Partners with Cuban Youth Leaders,
gang member at fifteen, Fernando threw tomatoes at the church across the street
from his house. Later, he promised his mom that if she would get him out of his
school he would go to church. She did. At his first church service, he realized
his need for Jesus and became a believer. Pastor Alejandro took Fernando under
his wing and discipled him. In time, Fernando became the youth pastor at Liga
Evangélica -- a church with over 200 church plants across Cuba. I met Fernando in
2003 at a Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry Forum in Havana. Warm and personable, yet
restless, always busy and distracted, the Forum training did not seem to
register with him.
forward to 2010. Eric Ball, our International Director, John and Luke Crawford
and I returned from there last week. Fernando had invited us to conduct another
Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry Forum for 20 of his youth leaders from across Cuba.
We accepted. This time Fernando embraced Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry, but
still in a hurry and overly busy, he seemed agitated that it took so long to implement. "All of our leaders need this. Why can't we train them all now?" Our
response: You cannot teach people to do
something that you are not doing yourself.
invited Fernando to attend our Eagle Leaders Experience the next day, two hours
from Havana. From our Eagle Leaders we heard many amazing stories of God's
miracles. But the needs they expressed were overwhelming.
Transparency filled the room. Our team listened as they spoke of:
by an alcoholic father as a teenager now resulting in marital struggles
of babies from miscarriages, a teen at a summer camp, and a father
from people in the church
days in jail
from ministry demands
daily "fight" of all Cubans to survive on $20 per month
80% divorce rate in Cuba
I told them my story of "going under the waterline" a couple years ago. I explained how the Lord broke into my
unresponsive emotions putting me in touch with hidden childhood memories. God revealed
how I had created a false self driven by achievement, performance and control.
He freed me from having to "make it happen" and showed me that He wants me, as
His beloved son, to relax in Him and to live "in His presence in the present,"
more fully aware of Jesus' closeness to me, my own emotions, and the needs of
people around me.
story hit a nerve. We talked through how
God was speaking to each of them. The Lord gave us many breakthroughs, not the
least of which was Fernando! He
told me, "After our meeting the other day I kept saying, 'Barry does not
understand me.' But now I know that more than anyone, you understand me. Like
you, I need to go under the waterline in my life and discover what drives my
need for achievement. Everyone, including my wife, has confronted me. Deep
inside I know that the pain of my parent's divorce and my dad's absence drive
me. I will pursue it until a breakthrough comes." Fernando made a 180 degree
turn in 72 hours!
story, like mine, is often repeated among leaders in Cuba. Driven by emotional
pain and ministry demands, they lose intimacy with Jesus, their families, and
themselves. Yet because of the significant spiritual and emotional breakthroughs
with our Eagle Leaders last week, hundreds of youth leaders will be positively
affected in the coming year.
is on the move in Cuba! Teenagers are encountering Christ and being discipled.
Youth leaders are being trained across the island. Many more want training, but
the 2010 schedule is full. They need more of our resources in Spanish. Most
importantly, we have humble, gifted, intelligent, open-hearted, visionary
leaders who encourage and train other youth leaders like Fernando.
Your prayers for Elio, Leydes, Alexi, Lourdes, David,
Jaime, Pancho, Randy, Giesel, Lazero, Adrian, and our other Eagle Leaders will
bring more breakthroughs. Your gifts will expand our capacity to invest in
|Jesus is Lord,
PO Box 870141
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
Web site: www.reach-out.org