A Dozen? YES, we've held a DOZEN DTI conferences in Cuba! And each time God shows up and overcomes the different challenges (opportunities) -- from our car that broke down, to being asked to "change" hostals, to "old school" electrical plugs!
We averaged about 100 engaged pastors & leaders each of the five days. Nine small group breakouts were facilitated by our Cuban trainers and Pablo and Martha Garcia, our traveling DTI team partners serving in Mexico. (Link Ministries)
Our Host Church: Alianza Misonera CRISTOCENTRO Internacional
All of the attendees were from one denomination CristoCentro, (our first time to work with this denomination). This non-descript church entrance opens to a compound of buildings, rooms and living quarters. They have eight geographic regions throughout Cuba, and the Coordinator for each region attended the entire week, as well as the Vice President.
While they already believe in personal one-on-one discipleship, the senior pastor said their current program was "just limping along". So, they are very excited about implementing DTI.
Each Coordinator received extra books and made plans to conduct mini-conferences in their area.
Pre-Conference - Digging Deeper with our Cuban team
Our expanding Cuban Team -- along with Pablo and Martha, our partners and translators, -- met for three days of fellowship, worship, study and conference preparation. For an afternoon break, we walked several blocks for ice cream -- which cost about $3 total for 12 people!
Our Cuban Partners continue to take on more responsibility
All of the dramas and skits that we use throughout the week to help demonstrate different concepts were performed with excellence by our Cuban Trainers. They also led the daily team meetings, accepted responsibility for logistics, and participated in the main platform teaching typically done by Frank Meitz and Pablo Garcia. Midalys did an excellent job on the facilitation training. Their testimonies are inspiring of how they have implemented DTI in their churches -- and the difference it has made in peoples' lives!
Providing Meals for the Conference
This is the first time we experienced "carryout" food! The church had arranged with a local restaurant to provide the noon meal, but prepared the evening meal on-site.
As a side note, Hurricane Irma wiped out most of the Northern Coast's agricultural crops. This was the first trip we didn't have any bananas, plantains, papayas - or fruit of any kind, which is typically plentiful. Rice and beans and yucca were the staples, with a few tomatoes.
On Wednesday while I (Frank) was teaching on Lordship...
(basically, who is in charge of managing your life -- You or God?), I heard Martha Garcia whisper that several people around her were frustrated because they had never been told about making this decision. Even though I had not planned on it, the Holy Spirit prompted me to stop in the middle of the lesson allowing Pablo to give an altar call for Lordship (or recommitment to His authority).
It was an amazing 35 minutes of men and women praying for each other, as they made the commitment of turning their lives over to the Lord to manage. You can watch a short video of the Lordship altar callhere.
The Lord is growing me considerably as I listen to Him rather than react as a "type A” personality American trainer who wants to complete the lesson plan!
The Trainers told us later how this event was critically important to the conference attendees.
One student shared that his making this Lordship decision several years ago cost him his relationship with his father. Click here to hear that testimony.
Attendees met with their own church leadership during the last session to decide specific IMPLEMENTATION plans for when they return home.
We want to avoid the typical "conference euphoria" where good materials are shelved because "real life" takes over. They took this exercise very seriously, and we anticipate many of these churches will become disciple-making churches.
New Overview of Five Important Principles from Phase 1
We discussed the important principles from Phase 1 with the Trainers in the pre-conference workshop using this graphic Frank drew on a chalkboard.
Since the Trainers found this overview helpful, we "drew" the graphic in PowerPoint to share at the Conference.
Many took notes and captured the images to help solidify the concepts and the importance of incorporating all of them in discipling a new believer.
We will be posting a video for this teaching (in English and Spanish) to our website soon.
Hermanos en Cristo to make DTI part of their on-going seminary curriculum
The denomination we have worked with since the beginning has committed to include the DTI material when they bring pastors from their 99 churches to their main conference center each quarter for on-going training.
When we asked Luis Alberto Hernandez Bermudez, our leader/contact, how many manuals they would need in 2018 for this effort, he responded that 1,000 would not be out of the question!
So we left dollars with him to print more manuals for this purpose throughout the coming year. They can print them in-country for about $1 each.
The DTI manual -- a highly valued tool to spiritually mentor others.
Every attendee receives an extra manual so they can begin spiritually mentoring others immediately. We give out all extra manuals to Pastors and Missionaries.
Thank you for your generosity in supporting the Cuba conferences. Although DTI does not charge for anything (materials are free on our website) we do pay for the entire conference, including food, lodging, transportation and materials since most of the pastors and leaders earn less than $30 a month and do not have the resources to afford attending on their own.
To contribute to having manuals printed for Cuba, click HERE.
Thanks to all who contributed reading glasses. We gave out over 150 pair, and now they can read their Bibles and the DTI manual!
While they often have prescriptions, glasses are in short supply and very difficult to obtain.
Children often attend with parents....
so we enjoyed time with them and gave them small toys to play with -- which are at a premium there.
The little girls always ask for the doll we use in the new believer's skit. (so we have to buy a new doll every trip!)
Thanks to those who contributed to this part of the trip, allowing us to give dolls to the girls and toy cars to the boys.
One man shared how God saved him just a year ago out of satan worship.
He was very passionate throughout the week, and said he wanted an extra book so he could start discipling his wife. He also felt God calling him to plant a church and implement DTI in that misson.
The Cuban team was delighted with our gift of a DTI backpack. The bags have reflector stripes so they can be seen when riding a bike at night, their typical mode of transportation.
We also gave one to each of the eight geographical Coordinators for their books.
Please pray with us as the leadership in Cuba, as well as our team, seek God's guidance for where to target a conference in 2019 -- probably in March or April.