Posts Tagged ‘Cuba’

Excited to See the Church Grow

 

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Dawn with Pastor Ivan and his wife Rocio

Today Dawn and I are off to Mexico City. Then on Saturday, I will be going to Cuba to minister with our friends from Los Pinos. Before I talk about these trips I’d like to highlight one of the ministries that we work closely with on the border.

 

Just over three years ago, we helped Ministerios Transformación plant a church in Ribera del Bosque, which is a community in Tijuana. Our good friends, Pastor Ivan Casados and his wife, Rocio lead this church. It’s been exciting for us to watch them grow as leaders as the church has grown.

Choice Servants – Ivan and Rocio Casados

 

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Pastor Ivan Casados & Rocio in front of their church

Ivan and Rocio love our family. They were deeply moved when they heard that Hannah had passed away. When I told Ivan he started to cry, which meant a great deal to me, because I knew he loved Hannah and our family.

 

We give thanks to the Lord for such special and dear friends. I remember not long after we helped build Ivan’s church, that he had the vision to see the church grow. He wanted to build a second floor so that they could use the bottom floor for fellowship and outreach to children. Dawn and I visited the church last week, and it filled our hearts to see the realization of Ivan’s dream. They just recently added a second floor.

They are still working towards putting in a kitchen and developing a breakfast program for children in the neighborhood. One of the many things I love about Ivan and Rocio and all my friends at Ministerios Transformación is that they have a deep desire to make a difference in the community. They are always looking for ways to minister to those in need. The church is truly a light in a dark place. Hallelujah!

As Dawn and I visited with Ivan and Rocio they shared about a friend in the church named Aaron. Aaron has a serious injury to his foot, which has partially crippled him. Hannah and Dawn prayed for Aaron over the past two years. They prayed for healing.

Aaron gave a testimony in church recently about how the Lord was healing his foot, and how it felt so much better. He remembered the prayers of Hannah and Dawn and he gave thanks for them. That news filled our hearts. Thank you, Jesus!

Pray With Us!

Continue to pray for Ivan and Rocio as they seek to make a difference in Ribera del Bosque.

 

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Dave with some of our friends that we work with in Cuba: Frank, Ariadna & Melissa

Dawn and I would like to ask prayer for our time in Mexico City, and my time in Cuba. We will be visiting our campus ministers right after we land today. Then I will leave for Cuba on the 17th, and Dawn will stay in Mexico City during that time. I will be working with the leaders in Habana. Many of them are growing as coaches, and I’m ministering with a team to train them further in their coaching skills. It’s always a rich blessing for me to be with our brothers and sisters in Cuba. They have such a warm and loving spirit.

 

I do give thanks to the Lord for all the good things that He has done!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Coaches Needed

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Dave leading a session on coaching with Alcides De La Cruz

Why do we leave leaders to struggle on their own? Why do some leaders isolate themselves from others? The casualties of those leaving the ministry every month are astonishingly high. The difference in effectiveness between ministers who have the support of a coach, and those that don’t is remarkable.

These are some of the reasons we believe that it is imperative that leaders in the church should have a coach. When I first arrived in Tijuana, I was talking to one of my missionary colleagues who’s also been a coach to me, Gary Watanabe. I explained to Gary how the church was growing so fast here that I couldn’t keep up, and that I couldn’t coach all the leaders myself. Gary encouraged me to explore ways to multiply myself, to multiply coaches.

Through Gary I met Tom Wood and Jim Moon with Church Multiplication Ministries (CMM). Tom Wood has developed some outstanding training for coaching church planters and leaders. The Gospel is at the center of their training, which is refreshing!

Multiplying Coaches in Mexico & Cuba
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Dave with Jim Moon and Josue Mayo

I began working with Tom, Jim and Gary on bringing the Gospel Coach training to Mexico. In December of 2015 we held our first training event in Tijuana and Monterrey, Mexico.

Jim Moon invited me and some of us who minister in Mexico to go to Cuba to see how they were applying the Gospel Coach in Cuba. That was a life transforming trip for me as the Lord introduced me to the wonderful people of Cuba, and showed me how he was at work there. The church is growing in amazing ways in Cuba.

This relationship with Jim Moon who heads up the Spanish ministry for CMM has continued to grow and flourish. Last weekend I worked with Jim and MTW missionary Jamie Burkemper to lead training in the Gospel Coach in Juarez, Mexico. Forty leaders came to the training.

