Archive for the ‘Church Planting’ Category

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

My Best Ministry Trip to Date!
Dave with Pastor Mario and his wife, Yany and their church in Cabaiguán

I just returned from a two week trip to Cuba. It was an outstanding trip, and the Lord showed up in some amazing ways. I’m not even sure where to start or how to communicate all that the Lord did while I was there!

This was my best ministry trip in 30 plus years of ministry!

Since I have been going to Cuba for a number of years now the relationships keep growing deeper, which opens the doors for more fruit. As I’ve mentioned before some of the Cubans refer to Dawn and me as mom and dad. They are a very relational and family oriented people.

Amazing Testimonies
Pastor Luis Jimenez leading the church in Sibanicú

Some of the highlights from the tip came from the testimonies about all that our awesome God is doing through our Cuban family. For example, Pastor Luis and his wife, May shared how the Lord used some of the prayers and promises that I sent them a few weeks ago. They read them out loud during one of their church services as they prayed and claimed God’s promises. As they cried out to the Lord they began to feel Jesus and the Spirit in a close and personal way. Hallelujah!

Another wonderful story. Our great and amazing God healed a woman who had cancer. Dawn and I sent Luis and May some prayers that we’ve found helpful as we minister in Latin America. They used these prayers to pray over Maria who had breast cancer. Unfortunately, Maria already had a mastectomy on one of her breasts. The doctors told her that she only had one living cell in her other breast. The church came together and prayed, and they believed that Jesus would minister to Maria and bring her healing.

When Maria went back to the doctor they didn’t find any cancer. The doctors not being believers got upset, and they told her that maybe the cancer had moved to her brain or her lungs. When they ran further tests they all came back clean. Maria was completely healed of cancer!

Freedom and Deliverance!
May praying with Maria and leading her to faith in Christ

Witchcraft, Santeria and other demonic practices are prevalent in Cuba. Many of my friends churches have witches, and altars to foreign deities near where they are ministering.

While I was with Pastor Luis and May they asked me to pray with them for a woman in the church, Fabiola who needed healing and deliverance. She had been involved in witchcraft in the past, and her ex mother-in-law was also a witch and she was putting curses on her. Fabiola is a beautiful young woman, and by looking at her you would never know what was going on. She told me that she had some terrible experiences with deliverance in the past, so she was a little nervous when she met with May and me. Fabiola said that although she was anxious she was also excited and hopeful, because she heard of how I helped another one of their leaders that last time I visited the church.

May and I spent about 3 hours praying with Fabiola and leading her to Jesus. It wasn’t easy, but it strengthened my faith to see Christ move in her heart, and bring Fabiola healing and freedom. It was a powerful time! We saw first hand how we are victorious in Christ. “Greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Fabiola was so thankful and she had a beautiful smile when we finished our time together!

God is Doing An Amazing Work Through the Challenges!
Pastor Justo (far left) and his wife Sara (3rd from the left) along with the house church leaders in Jatibonico. They have a vision to reach at least 1,000 people

There were many other opportunities that I had to pray for people and encourage them. The Lord is so faithful to meet us at our point of need! I especially enjoyed my time of ministry with the pastors and church planters. Such special and dear people who have made so many sacrifices to serve the Lord.

Every time I go to Cuba I leave feeling that my faith is strengthened. I feel this way, because of the testimony of my friends, many of whom have become like family to us. They have such deep faith in some of the most difficult circumstances that I’ver ever seen. Most of them have a profound commitment to prayer and fasting. They live off of $10 – $50 a month, and yet they continue to faithfully serve the Lord. Instead of letting the challenges stop them they use it as motivation to trust the Lord to provide.

God sees their affliction. He is near the brokenhearted and he delivers them as he promises to do.

So Close yet a World Apart!
Some of the modes of transportation in Cuba – Quite an adventure!

