worship workshop that we held a year and a half ago. The Lord used that event and a mutual friend to connect us with Federico and Blanca. God is so good. I love how he brings people together for His kingdom purposes.

Changed Lives in Ensenada
Our fun group in Ensenada this past Sunday

The church in Ensenada led by Pastor Petri has already launched. This past Sunday Dawn and I worshipped in Ensenada. After church, a big group of us went out for a meal.

Over the course of the meal, I enjoyed talking to Arturo, Irlanda and their daughter, Barbara. They are a sweet young couple. They came to Christ and were baptized in the church this last year. It was encouraging to talk to them along with Petri, Yudy and the others about their journey. So good to see the Lord change lives, and bring about life transformation.

More Advance – We Pray for More!
Pastor Davis & Luz Pardo with their three children

We also have two other new church plants. One in Tijuana led by Davis & Luz Pardo and one in La Paz led by Jose Luis & Ana. The Lord is on the move and we give thanks for all that he is doing as he works through these couples and their ministry teams.

Please continue to pray for the advance of the kingdom on the Border, the Baja and Beyond! The church is growing, but we’d like to see more. We are hungry for more! Thank you, Jesus.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org 

Grateful for the Opportunity to Give Testimony of All That God is Doing

At times Dawn and I travel to promote all that the Lord is doing on the Border, the Baja and Beyond. I love the opportunity to give testimony to God’s marvelous work where we are ministering. Over the past two months we’ve been visiting friends and churches in what seems like all over the place.

Colorado: Bringing Mexico, the Church & Family Together
Adolfo Josue, Pastor Adolfo and Porfirio at Garden of the Gods

Dawn and I went to Colorado together where we hosted the president of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico, Pastor Adolfo Arias and his son, Adolfo Josue. The director of the Instituto Juarez, a private Presbyterian school in Mexico City, Porfirio Camarillo also came. We had a wondeful weekend introducing them to Colorado and Village Seven Presbyterian Church. It was the first time that Adolfo Josue visited the USA.

The added blessing for us is could take advantage of the trip to visit our two boys, David and Jonathan and their wives, Emily and Hannah. The Lord encouraged us in many ways through this trip. When our kids were younger we always tried to include them in the ministry, and they grew up loving Mexico and our friends. It was so good to be able to introduce them to these friends. It fills my heart up when I see my boys and their wives enjoying getting to know ministry partners and friends in this way.

Our fun evening out for dinner with the family and our friends from Mexico

Saturday night we had the opportunity to go out to dinner with Aldofo, Josue and Porfirio. Our whole clan joined us including Hannah’s parents, Rich and Liz Blanco. We ate some good barbecue, which is something difficult to find in Mexico and had an amazing time together. Our mexican friends don’t speak much English, so Dawn and I had to help with translation. It also gave David and Jonathan an opportunity to work on their Spanish.

On Sunday after church we had a great lunch meeting with some friends on missions committee at Village Seven as well as Pastor Mark Bates and his wife, Tricia and Pastor Page Clark and his wife, Sarah. I enjoyed translating and helping Adolfo and Porfirio share about the vision to see the church in Mexico reach the next generation.

More Opportunities in Pennsylvania and Maryland
Dave sharing at Harvest Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

After we left Colorado I had a couple more trips. I went to the Philadelphia area, where Dawn’s brother, Ted and his family live. While there I visited a church in Lancaster, Harvest Church. I also visited a group from Trinity Church in Annapolis area. I drove up to New Jersey as well to see Dr. William Iverson. In my last post I wrote about the special visit with my friend and mentor Dr. Bill Iverson. It was a busy few days!

One of the things I enjoy about sharing our story and the testimony of all that the Lord is doing is the positive reaction from those that I go to visit. I always seek to encourage them and let them know that Dawn and I couldn’t do this work without friends like them standing with us.