We find as people are exposed to the concepts of coaching the Lord grabs them, and they desire to grow in their capacity to coach others. They also realize how important it is for them to have a coach.

God is Using Our Story
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One of the small group exercises during the coaching training

One of the emphasis that I love about the Gospel Coach training is the focus on the gospel. I led a module on the history of the gospel, and during my session I shared about Hannah’s passing. The Lord used the story of our family and the hope we have in the gospel to encourage our friends. One of my prayers has been that the Lord will use Hannah’s death to bring glory to himself. I know her death isn’t in vain, but as a father I long for evidence of God’s greater purpose. Jesus is already showing up, and showing himself strong as I share how he has sustained us during this time of sorrow and sadness. Thank you Jesus!

We see the light of Christ shining brightly as Dawn and I minister together. Dawn loves to pray for and encourage others. She has a knack for coming alongside those we meet, and showing them the love of Christ. We are much more effective as we team up and serve together. Jesus is giving us moments of light as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Thank you for praying for us as we seek to follow Jesus. We are serving as we grieve. God’s grace is sufficient. Thanks be to the Lord!

We pray that coaches will continue to multiply in Mexico and Cuba and wherever else the Lord opens up the doors for us to minister!

In His Holy Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

God’s gift of healing during this time of Christmas
David & Dawn with Frank Batista

David & Dawn with Frank Batista

Dawn is gifted in sensing when people are in pain physically or emotionally. She loves to pray for people and minister to them when they are struggling, and God gave us many opportunities to pray for Christians and those that are seeking while we were in Cuba. The Lord heard our prayer, and brought healing to the people. Hannah and Dawn used to minister together to our friends as they both loved encouraging people and to see God touch people.

God’s healing Touch for Rosa
David & Dawn with Oniel, Heidy and Rosa

David & Dawn with Oniel, Heidy and Rosa

The first night we were in Havana, Cuba Dawn noticed that Rosa the 12 year old daughter of Pastor Oniel Rojas and his wife, Heidy, wasn’t feeling well. Dawn asked Rosa and her family what was wrong, and she said her arm was bothering her. Dawn felt the need to pray for Rosa’s shoulder. She couldn’t move her arm and she has experienced a lot of pain over the last two months.

Dawn and Yoli Nuñez, who is our friend and partner in ministry from Tijuana, spent some time in prayer for Rosa with her parents, Oniel & Heidy. Then Dawn called us over to pray with them and we prayed some more. As we prayed Rosa’s pain went down from a 10 to a 6. The next day when we saw her parents they were very excited as they said that Rosa was able sleep through the night for the first time in a long time. She was also able to move her arm and put her cloths on by herself for the first time in a while. Rosa said the pain was gone.

Then Rosa went to the doctor with her mom in the morning. The doctor was surprised that Rosa was no longer experiencing any pain. He took X-Rays and they came out normal. Before she had a growth in her shoulder, but now it was gone. He compared the X-Rays to how she was before and although he was surprised he said they looked completely normal and declared her healed and healthy. Thank you Jesus for hearing our prayer!

Oniel and Heidy were so excited that God brought healing to their daughter.

God Touches Lelois in a Special Way
Dawn praying for Lelois

Dawn praying for Lelois

Then a couple of days later we were with our friend Frank Batista (photo above), who I met last April when I was in Cuba. Frank showed Dawn and me around and we enjoyed spending time with him and his family. On Saturday we went to buy some presents at the market. When we went to buy t-shirts Dawn noticed the woman selling the t-shirts was in pain, Lelois.

Dawn asked her how she was feeling, and she admitted that her stomach was bothering her. Dawn wanted to see if she could pray for her. Lelois said yes, so she began to pray for her. When she prayed Lelois felt the power of God in her body. Both Dawn and Lelois sensed the Spirit rushing through them and touching them. After Dawn prayed for her she asked Lelois how she felt and she said her pain went down from a 10 to a 3. Also because she felt God’s tender touch tears came to her eyes. With tears streaming down her face she felt God’s love.

Then Frank and I prayed for her and she no longer had any pain. It was very encouraging to see the way the Lord used my wife’s boldness. Lelois said she’d like a Bible, and she was interested in learning more about the gospel.

