Posts Tagged ‘Cuba’

Our Familia in Cuba Needs Our Prayers!
Mario & Yani with their team of church planters

Our familia – Mario & Yani with their team of church planters. From the top left moving clockwise: Junior & Kendra with Mario & Yany; Jorge & Rachel with Dave; Mario & Yany with Dave; Dave next to Yoiset & Osmeiki

Yesterday (Sunday), Cuba held an election to legalize gay marriage. The results of the election are to be released today. I decided to write about this because it is affecting many of my friends, our familia in Cuba.

Some of the pastors in Cuba are undergoing persecution because the church is opposing the legalization of gay marriage. While I was with my friends a couple of weeks ago, they told me what was going on, and it concerns me. We need to be praying for our brothers and the church in Cuba.

The Challenges of Dealing with the LGBT Agenda
Luis & May with their children Zuri & David

Pastor Luis & May with their children Zuri & David

Unfortunately, we’ve seen the gay LGBT agenda making headway around the world. I’m willing to admit that the church has done a poor job of showing love to the LGBT community. We’ve struggled to figure out how to lovingly show that we do not agree with the LGBT lifestyle. I mean the Bible calls it sin, yet there are many other sins the Bible refers to, and in those cases, we seem to more effectively show love and grace to the person without agreeing with what he or she is doing. This is something the church has to do a better job addressing.

I don’t want to focus so much on the overall problem of the church and the LGBT community in this post. My focus here is what’s going on in Cuba and how we can pray for our brothers and sisters there.

While I was in Cuba I learned that the government allowed the gay community to hold a march and to also hold a huge rally in a stadium supporting their cause. When the church asked for the same privilege they were denied.

The church sent a letter to the governing officials stating their case and asking for the opportunity to represent for their view in public. They wanted to present their side of the argument, but they were denied. They were not allowed to organize a march and they were not allowed to hold a rally.

It’s interesting that in 1960 when things shifted dramatically in Cuba that pastors, Catholic clergy and homosexuals were imprisoned. This left the church without their main leaders for a number of years. Most families didn’t even know where these pastors were for three years or more. We can also see the cultural shift here, at one point the government saw the homosexual community as a threat to their society. Now there has been this huge swing, and they are actually promoting the LGBT agenda. They have denied the right of the church to promote what the Bible teaches about the family.

Our Battle is Spiritual
Prayer in Camaguey. These people are warriors!

Prayer in Camaguey. These people are warriors!

I think that in large part this is the agenda of the god of this world. He is the enemy of the church and the enemy of our soul. The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 6 that our struggle, our battle is not with flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities.

Our friends many of whom refer to us as part of their family have come under oppression during these days because they have refused to support the LGBT lifestyle.

I must admit barring a miracle this new law allowing gay marriage is going to pass. Of course, our God is a God of miracles so he can do the impossible.

Great Sacrifices Made for the Gospel
Some of the wonderful friends the Lord has given us that have become family

Some of our wonderful friends that the Lord has given us who have become family. What a precious gift they are!

My heart goes out to our family on this small island. They’ve suffered so much for the sake of the gospel. They’ve made sacrifices so that the gospel might be proclaimed. Sacrifices that most of us can’t even conceive of. Dawn and I admire their commitment to Christ and his church. I feel that it challenges our faith in a good way.

The church in Cuba is growing in large part, because of their willingness to serve and minister despite the huge costs. Christ paid the ultimate price so that we might have life. They are following in Christ’s footsteps so that others might hear the good news and come to faith. I give thanks to the Lord for their example and their amazing faith and commitment to follow Jesus.

Join us in Prayer!
Pastor Ivan praying for church planters Osmeiki and Yosiet

Pastor Ivan praying for church planters Osmeiki and Yosiet

Join us in praying for our Cuban familia, made up of many pastors and leaders and those under their care. Pray that the church continues to grow despite the opposition and that the Lord sustains the pastors, especially those who are experiencing persecution. We live in this crazy mixed up world, where men wear beautiful gowns (see Oscars Ceremony Sunday night) and people call wrong right and right wrong.

Our hope is that Jesus is on the throne. He rules! Jesus promised us in this world we would have many trials, but he also said cheer up, because I have overcome the world! (John 16:33) Thank you, Jesus!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Our group with the church planters in Havana
Our group with the church planters in Havana

This morning I drank my coffee from a cup that a friend from Cuba, Ailyn gave me that says I ❤️ Cuba. I just returned from this Carribean Island last Wednesday night. I thought I would never love a people as much as I love my Mexican hermanos, where Dawn and I have lived and served over the last 30 years. Yet, I must admit our Cuban friends have stolen our hearts! And as Dawn and I travel especially in Latin America we are finding a growing love for those we meet and minister with there also. God is on the move and it’s fun to be part of what he is doing!

