Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Mission Report

Visiting Santago de Cuba

After a 3:00 AM start, long lines at Jet Blue Cuba in Ft Lauderdale, Florida and some very different immigration questioning entering the nation, a friend and I finally had feet on the ground in Cuba at 8:00 AM May 1st, 2019.  About forty minutes later, our Cuban pastor contact came to pick us up in our rental car for the week.


Having just been in Haiti days earlier, I found Cuba to be very green, covered with trees and flowers all along the highways and very well maintained.  There is a noticeable absence of traffic as the Cubans do not own cars.  The highways have mostly trucks, taxi’s, touring buses, a few cars and a large number of motorcycles, the most interesting had added side cars.  My personal favorite to capture on the roads and the small towns along the way were the 1940’s – 1950’s cars and trucks.


Santiago de Cuba is a city of half a million people.  It is the second largest in the country, where the Castro revolution started, where the capital was at one time and where Fidel Castro is now buried.  It is perceived to be the “warmest” city in Cuba because it’s in a valley.  Luis, our Cuban pastor friend, is not from this city, but felt called to plant a church here after he had one convert from a personal visit many years earlier.  The Lord had him move to the city which was not possible at the time because Castro would not allow the sale of your personal home in order to move to another location.  But, as Luis repeated a lot, God provides.


It is very different being in a nation in which the government owns most everything: the water, most buildings which include the stores and hotels, the hospitals, the trucks on the highway, the electrical power generating plants, the farms and fields, etc.  Almost every job is directed by or run by the government and the average worker makes $20.00 – $25.00 per month.  A doctor could make as much as $60.00 per month.  Luis shared with us that the Cuban government provides five pounds of rice, five pounds of sugar and oil to each family, nothing more in the way of food. He said for the average Cuban family this amount lasts for about two weeks.


Friday evening, we had a worship service at Luis’ building.  (Luis’ home and church building are physically connected as are all of the “underground” churches.)  The building would hold 125-150 somewhat comfortably, but we must have had well over 175 persons. The buildings in the city do not allow for air to flow through them and with the humidity and the number of bodies present, I’m guessing it was in the high 90’s.  Our pants and our shirts were soaked through with sweat.  But the worship was awesome and Luis allowed me to share the word that night.


Luis asked me to give an alter call and I am guessing around dozen plus people came forward to give their lives to Jesus.  And then it was like someone threw a match on a pile of gasoline-soaked rags.  The place exploded with dancing, prayer, deliverance and fiery worship.  We came back to our room around midnight exhausted, but a bit dumbfounded at the revival and presence of God in this place.


The same thing happened the next night and the next.  Cuba is experiencing revival like nothing I have ever experienced in my 48 years of being a Christian.  Young and the old are coming to Jesus and it was thrilling to experience.  Every church we visited has a building plan or a church planting plan because of the exponential growth taking place.  I felt privileged to not only see it, but experience it first-hand.


Have you been on a mission trip lately?  It will totally and radically change your life!

In the news, Issues of the Day, Mission Report

Twenty-Five Years After a Rwandan Genocide and Genocide of Another Kind

The Rwandan government is speaking and teaching there is only one people group in the nation of Rwanda. There are no longer tribes and factions. On paper and in speech this sounds fine, but there’s a deep wound in Rwanda that is still not healed.

To speak “one nation” without major heart transformation, forgiveness and blessing rather than cursing would seem like empty and hollow words. Words that mean well, spoken to move the country forward, but words, nonetheless. Unity cannot be legislated while a process of healing cannot be forfeited.

I just returned from this beautiful, clean and prosperous nation in Africa. The Rwandans from the churches that I was part of are dealing afresh with trauma as many of those persons who were incarcerated for their crimes against humanity are now being released from their prison cells. These persons are once again walking the streets and it is causing a response of fear and unrest.

There was so much blood spilled on this soil, but it seems the best answer the world or a government has is to put it out of your mind and move on. How does one reach forgiveness of those who now walk free while their fathers and close family members are in the grave? How does one obey the law of the land while at the same time find freedom from some of the deepest pain a human can endure? Genesis three and verse seventeen records God’s response to Adam concerning the ground he was working. Due to his disobedience God told him, “Cursed is the ground because of you…”

Does the blood of thousands of innocent Rwandans soaking this ground bring life or a curse to this soil?

