Posts Tagged ‘family’

Laying Mom to Rest

Mom’s graveside ceremony

On May 1st, two weeks ago today we laid my mom to rest. It wasn’t an easy day, but I did feel the peace of the Lord through the prayers of so many who were praying for us. I know that there were friends from Mexico, Cuba and throughout the USA praying for my family and me.

We definitely needed the prayer. Apart from the stress and sadness of the moment when we arrived at the cemetery they told us that we only had 15 minutes to perform the ceremony. By God’s grace they let us start early and end a little late. Yet, both my brother, John and I had to cut things we had planned on saying out of what we had prepared.

Virginia A Diaso – 11/5/1935 – 3/19/2020

When the service started I felt emotional. It was hard to get through the initial words that I wanted to share. I could feel the emotion welling up inside me as I moved along. The Lord gave me strength to get through that initial part, and I began to feel more peace.

The highlight of the service was when we all prayed together as a family to affirm and confirm our faith. It was especially gratifying to see my dad join us in prayer. I believe the Lord was at work, and that He was answering mom’s prayers. Prayers that she had lifted up for many years for our family.

It was not easy saying goodbye to my mom and laying her remains to rest. Yet, I know that the Lord was with me and he sustained me like he always has through all the difficult trials my family and I have gone through.

Strength of the Eagle

I’m so thankful for all the people that supported my family and me and prayed for us. One of my friends shared an amazing experience that he had as he prayed for me while he waited to get into Costco. I’d like to share it with you here.

My reminder to pray for you sounded about 15 mins before you were to start. I was waiting in queue on the sidewalk outside Costco, so I looked to the sky and began to pray. As soon as I looked up, a bald eagle came into sight riding high on the west to east wind. It soared an arrow-straight line overhead…never flapping a single time while it was in my sight. So, I felt the Lord calling me to pray from Isaiah 40 for you… to rise up with wings like eagles, to run and not grow weary. It was also very special that the Lord used it to remind me of your mom’s spirit being high above all the cares of this world…and that one day ours would too. What a privilege it was to be able to pray for you, and experience such a tangible benefit from it myself.

When I read this message from my friend, a fellow missionary it lifted my spirit. When I shared it with Dawn she said it gave her goosebumps.

The Lord is so good to care for me as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. He tells me that He will never leave me or forsake me. He gives me strength!

“…they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭ESV
Mom’s garden

My thanks to you for standing with us and praying for us. God hears our prayers and He moves through our prayers.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

A Tough Transition Back Home
Virginia Diaso – November 5, 1935 – March 19, 2020

Life has been both difficult and crazy since I returned from Cuba. I saw a lot of fruit while I was with my friends on the big island, but I wasn’t prepared for what was waiting on the other side of my trip. I returned close to midnight on Wednesday, March 18. Communication with my family isn’t easy when I’m in Cuba, because there is very little access to the internet. Finally, on my way home, I was able to talk to my brother, John and I found out that my mom didn’t have much time to live.

I hoped and prayed that I could get to Fresno before my mom moved to heaven, but I wasn’t able to make it in time. Thankfully John called me in the morning on Thursday and suggested that I talk while he put the phone up to mom’s ear and I was able to tell her of my love and say good-bye. I’m grateful for that opportunity. Later in the day I called back and talked to my other brother, Greg and right when I got off the phone with him my mom moved to heaven.

Then as everyone knows we’ve had this pandemic Coronavirus going on which has made it challenging to do basic things that we’ve all come to expect. We still haven’t been able to have a graveside service for my mom, because of the all of the restrictions. It’s an odd time, and we definitely appreciate your prayers during this season of our lives.

I wrote a tribute to mom in the last post and you can read it here…

An Amazing Time with Mi familia Cubana
One of the groups of church planters that we trained in Camaguey

My time in Cuba was amazing, and I find that often when the Lord is working through us in a dark place that there is opposition. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this anymore.

When I was in Cuba last September I was able to train a number of church planters, and I learned that it would be better to train them in cities closer to where they live. This time we held four training events in four different cities and we had 102 church planters attend. One of the most exciting things is that the Cuban leaders did most of the training. This alone is reason to celebrate, because now they can continue with the work even when I’m not there. Another important consideration is that I’m limited in what I’m allowed to do and I desire to be wise and careful while I’m in the country.

These pastors, many of them lay leaders are such quality people that love the Lord. Most of them have such a deep commitment to the Lord that it motivates me to have more faith and devotion to follow Jesus.

The Church is Growing!
One of the group activities during the training

In one of the cities where I was we worked with a group that has started 16 churches in the last year, and their goal is start 30 by the end of 2020. That’s one of the reasons I come back home so stoked! King Jesus is doing a great work on the big Island despite all the obstacles.

Pray for Us & Our Cuban Familia
Our Cuban familia

I’d appreciate your prayers for our familia. Even when things are normal in Cuba life is difficult. Long lines for basic needs are common. What the US is going through now still doesn’t match what the average Cuban experiences on daily basis. Yet, God in his marvelous mercy is at work.