Hannah, Havana and Beyond!
The church planters doing an exercise during the Discovery Center in Havana

The church planters doing an exercise during the Discovery Center in Havana

Still to this day I’m not sure how to reconcile my daughter, Hannah’s early homegoing. God is bringing us healing along the journey, but there’s so much we don’t understand! Why do I mention this here, after writing my first paragraph about my growing love for Cuba? Well, just before Hannah moved to heaven Dawn and I began to pray that the Lord would increase our reach, and extend our borders.

On January 1 of 2017, just 2 months after Hannah moved to heaven Dawn and I were with our two sons, David and Jonathan and we heard a sermon on Isaiah 54, which speaks of how God is going to enlarge the tent of the barren woman. It addresses loss, the inability to have children, and the Lord’s wonderful promise for redemption and an increase! We claimed that passage as a promise for our family and our ministry, and we prayed for a breakthrough.

“”Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.”

Isaiah‬ ‭54:1-3‬ ‭ESV (emphasis mine)

Enlarging Our Reach!

Since that time we’ve been able to minister in Cuba, El Salvador, Uruguay, Colombia, and Ecuador. It’s not just geographically that we’ve seen an increase, but also in the depth or our ministry. The Lord has connected us with some wonderful people in these countries. The place that especially stands out apart from Mexico is Cuba.

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

Dawn and I are amazed at the depth of relationship the Lord has given us in Cuba. It’s amazing, because despite only being able to go to Cuba once or twice a year, through email and WhatsApp we’ve been able to communicate and stay in touch with our unbelievable friends there. Some of them have become like family to us.

The Call to be a Spiritual Father & Mother
Luis & May with their children Zuri & David
Luis & May with their children Zuri & David

Some of the couples now call us their parents. People need to be loved and encouraged all over the world, but especially those who live in a country that makes internet access and communication so difficult. One particular pastor Luis and his wife, May told me while I was there on this last trip, that there has been a marked difference in their ministry since they met Dawn and me last year. Luis and May are very gifted, and the Lord is using them in remarkable ways. So it’s surprising for me to learn that they feel there has been an increase in their effectiveness in ministry over the last year!

They’ve suffered much as they’ve ministered over the years. I don’t know if I’ve personally ever met people who have sacrificed as much for the gospel as our friends in Cuba. They’ve gone without food. They’ve walked for hours in the hot sun each day to reach an unreached community. Now they have sun spots, sun damaged skin from being in the sun so long without the ability to purchase sunscreen to protect themselves. These friends and others call us their parents, which is a real privilege for us. They have truly stolen our hearts.

Mario & Yani Ministering in Cabaiguan
Mario & Yani with their team of church planters
Mario & Yany with their team of church planters. From top left clockwise: Junior & Kendra with Yany & Mario, Jorge & Rachel with Dave, Dave with Mario & Yany, Dave next to Yoiset & Osmeiki

One of the other young couples who live and minister in Cabaiguan, Mario and Yany are doing a wonderful job in their community. They are leading a team of four young church planting couples. Dawn and I first met Mario and Yany less than two months after Hannah moved to heaven. Yany was only 20 years old then. When Dawn first met Yany, tears streamed down Dawn’s face as meeting Yany reminded her of our daughter and what could have been, as Hannah had a growing interest in ministry. We’ve grown to love Mario and Yany, and it’s such a joy to be able to encourage them in their work.

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 & Yany and Sara who is married to Pastor Justo. Justo and Sara are also great friends who train church planters and leaders to plant churches in Cuba!

A little over a year ago Yany’s mom died of cancer leaving Yany without a mom at a young age. Dawn and Yany have bonded over the loss of a mother and a daughter. The two of them have come together to encourage and love one another even as they mourn.

Join Us in Prayer for Cuba and Beyond!

There are other friends in Cuba who we also feel close to, and every year we go back we meet new friends. Our Cuban family continues to grow and we get to know all our friends there better. What a wonderful gift the Lord has given us. This is part of the answer to our hearts cry. Part of the answer to our prayers that the Lord would enlarge our tent! Thank you so much for praying with us. God does indeed hear our prayers. He is concerned about the longings our heart. He does bring healing even in the valley of the shadow of death. Praise be to Jesus!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Our Growing Family

Some of our pastor friends in Cuba – starting from the bottom Justo, Luis & May and Oniel

I’m on my way to Havana as I write this. Once I’m in Cuba I will have very limited if any access to the internet. I don’t usually like to write my posts on the phone while I’m traveling, but I believe that I need a lot of prayer covering. I will be in Havana from today until Friday the 8th. Then I will be going to some smaller communities to visit and encourage some friends who are pastors.