Road Trip to Northern California
Church planter connection event in San Jose, California

After I trip back East I made a trip to Long Beach, Fresno and San Jose to promote our work and to connect with some fellow church planters. This trip involved a lot of time in the car, and driving through LA, which I don’t enjoy. I don’t mind driving long distances, but I don’t like LA traffic. I’m not sure who does?

Pray for My Parents

My parents live in Fresno, and my mom hasn’t been feeling well over the last month. She was in the hospital for more than 3 weeks. It’s hard to see my mom struggling to breath. She has COPD, and recently she’s had a harder time, which has caused her to need hospital care. My mom just came home from the hospital last Thursday, November 14. She’s receiving home care now. Please pray for both my mom and dad for their health and the Lord’s peace. He promises to give us a peace that passes all understanding.

God’s faithfulness through it all

I feel like I skipped over a lot in an effort to keep this post shorter, but you can see we’ve got a lot going on. There are periods when we travel often. Usually I travel alone, since Dawn’s mom is living with us it’s hard for us to all travel together.

As I mentioned above I do enjoy being able to share all the testimonies of what God is doing among us. I’ve noticed as we have opportunity to encourage others it strengthens our faith also. For the most part I enjoy traveling, although I do need time at home and there is ministry here close by as well, so I need to keep that in balance.

We appreciate your prayers as we continue on this exciting journey of faith. Next week, Dawn, her mom and I will be heading to Colorado for Thanksgiving to be with our boys and their wives, which should be a good time. We pray that the Lord richly blesses you as you celebrate Thanksgiving with your friends and loved ones!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Reconnecting with Dr. William T. Iverson

Dave with Dr. William T. Iverson

I’m writing this as I’m on my way back from a trip to the Philly area. While here I was in a few places in New Jersey, as well as Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Annapolis, Maryland. It was a fruitful trip that gave me the opportunity to tell of the wonders of the Lord and all he is doing on the Border, the Baja and Beyond!

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting my 91-year-old professor, mentor, spiritual father and friend, Dr. William “Bill” Iverson. I first met Bill when I was a 24-year-old seminary student at the International School of Theology (ISOT). ISOT is affiliated with Cru. At the time the school was at Arrowhead Springs in San Bernardino, California.

A Spiritual Father & Mentor during My Formative Years

Bill when he was 15 years old seated on the far right with his family. Bill’s dad, Daniel Iverson was an influential pastor in Miami, Florida. He started Shenandoah Presbyterian Church

I came to Christ while I was in college at Fresno State. I believe I was 20 years old at the time, so when I went to seminary I was still a relatively young believer. I needed a lot of guidance. I remember I had my share of insecurities as I was growing in my faith and learning to lead.

Bill became an important father in my life during that time. He was a unique combination of being a bold intellect. He pushed me to study and learn from the church Father’s while I was in school. He’s also the boldest personal evangelist that I’ve ever met. We would often go into a restaurant and he would begin a conversation with someone and then he would open the door for me to step in and share the gospel. At that time I was timid and wet behind the ears, so I would stumble my way through sharing the gospel.

Today I share the gospel with strangers on a regular basis, and Dawn is even bolder than me in sharing her faith. That all had its beginnings with Dr. Bill.

I remember one specific conversation we had in an old greasy spoon in the downtown area of San Bernardino. Bill started up conversations that led to opportunities to share the gospel with two or three people while we were there.

After these conversations I told Bill that I felt timid or fearful to just talk to strangers like that. He told me something that has stuck with me to this day. He said, “remember that these people are afraid as well, but the difference is that you have the Holy Spirit to guide and lead you.”

Wow! That was a game-changer!

I can’t say that I all of the sudden became a bold evangelist, but it did set in motion my growth to becoming bolder and more committed to sharing the good news of the gospel.

