On our January trip to Cuba we completed two incredible back-to-back DTI conferences at the Hermanos en Cristo Leadership Training Centre in Palmira, Cienfuegos province. 208 attendees came from Villa Clara and Cienfuegos, sharing their testimonies of changed lives, fervently worshiping, and learning how to spiritually mentor new believers.
Six new Cuban Facilitators are now part of our team!
When we first started coming to Cuba in 2009, we had to bring a large team from the United States. But our goal was always to equip the Cuban pastors and leaders to facilitate the small groups and take on other responsibilities. Over the past three years we have reduced our traveling team to four. Primarily Frank and Jeannette (Meitz) teach in the general sessions, with Pablo and Martha (Garcia) translating for them and each facilitating their own breakout group. All along, the Cubans were being groomed to be the lead facilitators - since they know best culturally how to convey the DTI concepts (contextualization).
The biggest transformation in their small group leadership style is the transition from preaching to facilitating that we have been emphasizing. We now incorporate a mini facilitation guide in the Cuban DTI manual so that every leader can facilitate for maximum effectiveness when leading small groups.
In this conference their leadership rocketed to new levels. They performed their own dramas; several led team meetings; and some invited others that they began grooming to learn how to facilitate their own small group.
Our Venue: A Techno-Geek's Dream Conference Center
We were the recipients of a lot of hard work by the Brethren in Christ Church in Canada who have worked diligently to build this three-story leadership conference center that houses dormitories, a worship center, classrooms, and a kitchen.
Technology was advanced with terrific resources, (no wifi, though) even though the driveway was a dirt road!
Does God answer a child's prayer?
One precious 4-year old girl sat patiently through the eight hours of small group time with her mother each day. On Thursday (day four), Jeannette felt the Lord prompting us to give this little girl one of the extra dolls that we use in the new believer drama. See the pictures how her eyes lit up and she smiled broadly!
The mother then cried and explained that her daughter had been scribbling prayers on small pieces of paper, asking God for a dolly! Neither of them told anyone -- only the Lord! And the Lord heard her prayer -- and we were privileged to be part of that! "So yes Virginia, God does answer a child's prayer!" Click here to watch the mother's short testimony. (translated by Martha Garcia)
The attendees are always excited to receive the DTI manual to use as a tool to spiritually mentor others.
The Cuban leadership is able to print the DTI manuals in country for about $1 each! Every attendee receives an extra manual so they can begin spiritually mentoring others immediately.
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 however 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.
Amazing Praise and Worship led by the Team from Bayamo!
Pablo passionately shared DTI with a local pastor.
Our B&B owner invited her pastor to meet us.
Pablo explained the key concepts in the manual with him, and he is eager to participate in the next conference.
What's Next for Cuba?
We are praying about scheduling the next conference in early 2018.
Cuban leadership is considering Matanzas, Havana, Ciega De Avilla or Sancti Spiritus.
Please partner with us to pray for where God would have us go and all the logistics.
We expect conference expenses to continue to rise as changes to the embargo result in more tourists forcing infrastructure and other improvements which increases our costs.
This conference we experienced over a 50% increase in expenses from previous years. Please consider a one-time or ongoing monthly gifts for the Cuba conferences.
After two hectic weeks of conferences, we could relax and treat Luis and Yanaisy and their family to lunch.
We were able to purchase seven fresh lobsters from a local fisherman for a total of $15!
Then Pablo cooked them in sea water -- very delicious!
Pray for Pablo and Martha Garcia -- our partners in Cuba
For four weeks until Feb. 26, they will be traveling and teaching two-day seminars on pre-marital counseling and how to facilitate small groups for marriages in trouble, using video and materials from the movie "Fireproof". These resources reinforce the Biblical concept of giving Him Lordship (authority to manage) over our marriages, instead of compartmentalizing our lives into spiritual and non-spiritual areas, because the institution of marriage world-wide is under attack.
CLICK HERE to visit their website: Link International Ministries.
Rolly, our driver for the two weeks, had tried to get the flat tire replaced for his 1959 Opel Kadett, but no station in Cienfuegos had that size/model. But God provides. After driving for 3 hours to Varadaro for some R&R, we pulled into a gas station for water. On a whim, Rolly asked and, behold, that station "just happened" to have a replacement. An answer to prayer!
Worshiping at Ramon's House-Church on Sunday!
We had a wonderful opportunity to worship with beautiful Cuban believers in San Fernando de Camarones, the oldest city in Cienfuegos province.
Afterwards we enjoyed a traditional Cuban meal of soup, rice, chicken, yucca, and salad.
Visiting Ramon's Home
We were privileged to enjoy Ramon and Raquel's hospitality in their home and to pray for God's blessings upon them and their ministry in San Fernando de Camarones. (Ramon and Raquel are two of our facilitators).
Empower, Encourage, Equip, Enjoy!
How do we measure the success of a discipleship conference?
Over the years we have heard various Cuban leaders lamenting about the all too common problem where other ministries conduct a conference and then leave without empowering and equipping those who attend to implement the material.