Posts Tagged ‘encouraging pastors’

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 

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

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

God is on the Move in Amazing Ways

I’m writing this as I fly from Mexico to Colombia, and by the time you read this I will be in Colombia. We are excited about all the Lord is doing in our lives right now!

There are periods when the ministry is slow and not as invigorating as we’d like. Yet during those times we have to stay at it, and continue to plant and water that we might see growth and fruit down the road. Dawn and I feel like we are in a period of growth now. We are reaping some of the fruit from the seed we have sown. There is so much going on in our family and in the ministry. God is on the move in some amazing ways.

Pastor Petri leading Renuevo Church

Over the last week I connected with four of the church planters we are working with, who are ministering all along the border. Sunday I was at the church plant in Ensenada, Renuevo. We celebrated the Lord’s supper together. It’s encouraging to see that church grow and mature.

I also connected with two of our new church planters, which is energizing for me. To see something new started, even though it requires more time and work it is thrilling.

Pastor Federico and Blanca getting set up for Mexicali

(From left to right) – Junior, Dámaris, Federico, Blanca, David & Daniel

On Monday I was with Federico, Blanca and their four children helping them to find furniture to get set up in Mexicali.

After we spent the day picking up some of the furniture they needed we were able to stop and have some tacos. I enjoyed spending time with the family and helping them get set up. Their 14 year old son, Daniel, said that the Lord was going to bless my life threefold. He said this as he observed me help his family and as I was able to be a blessing to them. Those words really touched me at a deep level, and I almost started to cry. I held it in, which maybe isn’t good. I guess it’s part of my struggle as a guy to show much emotion at times like that.

I genuinely enjoyed working with Federico and Blanca, and helping them to move into a nice place so that they can reach out in that community. Yet, the words of their son touched me in deep way. It was a moment that money can’t buy. They were simple words, but the Lord used the words of a young boy to minister to my spirit.

There are a lot of challenges to starting a church, and there is some stress that goes with it. I’m still raising money for this project, which in my weaker moments causes me to worry. Yet in the midst of this I’m excited and looking forward to what God is going to do. I think Federico, Blanca and their children are growing in their faith as they trust the Lord for his provision and to raise up this church.

Pastor Davis & Luz – A new church in Tijuana

Pastor Davis & some of the people we are working with in Tijuana. From left to right, Davis, David, Blanca, Stan, Aaron & Liliana

It also gave me great joy to meet with and encourage Pastor Davis and Luz as they are working towards planting a church in Tijuana. As I encourage and minister to them it strengthens me as well. God is so good to bless us when we serve him. I’m not saying that we don’t experience hardship on the journey, but rather that He is a good good Father and he desires to give good things to his children.

Jesus taught about this and he used the Father’s goodness as an example when he taught us to pray in the gospels.

Davis and Luz have been beaten down a lot in the ministry. The same could be said for Federico and Blanca. Unfortunately, many of the challenges that they’ve encountered have come from inside the church not from outside. It’s one of the reasons why we need new gospel centered, Spirit filled churches. We need to live out the love of Christ as we live and serve. This type of church is authentic Christianity and it is attractive to the watching world.

Join us in Prayer

Join us in prayer for these special friends who are chosen by God to serve him and to see the kingdom of God extended on the earth. We continue to pray that it will be on earth as it is in heaven. We know there is love and not hatred, jealousy and unkindness in heaven, so we pray that we will live out and experience this type of love on the earth.

There are two big requests that we have as we ask for prayer. One is that these couples get set up for healthy living situations, so that they can minister and reach out in the community. The other is for the provision that we still need in order to fund these church plants. Thanks so much for standing with us in prayer.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org