The Beginnings of My Call to Mexico

Dr. Iverson (top middle in blue) & Dave (bottom right in red) with other ISOT students and professors on a retreat during the 1984/85 school year

Another huge way that Bill influenced me is that he led a group of 16 students from ISOT to Cuernavaca and Mexico City for six weeks in the summer of 1985. It was on this trip that the Lord gripped my heart and gave me a love for Mexico.

Dr. Iverson taught us, students, the importance of reading broadly to learn from other disciplines and to help us to engage with them and the world around us. He and the students I studied with made my seminary experience an excellent one!

Dawn used to live across the street from Bill before she moved into the city and became one of my neighbors. Bill likes to claim responsibility for Dawn and my relationship, which may be slightly exaggerated! Yet, he did know both of us when we were single and he definitely encouraged us in our relationship.

Dr. Iverson signing a book for me. He’s written 2 or 3 books (one of them is called, Jesus and the Ways of Socrates, which is available on Amazon). He always likes to give me books.

I give thanks to the Lord for Dr. Iverson, and for how the Lord used Bill in our lives! I wouldn’t be who I am today without the influence of my mentor and spiritual father. Thankfully the Lord brought other mentors into my life over the years, like Dr. Thomas Graham. I see God’s goodness and love in how he gave me such good men to influence my life.

For all these reasons and more it was so good to be reunited with my gregarious, intellectual, ironic and bold professor.

One of my prayers is that I can be a spiritual father and mentor to the men and women that the Lord privileges us to work with. I believe that is taking place through the church planters and leaders that we work within Mexico, Cuba, and other countries. Thank you, Jesus!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

A guest post by Jonathan Diaso
Jonathan with his papa, Dave

This is a guest post written by my son, Jonathan Diaso. He wrote this in memory of his sister, Hannah Elizabeth Diaso. Last Friday, October 18th was the 3rd year anniversary of when Hannah moved to heaven.

I love how Jonathan shares his journey and how the Lord used his sister in his life. I asked Jonathan if it would be okay to share it with you on my blog, and he agreed!


I used to be a Christian – How I left the Church and Finally Found Jesus
Hannah and Jonathan

I still wonder to this day how I was churched since I was born, but never actually knew Jesus on a personal level. Some of you may have a similar experience and some of you may think the idea of “knowing Jesus” is crazy. You might also be wondering how leaving the church led me to Jesus. God has put this on my heart to share with those who have been to church and never really encountered Jesus, those who have never been to church and also those who have a negative perspective on the word Church or Christianity. While I love Jesus there are concerns I have regarding the word “Christian”. What makes a person a Christian anyhow? 

You may have been told that if you do all the right things then Jesus will love you. Whether this emphasis was intended by the church or not I often felt this way. Jesus opened my eyes by showing me that I am welcome “As is”. I do not have to earn his love as he loved me before I was even born. I do good things, because I am loved by God not so that God will love me back. I believe we have a hard time rationalizing this as how many of your friends would love you back if you did not show them affection? “The Christian does not believe that God will love us because we are good rather that he will make us good because he loves us” (C.S. Lewis). God loves you as you are and not as you should be. 

My Christian friends and I would meet up years ago and discuss which biblical laws we were or were not following, we tried to be good people. C.S. Lewis explains this very well, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good”. The Bible talks about the law of works or what I call the do good things gospel and this type of Christianity does not work. While this method seeks to fix the side effects of how we should behave, this process forgets the purpose as to why we do these things. I once heard the statement, “Some people have just enough Jesus to be miserable”. 

I am a Christian, I go to church (in-fact I love my church family), but being a Christian far exceeds attending Church. My Church reads this card every service, “If you are a… Saint, Sinner, Loser, Gambler, Lost, Fearful, ADHD, Liar, Hypocrite, Bastard, Lover, Cutter, Tweaker, Alcoholic, Adopted, Abandoned, Leftover, Divorced, LGBT, Alone, Old, Young, Driven, Cheater, Success, Infected, Rejected, Pierced and Tatted or Just a Misfit… YOU ARE WELCOME HERE” (The Sanctuary Church). I believe that all are welcome in God’s house and are loved where they are at. In other words you come in a mess and God says, “I am going to make your mess a message.” 

