Sometimes you meet people and you have an immediate affection for and connection with them. Ernesto and Yanetsi are two such choice folks. In 2001 (I think it was), we wheeled into Modesto Rey - a small village a few kilometers from Ciego de Avila, Cuba (about 300 miles from Havana). When we first met Ernesto and Yanetsi she was pregnant then with their son. We asked what they were doing in Modesto Rey and they said they were waiting on the Lord to direct them. They had a clear vision that God wanted them to start house churches among the surrounding villages and train leaders to pastor the churches. We told them that was what we were all about and asked them when we could get started. Ernesto said , “What about right now?” and he jumped in the van and we took off for the village next door. We were able to get two Bible studies started in two villages that first trip that eventually turned into house churches (even though I do not honestly know what the difference actually is). We sensed that the folks around that area were hungry for the gospel and it has certainly proved to be true over the years since. As of this writing there are 28 house churches up and running with leaders being equipped to minister to the flocks there! After a year of meeting in their two room wooden shack of a house, one of our board members who faithfully goes to Cuba, decided to personally fund the building of a house/church that would be more suitable for Ernesto and family. The wooden house they were in had no running water (just a hand pump outside), no indoor plumbing (just a makeshift outhouse), one combined bedroom/kitchen, and one small room where the church met together. After our first week there, we were headed back to Havana to catch the plane home and to drop off our two interpreters (dear brothers in Christ who graciously give of their time to be our mouthpieces - without whom we would be useless there). One of them, Ivan, said on the trip back, “Man, those people are poor!” That seemed a little odd coming from a fellow Cuban, but then he said, “I believe the Lord wants me to give Ernesto my bicycle so he can get around to the other villages.” I was impressed and told him I would gladly take it to Ernesto the next time down, which was scheduled for about three months away. Sure enough, the next trip, Ivan loaded his bike in the back of the van, we took it to Ernesto.... and something special began to happen. Stay tuned. Third, fourth, fifth, and sixth house churches were begun that very trip! Ernesto would be getting spread thinner and thinner, so we ask him what a motorcycle would cost so he could more rapidly get from village to village to preach and teach. He said about $400.00. We left the money with him and told him to go get one. The very next time down, I was expecting to see a motorcycle, but Ernesto says, “I hope you are not angry with me, but...” I waited for the other shoe to drop... “but, I did not feel it was right for me to have a motorcycle while all the other leaders (five of them at the time) are walking, so I hope you do not mind, but I bought four bicycles for them.” What? Do we have any of those kinds of leaders here? More on Ernesto later. The “biker” ministry sprang to life! (from Ivan, to Ernesto, to the leaders) 




Wednesday, February 28, 2001

 ERNESTO