These friends have become like family to Dawn and me. Since they are isolated in many ways, because of the lack of internet access and because of some of what they’ve had to live through they need encouragement. We all need someone to help us along the way, but it’s even more pronounced on this Island.

Our Role as Spiritual Parents

Pastor Mario and Yany with their daughter, Lorena

Dawn and I have grown to love these dear friends. A number of them now call us dad and mom. This is something that’s more common in Latin cultures. It’s also a growing part of or ministry especially since Hannah moved to heaven. It’s like the Lord has called us to be spiritual parents to a number of people. We enjoy encouraging and loving these friends. It is a true gift from the Lord! Jesus has given us friends to love on in Mexico who see us as spiritual parents.

Join us in Prayer!

Dawn and I would also appreciate your prayers for Dawn and her mom as they had to stay behind. We know that we are in a new season as Dawn’s mom, Alice is not able to live by herself. It’s a privilege to have her in our home and care for her. At least for the time being Dawn is not able to travel as much with me. We trust in the Lord’s guidance and leading during this season.

Lately Dawn and I have been separated some. This will change after I get back from this trip, but it is something we are seeking to manage the best we can now.

I’m not expecting that I will be able to write and post once I’m in Cuba. So it will most likely be a week or more before I post again.

I believe that the Lord is going to do something very special during my time there. I look forward to writing about God’s great and mighty work once I return. Thank you so much for standing with us and praying for us! We praise Jesus for his love and his desire to bring change and transformation to the nations!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

The Journey Continues!
Dave in Quito - The Middle of the World
Dave in Quito – The Middle of the World

The above statement has been our prayer, especially since our daughter Hannah moved to heaven. God is graciously answering our prayer! I’m heading out today (Thursday) for Colorado then to Cuba, so I wanted to get something out before I took off. This year has started with a bang, as I’ve already gone on ministry trips to Mexico City and Quito, Ecuador. Not much time to rest, and we’ve had the added adventure of taking care of Dawn’s mom, Alice.

It’s a new season for us, and we are just taking one day at a time as we seek to keep our eyes on Jesus. I prefer having Dawn join me on our trips. She is a catalyst in many ways, as she meets so many people in the most unusual ways. You could say, this is a time of growth for both of us. The Lord is teaching us new things as he is so faithful to do.

We do enjoy having Dawn’s mom with us. They are both extroverted so they meet many people in their endeavors. Dawn and I both like to use of our home to minister to others, family and friends.

Giving Thanks for the Lord’s Good Gifts!
The Newlyweds – Jonathan and Hannah with David, Jr., Dawn and Dave

I feel excited about these trips. I’ll be in Colorado Springs for a missions conference, but there’s the added bonus of being able to see my boys and our growing family. This season has been wonderful! Jonathan just married, Hannah and David is engaged to Emily! Many fun celebrations after our time of mourning. It’s not like the mourning completely leaves, but it is so good to receive the Lord’s healing touch through the wonderful young women that Jesus has brought into our family.

Family in Cuba
Dave and Dawn with Pastor Mario and his wife, Yanny
Dave and Dawn with Pastor Mario and his wife, Yanny

After I’m in Colorado I leave for Cuba and I’ll be there for 11 days. Dawn and I have grown to love our friends in Cuba. Some of the pastors we minister to there call us dad and mom. That’s a huge encouragement to us, and it gives us much joy to stay in contact with them and to strengthen the pastors there. They are amazing people who have gone through so much. They are still cut off from much of the rest of the world. Internet access is expensive, so it makes it difficult to communicate.

Dave & Dawn with Pastor Luis and his wife, May
Dave & Dawn with Pastor Luis and his wife, May

We are thankful that over this last year the internet presence in Cuba is slowly growing, and it’s becoming easier to communicate with our friends. The government restrictions make it challenging to travel to Cuba, but the Lord has used some of these difficulties to make the people hungry for the gospel. The Cubans we have met are good natured and fun loving people. It seems like they’ve had to learn to laugh in spite of their circumstances.

Join Us in Prayer!

Dawn and I would appreciate your prayers as I’m traveling and Dawn is at home with her mom. I need prayer covering especially for my time in Cuba. That the Lord will protect me both physically and spiritually while I’m there. Also, that we will see a breakthrough, that the Lord will do a mighty work in our friends and with those they minister to. Thank you so much for joining us in prayer!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Thank Jesus for His Amazing Work!