Why do I bring this all up today? Three years ago my sister Hannah moved to heaven. Hannah accepted everyone and brought the gospel to outcasts. At Hannah’s prayer vigil I heard many stories of how Hannah had impacted those around her. One of them shared by her friend Jake stood out to me, “No one loved those around her more than Hannah, she knew how to love the margins. When we were out doing ministry Hannah felt God speak to her and she knew she needed to go pray for a man sitting nearby. The man that stood out to Hannah was covered in tattoos (even a tear tattoo next to his eye, commonly a prison tattoo). Plainly put, this man was someone that people often try to avoid. Hannah Did not care what he looked like, what his background was, whether he did good things with his life, how he dressed etc. Hannah knew that God’s love transcended social status and she knew how to bring the message of the Gospel to people of all colors, races and social statuses. When Hannah prayed for this stranger he began to cry, he could not understand why my sister cared about him. He likely knew he did not earn or deserve her love that day. Hannah went up to him without fear of how he would react, she knew that Jesus would do the rest.” Jake did share with me that he would not let her go by herself, which was still a smart call. Jake was amazed by the passion and love that this young woman carried. 

Jonathan gave Hannah this Bible, and as you can see in the text she loved it!

Hannah was highly influential in my life as I attribute much of who I am today to her example over the years. Hannah reminded me later in life that it is not enough to be a Christian and to try to be good people so that we can make it to heaven. We were put on this earth for a reason and God wants to use you and me to love those around us and yes this means loving people before they earn it. I spent many years of my life trying to be a good Christian, hiding my issues in attempt to be accepted and loved by other Christians. I now know that, God does not need to use guilt and shame, because love and grace do a damn good job. There is a famous song that goes, “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross”. While this is a powerful line used to thank Jesus for what he did, we actually have a need to know how much it cost for him to die on that cross. When you and I realize how much it cost we also realize our value. Before you and I did anything to earn his love, God sent his son to die for you and me. “Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!” (Romans 5:8, TPT). While I left the church years ago, I encountered Jesus in various ways since. While I am still in process and in pursuit of a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father, God is still molding me daily to be more like Christ. Christianity is no longer a religion for me. This is the story of how one woman in her short life impacted her older brother and many others around her in an incredible way. If you want to know Jesus on a more personal level send me a message. This could change your life.

Hannah, I love you!

Renuevo – Renewal in Ensenada
Pastor Petri leading the church service

On Sunday Dawn and I went to Ensenada and worshipped with our church plant there, Renuevo. It’s a joy for us to connect with the people at the church. Pastor Petri and his wife, Yudy are doing a wonderful job of leading this church. Both of them work in the public school system in Mexico. Petri is the superintendent of the middle schools in Tecate, and Yudy teaches at one of the schools there.

It’s no easy task being a bivocational church planter. Petri and Yudy aren’t able to give as much time to the church plant as they would if they were full-time in the ministry. On the positive side though it does help them and the church in other ways. It helps them to not be dependent on the church for their income. Although we’d love to see the church get to the point where it can support them, we’ve found that few churches are able to pull this off in Mexico.

The other benefit we’ve seen is that Petri and Yudy have a lot of connections in Ensenada, because of all their years working in the school system. Before they began working in Tecate they spent a number of years in both public and private schools in Ensenada. I’ve noticed that those that know them respect them, because they work hard and they are good at what they do.

A Church for All People
Pastor Victor & Sol. Sol leads tutoring for children that come from poor and underprivileged families in the community surrounding their church

A number of the other churches that we are helping to plant are among the urban poor, which is also an important group to reach for the gospel. Petri and Yudy are able to reach professionals, because of their education and background. We love the variety of churches that we work with, and that we help plant. There is a need for all kinds of churches that have the ability to reach different people in order to make a difference in a community.

