February 2013 

Friends of Cuba's Great Youth Leaders,


Pino Fernández is my friend, hero and one great youth leader! Highly educated, Pino has a M.D. degree, though he has never practiced medicine. He holds a M.Div. degree and a M.A. in youth ministry. He is resourceful, creative, a hard worker, winsome, and called to Youth Ministry. With 15 years of youth ministry experience, he became part of our Cuba team in 2005.



But that was before the twins arrived. He and his wife Danay have two teenage boys. Five years ago, Danay gave birth to twin girls--a blessing, and yet a serious problem. They lived with his parents, and made $10-20 a month--average for most Cubans. But because of the increased size of their family, they had to find other housing and more money. To survive, Pino left Youth Ministry and became a pastor because the church provided housing. He still tried to invest in youth leaders, but the church grew, his kids grew, and he had no car. Through no fault of his own, he got squeezed out of his calling.


When Superstorm Sandy swept through Cuba--who in the USA knew?-- the water destroyed the church's roof. Add to Pino's responsibilities: construction worker. Now his wife requires surgery, and he has no money. When we inquired about his finances, he felt embarrassed. Never has he asked for money.


Desperate, yes, but not different from most Cuban Christians who try to live honestly amid rampant corruption. Desperate finances, yes, but also desperate to return to full-time youth ministry.

Like our other leaders, Pino is called! So he came to Reach Out's Eagle Leader's Experience for further preparation to coach other youth leaders. Pino has invested significantly in many of our Eagle Leaders--Pancho, Darwin, Israel, Gian Carlos, Hector and Ghango, to name a few. Not only do they know he cares for them, but he has an intuitive sense of how to coach them, of how to lead them deeper into knowing Jesus and toward reaching and discipling kids. So we kept asking ourselves, "How do we get Pino back into full-time ministry?"


Pino's story is the Cuban dilemma. All of our leaders have brains and education, talent, creativity, and resourcefulness. They are great leaders! But the Cuban bandwidth is almost non-existent compared to USA youth leaders. Yet called youth leaders like Pino press on. They do what they can with what they have. 



Working with these severe limitations, 18 of our Eagle Leaders followed through on their dreams. In our sessions together, we laid out our plans to coach younger generation leaders and churches more deeply and thoroughly. Since 2005 our Cuba team has trained over 1200 youth leaders in Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry. But, beginning now, our Eagle Leaders will coach one church for one year to implement Jesus-Focused Youth Ministry. With the pastor and youth ministry team, they will conduct 2 Prep Sessions, 1 Forum, and 3 Retreats.


On the last morning, each guy wrote on a big whiteboard his personal plan to coach. 18 leaders will coach 25 churches in 2013. We require that each church we train then trains at least one other church. We projected that during five years:  


2013--25 churches trained

2014--50 churches trained

2015--100 churches trained

2016--200 churches trained

2017--400 churches trained   


All of us looked at the whiteboard, quite moved! Then Elio Martiz, Eric Ball, and I prayed over each one for the Spirit's anointing to do this. We departed with many tears, laughter and hugs.



Each session began by reflecting on and praying about 2 Corinthians 1-4. The theme of "hardship" spoke to their Cuban dilemma. (Pino's difficulties fit right in.)


We do not lose heart...we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed...Therefore, we do not lose heart...(2 Corinthians 4: 1, 7-8, 16).


Will you join our Cuban leaders, like Pino, by discovering more, praying for the "all-surpassing power," and by giving generously to Reach Out in Cuba? With God's power and resources they can pursue their plan of coaching churches and fulfill their dream of reaching and discipling Cuba's teenagers for Christ!

Jesus is Lord,


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