We give thanks to the Lord for his mighty work in Cuba!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org


The Two Sides of Cuba
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Cuban Church planters with Discovery Center Staff

I continue to both amazed and saddened when I spend time in Cuba. I’m amazed by all that the Lord is doing in this country that has experienced so much oppression. They’ve suffered greatly, despite what some in the media write. It saddens me to hear the stories and learn of all they’ve had to live through. As one of my friends said, “there is equality, we all have the same, we all share the same misery.” Yet, despite this they are a wonderful and resilient people. The Cubans we met are good-natured, and enjoyable to be around.

The other thing that I observed is that God has used all their suffering, and all the things they lack to make it crystal clear to the people that they need something greater than themselves. They need a deliverer. They need a savior, and many are turning their lives over to Christ.

Quality and Choice Servants of the Lord
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Dawn with Oniel Rojas and his wife, Heidy and their daughter, Rosa. Oniel is the leader of the movement we worked with in Cuba

The church planters that Dawn and I met during the Discovery Center are such quality people. Their love for Jesus is so evident. Some of them are amazing evangelists, and the Lord is already using them to reach many for Christ. Even though we went to minister to them and encourage them their testimony lifted us up. Dawn and I felt humbled as we heard their stories, and of their love for the Lord.

The church is not allowed to build church buildings in Cuba, but they can meet to study the Bible and to worship in their homes. The house church is exploding in Cuba. Missiologist say that Cuba is the only country in the Western Hemisphere where a true church planing movement is occurring. Yet, there is a need for training, coaching and encouragement. We give thanks to the Lord that we can play a role in the work there.

Second Trip to Cuba

I first went to Cuba in April, and I fell in love with the people. At the time, I thought I’d love to be able to bring my wife and my daughter to Cuba with me. Unfortunately, I will never have the opportunity to bring Hannah, but the Lord did open the door for me to bring Dawn, and we had a wonderful experience together.

God’s Strength in Our Weakness
The church planting candidates working on a project during the Discovery Center

The church planting candidates working on a project during the Discovery Center

Thank you Jesus for giving us the strength to be able to go and minister in the midst of our sorrow! One of our friends and colleagues in the gospel ministry, Ivan Villalta said it was a miracle that Dawn and I were in Cuba helping with the Discovery Center, since we just lost Hannah only a few weeks ago. That encouraged me that he said that. Yes, it’s not easy to minister in the midst of our pain, but we are finding God’s grace is strengthening us and carrying us through it all.

When I told Mario & Yany one of the church planting couples about Hannah passing away, they said it was clear that the Spirit was giving us strength to be able to continue to minister during this difficult season of life.

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Dawn and I appreciate your love and prayers for us. God is using you to lift us up!

Just as we felt we were able to bring the love and blessing of our Lord to our friends in Cuba, they definitely blessed us and helped lift our spirits. Hallelujah!

The Lord did so many amazing things in Cuba that I have more to write, but I will save it for another post. Please continue to pray for us this week as we are back at home, and celebrating our first Christmas without Hannah.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Learning From a Pioneer, Dr. Allen Thompson
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Dr. Allen Thompson, The Master at Work

I was blown away by all that the Lord is doing in Cuba. Fortunately, I ended up arriving in Havana one day before we began the training. This gave me some time to interact with Dr. Allen Thompson, a long time missionary to Cuba. Allen’s parents first came to Cuba as missionaries, and they helped start the Los Pinos Nuevos Seminary.

Dr. Thompson served in Cuba as a missionary, but he was forced to leave when the revolution began in 1960. Allen is now in his 80’s, but you can’t tell when you are around him. He has so much life and energy, and he is still going strong. I pray that the Lord will still use me in a similar way when I am in my 80’s.

Allen and his family have such deep relationships in Cuba, and they’ve stayed connected to their many friends over the years. This foundation laid years ago led one of the leaders to call Dr. Thompson five years ago. Pastor Pachy, who is now leads Los Pinos Nuevos called Allen and asked for help. Allen had been working with Redeemer New York’s City to City worldwide outreach, but when Pachy called he came to help.

The Explosive Growth of the Church
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Interaction during the training

The people had a foundation from the seminary, but many of them were legalistic, so Allen and the people he brought in to help began to teach and preach the gospel. This brought about transformation and a hunger for more.

The fact that the people are very isolated, and even bored because of the lack of entertainment gave the people a greater hunger to study and to learn. That’s how the church began to grow.

Pastor Pachy says he doesn’t know exactly how many churches they have, but he estimates that they have about 40,000! I mean that is amazing and explosive growth. It sounds similar to the type of things that happened through the house church in China.

The Fuel of Prayer & Training
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The Students enjoying themselves while learning.