Of the eleven churches that we’ve helped start since we moved to the border seven years ago. Seven of them target urban poor and four of them target professionals. Each of these pastors and the churches are unique and we’ve grown to love the pastors and their leadership team. They are among are closest friends.

Praying for Multiplication

Our prayer is that this is only the beginning and that we will begin to see even more rapid multiplication of church growth on the Border, the Baja and Beyond. We’ve also helped plant two churches in Cuba and we’ve ministered to more than 60 pastors there. Part of what excites me about Cuba is that some of our Mexican partners have been involved in ministry there with us.

God is doing something special between the relationship of the pastors from these two countries! As one of my friends told me recently we believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg as we work towards multiplication! Hallelujah!

I enjoyed the opportunity to lead Eduardo & Norma with their son Ilai through baptism. They lost their first child soon after he was born. God is doing His healing work in them!

When Dawn and I were with Renuevo and Pastor Petri and Yudy on Sunday. I was able to lead the church in a baptism and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. It was a very special time, and I left feeling filled up as the Lord ministered to Dawn, me and all those in attendance.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Traning Pastors and Church Planters
Training with Red de Multiplicación in Mexico City

I give thanks for the goodness of God! Over the last month I’ve been able to train church planters in Cuba, Mexico City and Tijuana. I love helping pastors start new churches. It’s the most effective way to reach people for Christ, and this is true no matter where you are in the world.

A number of the pastors I work with have so little. It strengthens my faith as I see the sacrifices they make for the kingdom. When I’m with these friends and see how they live and minister it helps me to put things in perspective about what is truly important in life. One of the things we struggle with in America, and I’m sure it happens around the world, is comparing ourselves to others. The devil uses this to get our eye off of the ball, off of what is truly important. I’m reminded of how Christ told us to put our “treasure in heaven where neither moth or rust destroys and where thieves do no break in and steal.” Then Jesus drives the point home and tells us, “for where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20, 21).

The enemy wants to to forget where are true treasure lies.

That’s not to say that it is easy for the church planters that I work with. Nor does it mean that they never struggle with comparing themselves to others. Yet, I do believe many of them do not get as entangled in some of the trappings that we trip over in our more affluent culture.

The Challenges & Trials
Training with Ben Meyer, Abraham Velazquez and Federico & Blanca Muñoz and other church planters in Tijuana

These pastors do face many obstacles and many trials as they serve the Lord. My heart goes out to them, and I find myself often wishing that I could do more. So when I’m training them I always seek to be sensitive to the Spirit and what is going on in their lives. That way Dawn and I can encourage them and pray for them.

Just before I started writing this I received a message from one of our dear friends from Cuba telling us that her cousin just lost her baby, and another close friend of theirs was killed in an accident. On Friday Dawn and I met with some of our church planters that live near us on the border and their daughter told me that she was sleeping on cushions on the floor, because they don’t have a bed for her. It breaks my heart to learn how many of our faithful friends are living and the circumstances that they are facing.

When we train it’s more than just how to plant a church. It’s more than just how to write a vision statement or a mission statement we have to care for the individuals. When we can bring the need for competencies, knowledge, emotional, spiritual and physical needs together we see the Lord working in amazing ways. It’s one of my chief joys in ministry. To care for the whole person and their families. The relationships that we build are priceless!

The Rewards of Ministry
Church Planting Training with our Cuban friends

Part of the reward of ministering in this way, apart from seeing churches planted, and people coming to Christ which is a true reward within itself is the love and relationship we develop with these church planters. As I’ve mentioned in the past some of them come to refer to Dawn and me as dad and mom. Some of their children call us their grandparents, which I guess is also part of getting gray as we age.

As we minister in this way we see the Lord bringing rich and bountiful blessings. We see the church growing, and people coming to Christ. Lives and communities are being transformed by the gospel!