The churches can only meet in very small groups now with the Coronavirus and they don’t have the same access to the internet that we have. Pray for the Lord’s care and provision for them during this time. Many of our friends have asked us to pray them as they’ve shared their growing struggles, and how the quarantine has made things worse.

Look to the Father in this Season
Dave & Dawn

I feel like the Lord wants to wake the church up during this season. My prayer is that we will use this time to strengthen our families and to spend more time with the Lord. Grow in your intimacy with the Father. He is calling all of us to the secret place!

He will care for you as he promises to do.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.'”

Psalm 91:1,2 ESV

Thanks so much for joining Dawn and me on this journey of faith. I would like to write more about my time in Cuba in my next post. There are many magnificent stories to tell.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

The Shock of Death: Kobe Bryant

Last Sunday when I saw the pop up notification on my phone that Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash I was in disbelief. I was just getting out of church when I saw it, and I felt shock and disbelief. The feeling took me back to the day my beautiful daughter, Hannah moved to heaven.

A friend of mine posted this on Instagram last week. I pray that Kobe, his daughter Gigi and all those who lost their lives in the tragic crash truly knew Jesus

It was so hard to fathom that it could be true. I hoped it was just a bad dream that I would wake up from. I was numb. Unfortunately, it really did happen.

Like many I admired Kobe Bryant as a fan, although I never met him. I believe that sometimes these tragic events take you back to experiences that you may have had. I feel for Kobe’s family and all of those that lost loved ones during the crash.

On Monday the day after Kobe’s crash I watched Demi Lovato’s performance “Anyone” that she gave at the Grammys. She wrote the ballad two years ago just four days before she overdosed trying to end her life.

Demi Lovato’s tearful performance of “Anyone” at the GRAMMYs

As I listened to her sing through her tears it also took me back to experiences we had with Hannah. Our daughter, also struggled with depression and at times she lost the will to live.

Reflections on Life and the Difficulties We Face
Our beautiful daughter, Hannah

The interesting thing to me is as we watch these young stars, who have tremendous talent, fame and fortune they live under intense pressure. The internet and social media have caused them to live life in a fish bowl. These are pressures that people in the past didn’t have to face. I feel for them, and pray that they will figure things out in God’s grace.

Solomon’s Words Still Fitting

Solomon talks about the vanity of life without God. Some of these young people do have faith in Christ, but like many of us they are still trying to work it out. It’s especially difficult for them under so much public scrutiny.

We see even among Christians and in the church so many unkind tweets and posts where believers are attacking one another. It’s embarrassing, especially when the Bible says the world will know us by our love for one another.

After Solomon lived his life and acquired all his wisdom he said…

“I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:16-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬ (Emphasis mine)

Solomon admits that all he had accomplished and acquired seemed like striving after the wind. Have you ever tried to harness the wind? No small task! The Bible says there had never been anyone so blessed as Solomon in material wealth and in wisdom. Yet, with all of his wisdom it increased his sorrow.

I don’t think life is as hopeless as it may seem at times. Many of us including myself have experienced times of exasperation, times of where we hit lows. Jesus said in John 10:10 he came that we might have life and have it abundantly. So why is it that so many, even believers don’t seem to be experiencing this?

One of the reasons is we are listening to wrong voices about what it means to be successful and to live a fulfilled life.

King Solomon also spoke of all these voices crying out, seeking our attention.

“Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?”

Proverbs‬ ‭1:20-22‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I want to encourage you to be careful to which voices you are listening to, and to who you are looking to, in order to verify your significance. Lately the Lord keeps reminding me not to despise small beginnings.

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range through the whole earth.””

Zechariah‬ ‭4:6, 10‬ ‭ESV‬‬ (Emphasis mine)

Recently I learned that 1 in 3 young people today have been diagnosed as clinically depressed. Which is a sobering stat that is hard to fathom. Too many of us are looking to the wrong things to bring us satisfaction in life and in this ever connected world we seem to be more alone than ever. That’s what Demi Lovato’s song is all about. “Nobody is listening to me… Is there anyone, Lord is there anyone, I need someone.”

There is Hope in our Good Father

My encouragement is that each of us look daily to the Lord for His strength to make it through the day. He loves his children. He is a good God, and desires the best for us. One of my favorite passages in the Bible reminds us of God’s goodness and His desire to care for His children.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬ (Emphasis mine)

What a wonderful promise. There is hope for each of us as we seek the Lord. Look to your Father who is in heaven my friends. He loves you and He has a good plan for your life. You can trust Him! His promises are sure and true.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Give Thanks for God’s Good Work!
Dave with church planters & leaders in Cuba

As Dawn and I look back on 2019 we realize that we have much to be thankful for! Dawn and I experienced fruit and growth as we ministered on the Border, the Baja and Beyond.

2019 has been one of our best years in ministry. We are planting life giving churches in a number of cities in Baja California. We are starting churches in La Paz, Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada and Mexicali with the hope of expanding beyond the Baja in Mexico. There are also numerous church plants in Cuba that are growing.