The Island of Cuba is only 90 miles south of Florida. It takes less than an hour to fly from Miami to most cities in Cuba, and yet it’s a whole different world! It’s truly mind boggling!

There are many more stories that I could tell of people coming to Christ, of the Lord bringing healing, freedom and comfort to our friends on the island of Cuba. I hope to share more in a future post.

Thank you so much for praying for me for this trip. I strongly believe one of the reasons that this was my best ministry trip ever was because of all the prayer. The Lord does indeed hear our prayers!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Giving Thanks for our Wonderful Partners!

This morning I was reading Philippians 1, which is one of my favorite passages. Even though I’ve read it many times before today verses 4 and 5 jumped off the page, and especially the phrase, because of your partnership in the gospel.

Paul says he is thankful for the church and he is praying for them and then verse 5 says, “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Phil. 1:5

It is my custom to pray in the morning for our ministry partners, and often the Lord gives me a passage or a word, something encouraging to share with them as I pray. Then I send a message to them letting them know that we are praying for them, and that the Lord encouraged me with this passage or this word today.

Our Growing Family & Redemption!

Dawn and I have grown to have a deep love for these partners, and many of them have become like family to us. We have partners in various cities in Cuba, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador. It seems like the net, the family keeps growing as we are beginning to develop relationships with pastors and leaders in Honduras and Guatemala as well. Only the Lord truly knows where these gospel centered relationships will take us.

I often feel when the Lord extends our family through these deep relationships that it’s a way He is redeeming our pain and all that we’ve suffered through the loss of our beautiful and dear daughter, Hannah.

It’s interesting to me that the passage that struck me this morning includes Philippians 1:6, which is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Our family decided to put verse 6 on Hannah’s tombstone.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6 ESV

Renuevo – New Life in Ensenada

Last Sunday, Dawn and I along with her mom, her brother and his family joined us in Ensenada. We joined our new church plant Renuevo for their service. I preached on God’s goodness and his desire to have an intimate relationship with us from John 10. At the end of the service I led them in prayer and we celebrated the Lord’s supper together. I guided the church through a time of confession and forgiveness during our time of prayer. I love the opportunity to see people break down walls through the gospel which leads to confession, repentance, forgiveness and freedom in Christ.

The Lord gave us a wonderful and special time of celebration together!

When the service was over I talked to a new family that recently started attending the church as a result of our summer VBS. I noticed that they didn’t take communion with us, so I asked them about their relationship with Christ. This gave me the opportunity to share the gospel with them, and to lead them in prayer to receive Christ and confess their need for the only living and true Savior, Jesus Christ.

I love seeing people come to faith, and start their journey with Jesus!

After everyone had left Dawn and I went out for a meal with the leadership team of Renuevo, which is led by Pastor Petri and his wife, Yudy. Such a great group! We always enjoy the opportunity to break bread with them.

Our experience with them, reminded me of all of our dear partners in the gospel. People that we’ve grown to love, and who we have a strong and growing relationship with!

Extend Our Borders!

Paul writes about his deep love and the importance of his partnership with the church in Philippi. I echo his sentiment when he says the following in Philippians 1:7.

It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace…”

Dawn and I are so blessed and grateful to have such wonderful partners and a growing family in Ensenada, Tijuana, Mexicali, Mexico City and Beyond! The Lord has answered our prayers to see our borders expanded. Now we have close and growing partners beyond Mexico’s borders throughout Latin America.

I’m flying to Cuba this week to encourage and minister with our partners there. We covet your prayers, as the Lord continues to open more doors!

Thank you, Jesus! Your love overwhelms us at times, and we experience it in tangible ways through these relationships, through these partners in the gospel!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Prayer to Expand Our Borders

Our dear friends and growing family in Cuba!Our dear friends and growing family in Cuba!