As I interacted more with Dr. Thompson I realized that prayer played a big part in the movement. They believed in it. They taught it, and they practiced it.

Another important component was gospel centered training. Allen said they use non formal training, which means that they don’t give certificates of completion, and the lessons are adjusted to the culture and the level of the students education.

One of the principle ways that they measure success is that they ask those taking the training if they are sharing the material with others. Most of them are. They encourage them to share the material as soon as they’ve taken the class.

That’s how multiplication happens!

While I was there I began to dream. I began to wonder how could we use this in Mexico. We don’t have all the same circumstances in Mexico, but surely parts of this model would work. I think it’s a brilliant idea to encourage the students to share what they’ve learned with others as soon as they can.

Pray with us that the Lord will guide and lead us and show us the way!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Not What I Expected

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to Cuba. I had heard about the poverty, and the oppression, but I didn’t know what I would encounter. It broke my heart to see how much the people have suffered, as I listened to their stories. Despite the pain many have found Christ, which has given them hope to overcome their circumstances.

Cuba is a tale of two cities. There is plenty of natural beauty in the country. Yet there is also much darkness and pain. In Havana many homes and surrounding buildings were built more than 100 years ago. What wonderful architecture! It reminded me of some of the cities I’ve been to in Europe. Sadly, many of the buildings are crumbling. They are not able to maintain them. Most of them are in need of a paint job and more.

The Amazing Growth of the Church
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Allen Thompson & Jim Moon Jr. who led the training team

There’s much more to the story as the church is busting at the seams. Wow! So exciting to see God at work. The government doesn’t allow them to build new churches, so they have to meet in houses.

The people do not have many options for entertainment. Internet access is very limited. The TV is controlled by the government, so not much in the way of interesting shows to watch. They also don’t have many movie theaters.

This leaves the people with a lot of time. They are relational. The leaders of the churches build relationships with people in their neighborhood. Then they invite them to study the Bible. There is much spiritual hunger, so the people come. They encounter Christ in the gospel, and the church grows.

One of the missionaries, Allen Thompson, that I spoke to said that it was like the people were living in a prison. Then he added that he hoped that the country doesn’t open up too soon, because the Lord is using all the oppression to make the people hungry, and the church is multiplying like never before!

Pastor Pachy told us he thought there were 40,000 churches or more in their network. The network he leads, Los Pinos Nuevos is just one of the networks in the country.

Such Beautiful People
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Dave with some of my new Cubans friends Frank, Ariadna & Melissa

I loved the opportunity to connect with the Cubans that we worked with over the week. That was definitely a highlight for me. They are beautiful people. The light of Christ shines through them. They’ve been through so much! Yet they aren’t depressed and down. They are a people of hope, and it is clear that the gospel has gripped their hearts.

As we got to know each other during the week they began to joke with me. We had fun interacting with one another. They also shared their stories, and their perspective on Cuba. Truly amazing!

God gripped my heart, and gave me a burden for my new friends and their country. I hope to be able to build on these relationships, and encourage them in their faith.

I went to Cuba to help with the mentor/coach training, but I came away with much more than I gave. I learned many valuable things while I was in Cuba that I hope to be able to implement in our ministry in Mexico. I will post more about my trip and the  insights later this week.

Thanks for Standing With Us In Prayer

Thanks so much for praying for my family and me. Dawn, Hannah and David Jr. did well while I was gone. Jonathan is in Colorado, and we see the Lord’s hand of favor and protection over him as well. God answered in many ways as he cared for my family, and gave me such a wonderful experience. We are more than conquerors in Christ!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

 

Dave preaching at Grace Renewal Church

The Need for Workers to Reap the Harvest

I’m leaving for Cuba today!

It’s an exciting time. I’m still trying to get ready early in the morning, but I felt like it was important to send out a quick note to all our praying friends.

I will arrive in Havana tonight around 10 PM, and I will be there until Friday, April 29th. It will be an opportunity to get to know Cuba as it’s my first trip there.

Pray for my time there as the team I’ll be with works with an encourages pastors and church leaders there.

Excited about all that God is doing in Hannah's life!

Pray for Dawn and Hannah. We are excited about all that God is doing in Hannah’s life!

Pray for my family while I’m gone, especially for Dawn and Hannah. I will have limited access to internet while I’m there, so I don’t expect to be able to post anything until I get back from the trip.

Thanks for standing with us in prayer faithful friends!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org