The Lord is Faithful to Grow His Church
Our church plant in Ensenada led by Pastor Petri and his wife Yudy

Dawn and I continue to pray that the Lord will enlarge our tent and expand our borders. Isaiah 54 has become a key passage for us as we dream and ask the Lord for more.

“”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 ‭54:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Thankful for Our Growing Family
Pastor Federico & Blanca Muñoz and their children are one of the many families that we work with that have become part of our family.

This passage also speaks of promises to our offspring. The church planters we work with have become like family to us. We have come to love them, and we see God expanding the kingdom through the ministry of the churches they are starting. Dawn and I feel very blessed through these relationships and all that Jesus is doing through them!

We Rejoice! Hallelujah!

Yany, Rachel & Jorge leading worship in Cabaiguán, Cuba

Hallelujah. We rejoice for God’s good work and all that he is doing!

Let’s Finish 2019 Strong!

Dawn and I would like to ask you to consider making a year-end gift so that this more lives will be transformed by the gospel. We look forward to 2020, and believe that it will be an even greater and more fruitful year!

Donate now by clicking on this link:

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray for My Parents

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

God’s faithfulness through it all

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

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

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

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

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

Ministry & Family in Fresno & Bakersfield

My dad, Ron Diaso and I

I never grow tired of seeing the gospel bring about transformation, a changed life!

I’m writing this post just as I’m getting ready to leave Fresno and head back home to the Border lands.

This last weekend I had the opportunity to visit my parents in Fresno. While I was in Fresno my dad had a hernia surgery. Thanks for praying for him. It’s a relief to get him through that, and on the road to recovery. I also was able to visit two churches. One in Fresno and one in Bakersfield to promote our missions work and especially the work of church planting on the Border and Beyond.

I’m grateful for a fruitful trip. We wouldn’t see new churches planted without faithful partners who pray for us and give to the ministry.

God’s Grace Shines in Ensenada

The team from Skyview and from Renuevo for our summer VBS in Ensenada

Today I’d like to highlight an experience that I had while the group from Skyview Church in Colorado was with us while we were ministering in Ensenada. Skyview is a valuable partner that has grown close to Renuevo church and their leadership as they’ve come to aid in leading VBS over the last six years.

A couple of weeks ago on Monday while Skyview was in Ensenada, we went to the local hospital in the afternoon to do some outreach and community service. We handed out over 100 sandwiches and burritos and handed out toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap. This hospital services low-income families, so the people were grateful to receive this aid with along with a loving smile.

Jorge’s Open Heart

Jorge my new friend who found forgiveness in Christ

While our group ministered to the people in this way I took the opportunity to ask the people if they’d like prayer. The Lord gave me the opportunity to pray with a few of the people who came to visit and support their family in the hospital. One of the guys that I prayed for in particular stood out. His name is Jorge and I mentioned him in my last post.

There were a number of people waiting outside the hospital and at first I wasn’t sure if I should share with Jorge. I prayed and asked the Lord as I looked for someone to talk to. I approached Jorge, and he told me his sister was in the hospital and she had a problem with her kidneys. I told him that I’d like to pray for him and his sister, and as we talked he told me that he’s struggled with drugs and alcohol for a long time. He admitted that he was separated from his wife, and that he felt hurt and bitter in regards to his ex wife. He felt like his relationship with his wife, and his frustration with her pushed him towards the drugs and alcohol.

Jorge finds Forgiveness and New Life

I took the opportunity to let him know about the importance of forgiveness. I explained that when you don’t forgive and when you hold on to bitterness you are actually hurting yourself. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. I asked him if he was familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, and he said, “yes”. I told him in the Lord’s Prayer part of the prayer is, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” In a sense when you are unwilling to forgive and we pray this prayer we are asking the Lord to do the same to us.

The light bulb came on for Jorge. It made sense to him.

I said “Jorge, I believe that God loves you. I could have talked to any number of other people here today, but he sent me to talk to you.” Then we prayed and I a gave him the opportunity to confess Christ as his Lord and Savior as well as confess his sins and to forgive those that had offended him. After we prayed I sought to encourage him more and remind him of God’s great love.

Jorge started to cry. Here was this big, tough looking guy and God broke through. The Lord touched his heart and Jorge found love in Christ that day.

Paul reminds us, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans‬ ‭10:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬ (Emphasis mine)

There were a number of highlights to our week in Ensenada as there always are, but this was definitely at the top of the list. I never tire of seeing the gospel touch someone’s life and bring about change that has eternal implications. Wow! God is so good! Thank you Jesus for leading me to Jorge and giving me the opportunity to share the good news, the love of Christ with him!

In His Loving 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 Lucas* & Maria* 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

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
Lucas* & Maria* 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 Lucas* and his wife, Maria* 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. Lucas and Maria 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 heart’s 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 of our hearts. He does bring healing even in the valley of the shadow of death. Praise be to Jesus!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org