A few years ago, we began praying that the Lord would expand our borders. We like to say the Border, the Baja and Beyond. Dawn and I didn’t just choose those words for alliteration, but it’s the vision for what we believe the Lord has called us to. We truly long to see the border, the Baja and even beyond transformed by the gospel. We’ve prayed and asked others to join us in praying to see the beyond part of our vision for ministry become a reality. Since the time we began to look to the Lord to expand our reach God has opened doors for us to minister in El Salvador, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Cuba. Of these countries, Cuba is the place we’ve seen the greatest opportunities as well as the greatest needs.

Dawn and I have grown to love the people of Cuba!

Open Doors in Cuba

Dave and Dawn with Pastor Mario and his wife, YanyDave and Dawn with Pastor Mario and his wife, Yany

Over the last five years, Dawn and I have made various trips to Cuba to strengthen the leaders there. We have participated in church-planters assessment and training. I have also trained pastors and leaders in mentoring/coaching. Each experience has been unique, and our loving Father has connected us with some amazing people.

It’s been a great joy to partner with the church leaders in Cuba. I must admit that I feel torn, and I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s heartbreaking to see how the people live on so little, and all the oppression they suffer. Most of the people in Cuba live off of $20 – $40 a month unless they have relatives in the US that have a way to send them money via Western Union. Presently those that live in Cuba have to stand in long lines to buy chicken, bread, rice, soap, and other basic needs. Despite their circumstances, they are a resilient people, who have unbelievably strong faith. Somehow the Cubans I’ve met have managed to maintain a positive outlook on life. They are good-natured and we enjoy their sense of humor.

The Lord Redeems and Expands our Family

Pastor Luis & May with their children Zuri & DavidPastor Luis & May with their children Zuri & David

Because of the harsh realities of life in Cuba, the leaders are desperate for encouragement and connection. Dawn and I feel like it’s a privilege to minister to these friends, who have become like family. A number of them now refer to us as mom and dad as we have loved them and encouraged them. One of the families that we’ve become close to they not only call us mom and dad but their children call us grandpa and grandma.

As I wrote the paragraph above, it felt a little awkward sharing this with a largely USA audience. It’s hard to get across the nearness of these relationships via the written word. Also, Latin cultures are more family-oriented and it’s more natural for them to think of us in this way. It’s not as common in the USA for us to refer to another person that we love as our father and mother. This is one of the elements that I love about Latin cultures.

The Lord has blessed us so much through these friends who are now family. It’s one more way the Lord has redeemed and is redeeming Hannah’s early home going. I’m not sure if anything this side of heaven can fully restore the hole that has been left in our lives, but I do believe that we have a good and loving Father and he does bring us healing. There is healing in his wings!

Pray for Cuba and for More open Doors

Dave with Mario & Yani and Sara who is married to Pastor Justo. Justo and Sara are also great friends who train others to plant churches in Cuba!Dave with Mario & Yani and Sara who is married to Pastor Justo. Justo and Sara are also great friends!

I am planning on returning to Cuba in September. I’m not looking forward to the heat, but I can’t wait to be reunited with our Cuban family! This gives us an opportunity to work with and encourage the pastors that we’ve met from previous trips and help them to plant churches.

Even with all that our Cuban family is facing the church is growing. God is alive, and he is definitely at work in Cuba. Dawn and I would love for you to be a part of all the Lord is doing in this Caribbean country.

Dave praying with some of the church planters, Osmeiki & Yoiset, Mario & Yany, and other leaders. Wonderful people!

Please pray with us for these wonderful families and the work that they are doing in Cuba. Some of the couples that we are working with are Luis & May, Mario & Yany, Justo & Sara, Oniel & Heidy, Adnier & Mariesly, Ernesto & Damara, Ernesto & Yanelkys, Frank & Ariadna, Yamil & Yuneisi, Rene & Yarelis, Jorge & Rachel, Osmeiki & Yoiset and many more.