Dave & Dawn with Pastor Luis and his wife, May

Dave & Dawn with Pastor Luis and his wife, May

In my last post I wrote about the amazing people the Lord connected us with in Cuba. How God went before us and truly prepared the way, and we were indeed surprised by our experience in Cuba.

Each time we’ve gone to Cuba God has knit our hearts to the people. This trip we especially enjoyed getting to know Pastor Luis and Maiyesmi (May) Jimenez. From the moment Dawn and I met them we fell in love with them. They shared their testimony with us on the first day, and we were all in tears as they shared. We weren’t the only one’s they had this effect on as the friends that went on the trip with also were deeply touched by them.

Luis & May’s Amazing Testimony!

Pastor Luis and May

Pastor Luis and May

I’ve met very few people with the commitment level and sacrifice that Luis and May have made in the ministry.

We were amazed as they shared about how they felt called to minister to a community 18 kilometers from where they lived. There was no church in the community they wanted to reach out to. It was not an easy place to get to. There wasn’t any public transportation to this small village, so they walked the more than 10 miles in the hot sun to get there. It took them four hours to walk that far. They didn’t have any sun block, so May got sun spots on her legs from being out in the sun so long.

They went into the community and started knocking on doors. Every time someone answered the door they said they were not interested in learning more about Jesus. They knocked on every door in the whole town, and they continued to get the same response. Finally they got to the last house. The woman who answered the door said she was not interested, because she had two daughters who were confined to a wheel chair. She was mad at God.

Yet the two daughters heard the conversation and they told Luis and May that they were interested in studying the Bible and learning about Christ. That’s how they began to reach that community.

Their Tremendous Sacrifice and Courage

Dawn and I were able to take Luis and May out for a treat. What a special time for all of us!

Dawn and I were able to take Luis and May out for a meal. What a special time for all of us!

As we talked more to Luis and May we learned that they live on about $20 a month. If they or their children need a pair of shoes, or some clothing then they have to eat less that month. They live on a lot of beans and rice. While May was pregnant with their first child for about two months they had almost no income for food, so friends brought her fruit and whatever they could afford to share with them. Their son, David was born small, because of the lack of nourishment.

Then Luis and May told us about all the warfare they face where they are working. They had to learn how to pray against the attacks. Part of their routine now includes regular fasting and prayer. They take prayer seriously, and they are experiencing results as the Lord works through them.

Dawn and I stayed a couple of days after the Discovery Center was done and Luis and May didn’t leave until late the day after the Center ended. This gave us a wonderful opportunity to minister to one another. They told us more of their story, more of what they’ve learned and all that the Lord was doing through them. Dawn and I were able to bless and encourage them as well. I feel like it was one of the most special times I’ve ever had in ministry.

I truly wish I could bottle those experiences so I had them more often. 

It is not easy to communicate with our friends in Cuba, because they don’t have easy or inexpensive internet service. Yet, we have been able to email one another, and encourage one another in that way.

Please join us in praying for Luis and May and all of our other friends in Cuba!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Wow, Lord!

Dave and Dawn in Cuba. Quite an adventure.

Dave and Dawn in Cuba. Quite an adventure.

All I can say about our trip to Mexico City and Cuba is Wow! Wow! Wow! Well, at least that’s how I feel.

I had some concerns as we prepared to go on this trip because in both places we were up against some significant challenges, but God came through in a big way. Thanks so much for praying. Dawn and I asked a number of friends and groups on Facebook to lift us up in prayer. It might have been the most prayer covering that we’ve ever had on a trip, and I think it was one of our most fruitful trips ever.

There’s so much to share. I’d like to focus first on our time in Cuba.

The Challenges of Cuba

Pastor Daniel Nuñez and JD Pearring leading us through one of the exercises for the church planting evaluation.

Pastor Daniel Nuñez and JD Pearring leading us through one of the exercises for the church planting evaluation.

It was my fourth trip to Cuba and Dawn and my second trip together. Cuba is a hard place to visit. There’s so much oppression, and many people struggle to just to survive. There are very few people in Cuba who eat meat every day. They have to live off of rice and yucca. Most Cubans live off of $25 a month.

One of the reasons this trip was even better than past trips to Cuba is that we were able to build off of the relationships that we made their last year. The last time Dawn and I were there together it was only a month and a half after Hannah moved to heaven, so we were in a much more vulnerable place.