All this is made possible by so many people like you who pray for what God is doing here. God hears your prayers and he responds. It’s exciting to be on mission with God. Thanks so much for joining us on this wild and joyful ride!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

The Challenges & Opportunities of Life in Cuba

Our group of leaders with the Red de Multiplicación discussing church planting at Café La Habana in Mexico City

After I’ve spent time in Cuba with our dear friends, our familia Cubana, I always feel like I have so much I could share, so much I would like to write. It’s hard to capture it all in a short post. Yet I will attempt to give you a glimpse.

One of the things I learned on this trip is that my birthday, December 2nd is an important albeit sad day for Cuba. It is the day that Fidel arrived on the shores of Cuba from Mexico to overthrow the government and begin the revolution. When I told my Cuban friends when my birthday was they began to laugh because it is now an infamous day.

Interestingly enough I was just in Mexico City last week, and I had a breakfast meeting to discuss church planting. Our meeting was held at Café La Habana, which is where Castro met with others to plan out the revolution. The changes he brought have had devastating consequences on the people and the country. It breaks my heart to see how the people suffer.

This bus with all the metal bars on the windows and the metal seats made me feel like it was a bus for prisoners. This is the normal mode of transportation for Cubans. Usually, the bus is standing room only, but we rented this bus.

While I was there Cuba was experiencing a petroleum crisis, so it made it very difficult for the people to find transportation. The transportation isn’t very good to start with. The pastors often have to wait up to 5 hours or more to find available transportation when they are traveling to other cities for their ministry.

The petroleum crisis also means that the price of basic food goes up: chicken, rice, pork, cooking oil, eggs, etc. It’s so hard to see these precious servants of our Heavenly Father living on so little. Yet God is gracious and He is caring for His people. The Cubans I know are resilient and they have such strong faith that it strengthens my faith when I interact with them.

I share my experiences in Cuba to educate, but also with the hope that you will pray. God is doing a great work there. The church is growing. People are coming to faith. The Lord is healing people and providing in supernatural ways.

God is Growing His Church

Our church planting candidates and staff at the Discovery Center

While I was there our team which was made up of mostly Cuban leaders evaluated 10 individuals, 5 church planting couples. These church planters always leave our time together with glowing reports. I love the opportunity to meet and encourage these new leaders. Like I’ve shared before, I’m always struck by their commitment to serve the Lord and His church under such challenging circumstances.

Pastor Yeisel & Liannys Basulto
Pastor Yeisel and Liannys

One of the young couples I met there, Yeisel and Liannys who are my kids’ age, so I felt a special connection with them. They’ve only been serving at the church where they are, which is near Santi Spíritus for 10 months. The church has already grown from 9 to 50 people in that short time. They have tremendous potential as leaders.

The church is in an area where there are a number of witches and altars to foreign deities, which is common in Cuba. They live right next to a brick-making factory, and all the smoke is causing Liannys health problems. She’s had an allergic reaction which adversely affects her eyes. Pray for them as they endure such hardship, and serve so faithfully.

The group of church planters who joined us for a day and a half of training

The other event that I was involved in while I was in Cuba was helping to train church planters. We had 20 church planters join us for the training. The lack of transportation kept more from coming. It was such a rich time, and the Lord met us in a wonderful way. One of the highlights was as part of our time we spent time for praying for couples and individuals. We all felt the Lord’s presence, and we left strengthened.

Join Us in Prayer!

Yany, Rachel and Jorge leading worship in Cabaiguán

Join us in praying for all these wonderful church planters. The Lord is doing something very special in Cuba despite all the opposition. Just today I received an email from one of the church planting families, Mario, and Yany who live in Cabaiguán. They told us that one of their church planters, Pastor Jorge and his wife, Rachel are starting a new mission church. We pray for the Lord’s protection for our Cuban family, and the continued multiplication of the church there. Hallelujah for all that Jesus is doing!

God is Growing His Church

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org