Thanks, dear friends, for joining us on this journey and praying with us!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Alliance for Latina America

The Alliance for Latin America met together in Lima, Peru at the beginning
of July

In my last post, I wrote about how the Lord richly blessed me and opened some amazing doors for ministry while I was in Colombia and Perú. I wasn’t able to write as much about my time in Lima, Peru, so I’d like to that today.

I went to Lima, Peru for an alliance meeting with 23 different organizations who are all interested in coming together to reach Latin America for Christ. I found it encouraging that so many have decided to come together and work for the expansion of the kingdom. I pray for the gospel and Christ’s church to grow like wildfire throughout Latin America.

God Show Up in Different and Unexpected Ways

The center of the city in Lima Peru.

Something that I’ve noticed about life and ministry is often when we go to participate in ministry meetings that the Lord has other significant opportunities that weren’t necessarily planned. Dawn and I often pray that we will be open to the Spirit’s leading so that we take advantage of the ministry that he brings to us.

When Dawn isn’t with me I’m not able to rely on her extroversion to help me meet people and open up conversations. I do enjoy talking to the various taxi drivers, especially when I’m in a new country. It’s something that I do it in Mexico as well.

The Gospel & the Taxi Driver

The National Palace in Lima, Peru

Right away in Lima I had to find a taxi. It took me a while, but I finally figured out how to go about getting a safe taxi from a company that I could trust. The taxi driver that helped me out was about my age and he was very friendly.

We began to talk, and I asked him about his family. He told me he had three children and two of them are 28, and that they are twins. I told him that one of my sons is 28, and as I shared about our family I mentioned how our daughter, Hannah moved to heaven two and a half years ago. I told him that it is very painful, but faith and the hope of heaven sustains us.

He began to open up with me, and he said that one of his sons is doing very well, and he works at the airport. The other son, however, has struggled with drug abuse and addictions and that he is presently in jail. He told both his wife and he had been praying for his son nonstop, but he didn’t believe the Lord was answering his prayers and it seemed like he was giving up.

God’s Redeeming Work

The city of Lima, Peru.

I took the opportunity to share with him about the importance of having a relationship with Christ, and how Good our Father is. He desires to give us good gifts. He is a good and loving Father.

After we talked for a little while he also told me that he had been involved in witchcraft and tarot cards. I asked him if he’d be open to praying with me, and he said he was, so we began to pray. I led him to pray to receive Christ as his savior, to confess his sins, forgive those that have hurt him and to break off his past relationship with witchcraft and evil. It was an hour drive from the airport to my hotel because there was a lot of traffic.

After we prayed, since we had time and I felt like he could use it I asked him if he’d like to pray some more to break off whatever evil he had been tied to and to download God’s goodness and love. He was willing so we continued to pray. After we prayed and I shared with him and encouraged him by the time we got to my hotel his countenance had changed. He looked less heavy. He told me he felt peace. Hallelujah!

Thankful for the Openness in Peru

One of the churches found it Lima. We pray for much more!

I found that the people in Peru were very open and willing to pray with me. I was able to pray and share the gospel with all my taxi drivers and led five others in prayer to confess Christ. A number of my taxi drivers were from Venezuela. More than 10% of Venezuela’s population has left the country, because of all the political unrest there. This I’m sure makes them more open. It’s uncomfortable to have to move so far and leave your home, but the Lord uses these trials of life to open people’s hearts. As Jesus said, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36 ESV) Earthly comforts don’t compare to what heaven has to offer.

It’s so good when the Lord opens these doors to people’s hearts, and he lets me be a part of that. This is life-giving for them and for me. When I have these opportunities I’m reminded of the sower and the seed, not all the seed will bear fruit. Yet, if we aren’t sowing, if I’m not sowing there is not an opportunity for the seed to produce fruit. Also, it’s the Spirit’s work to bring growth. We do our part in dependence on our loving Father.

Your prayers make a difference. The Lord hears as we cry out to him and he provides the increase. Thank you, Jesus!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org