Thankful for Our Cuban Friends

Dave and Dawn with Pastor Mario and his wife, Yanny

Dave and Dawn with Pastor Mario and his wife, Yanny

The Cubans are a warm and friendly people. Those that we met last year embraced us this year. We felt very loved. One of the younger church planting couples that the Lord gave us a special connection with when we first met them was there as well. Their names are Mario and Yanny. Yanny is close to Hannah’s age, so I remember when Dawn first met her she started crying because it reminded her of our daughter. Yanny and Mario reached out to us in love. It was so good to see them again and to be able to deepen our relationship.

So it was so good to see them again and to see all that the Lord was doing in and through them. Mario was able to buy a horse which they used to provide more income for themselves so they could build their church. I was excited to learn how his church was becoming a self-sustaining church as they looked for creative ways to fund their ministry.

Dawn with Pastor Oniel and his wife, Heidy and daughter, Rosa

Dawn with Pastor Oniel and his wife, Heidy, and daughter, Rosa

The couple that leads the group is very special also, Oniel and Heidy. Last year the Lord used Dawn’s prayers to bring healing to their daughter, Rosa.  What the Lord did in healing their daughter has helped Oniel and Heidy to grow in their faith, and it has encouraged a number of people. Oniel is on the short side, but he’s a very dynamic preacher and leader.

Pastor Justo Pila Reinoso sharing with the group

Pastor Justo Pila Reinoso sharing with the group

We also love Justo and Sara, who are amazing evangelists. They have a deep love for Jesus. Sara gets up at 3 AM every morning to prayer, and both of them share their faith with almost anything that moves. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a couple that has led more people to Christ than Justo and Sara. They have already planted a number of churches. I’m just in awe of their love for Jesus and their passion for the gospel.

Our Wonderful Team

Our team that came from the US and Mexico. Such a great group!

Our team that came from the US and Mexico. Such a great group!

Dawn and I went to Cuba with a team of five Mexican national partners and two Americans who we also partner with in ministry. It was such a blessing to serve together. One of the many things that struck while we were together was hearing our Yoli, who is from Mexico share with the group that when Americans come to Tijuana to visit most think that they are poor or that they have very little and live under difficult position. Then when we were in Cuba together our Mexican friends realized how little the Cubans have and how much they suffer. It was an eye-opening experience for all of us.

The Lord blessed us with six church planting couples that we were evaluating. They were also awesome, and I’d like to share about them in my next post.

Thanks so much for praying. We felt it, and we saw the Lord answer in major ways as we saw breakthroughs. Yay God! Yay Jesus! We pray for more!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Cuba Rocks My World

IMG_2962

Havana at night

The main reason Cuba rocks my world is because of the people. They are an amazing  and resilient people. All they’ve suffered through, which is heart breaking, yet God in His grace has used their pain to draw them to himself.

I find it hard to walk through the streets of Havana and see the long lines as the people wait to buy some very basic products for their needs. One particular instance comes to mind as I saw a young man wearing a baseball cap. The hat represented a Major League Baseball team. I wondered where he got the cap in a place where there seems to be so little. I was reminded of the stores in the USA that only sell hats for sports teams. There are wall to wall hats! The contrast of abundance to scarcity hit me.

Hunger & Hope

DSCN1265

Our Cuban friends, Yamil, Yuni, Melissa, Ariadna and Frank with Jim Moon and Dave

It saddens me to think of all that my Cuban friends have suffered through over years. One of them told me, “we all have the same, we share the same misery.” Yet, I see a people who the Lord has made hungry for something more than this life has to offer. That brings me some comfort, since Hannah died I too long for a hope that this world can never provide.

These are some of the reasons I love getting to know my new Cuban friends, and to be able to encourage them and to learn from them. They enrich my life, as I hope I’m able to strengthen their faith and life in Him.

While I was in Cuba I helped train our friends from Los Pinos Nuevos in their coaching skills. I was with many of them last year for coaching training as well, and it was so good to see how much they’ve grown and improved.

God’s Rich Blessings!

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Growing together in coaching

I feel in many ways that even though I go to help them on their journey as they aspire to multiply coaches in Cuba, and ultimately to see the church expand, but I’m the one who comes away having been blessed.

Dawn and I prayed even before our dear, daughter passed away for an increased reach in our ministry. We long to see the expansion of the gospel as we serve the Lord. Since Hannah moved to heaven that desire has only grown.

I give thanks for our amazing Cuban friends. They truly rock my world, and the Lord uses them to strengthen my faith. I can’t say I understand it all, but I want more of whatever the Lord has to give. I want more of Him, and I pray that this desire will overflow and spill over so that many are blessed and the kingdom expands for God’s glory. Give us more Lord! Hallelujah!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org