Thank God that His Son became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). The Son of God died on a Roman cross and was placed into the cursed ground only to be miraculously resurrected. Our King became victorious over death, hell and the grave. The soil could not hold Him. The blood He shed would break the curses of generations.

I was seated at a local church in Kigali, Rwanda waiting for my time to speak thinking about the entirety of the above and actually thanking God that my home nation has not experienced such horrific pain and suffering, at least in my lifetime.

Almost immediately I had this thought, “Not true of America, your home.” And then my next thought was concerning the present holocaust: abortion. Everyday my nation is killing babies in the womb, spilling innocent blood and everyday we walk through life as though it is a normal occurrence to be accepted. My government protects this practice and calls it “a choice.” There is no choice for the baby found living in the womb.  

According to the World Health Organization, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day. In America there are 1.3 million abortions a year, that’s 3,562 per day!

The definition of genocide is: The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group. Between April and June of 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days. Since Roe vs. Wade we, America,  have realized almost 60 million killings!

Can you imagine that we have politician after politician, governors, presidents and Supreme Court members who work tirelessly to keep this crime of abortion alive? Can you imagine that people vote for these politicians dedicated to keep babies torn to pieces by the thousands per day? Rwanda’s genocide is over and has been for many years while ours continues on and on and on, day after day after day and year after year.

Governments will never find the solution for the broken human heart. Legislation cannot change our blood-saturated soil. Even our national leaders would call those leaders who kill their own people uncivilized barbaric murderers. And yet, they themselves are doing similar.

Judas, after betraying his Master, Jesus, said that he had “betrayed innocent blood.” (Matthew 27:4) The Psalmist describes this sin of shedding the innocent blood of children when he writes, “They shed innocence blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.” (Psalm 106:38)

Their blood desecrated the land and themselves (v.39); do we get that?

I am extremely grateful that the tide is turning and the younger generation is far more pro-life today, but I also hear the present generation say to me that they are not one-issue voters. Could this aberration, this abnormality called abortion be normal now in the mind of a believer in Jesus? Could this injustice and lack of mercy toward the unborn be a curse in our land as this innocent blood is shed daily?

In Rwanda there was a tribe dedicated to killing another tribe. And in America there is a demonic tribe dedicated to eradicating the lives of the unborn. If it’s murder to kill a child outside the womb, is it not murder to kill a child inside the womb? I agree that abortion is not the only important issue, but it is foundational to values that we hold dear. It is foundational to what we call life and it is foundational to how we respond at every other level of life.

It was Mother Teresa who said that if we do not respect life in the womb, we would not respect life at any stage of life. We experienced the first school shooting in our nation right after she spoke these words while in Washington, D.C.

The blood of the innocent cries out in Rwanda for sure, but the blood of the innocent child cries out in America too. Are we listening? Are we speaking up for them? Are we a voice for those who have no voice?

Endnote: In the time that it took you to read this there were approximately 80 abortions performed in America.

Encouragement, Mission Report

Where the Rooster Crows Early; the Sights and Sounds of Haiti

IMG_1752The 100%, all natural, purely organic alarm sounds off at 4:14 AM, sometimes earlier. Many other “alarms” follow the lead of this rooster from house to house and Haiti begins to stir. Soon the smell of charcoal smoke wafts into the room where I would still much rather be sleeping. I can hear the old yellow school buses, reconstituted from the USA as an oversized, overloaded taxi, carrying far too many passengers. They are traveling through the main street at a very high rate of speed, constantly blowing their horns while NOT slowing down. A quick prayer asking God that no one is run over, hit or killed. Dogs are barking as they begin their daily routine of scavenging food. Goats bleating and children are stirring. I crawl off my deflating air mattress and out from under my mosquito net. It was a better night of sleep due to the rain vs. the night before when it was 89 degrees in my room with no breeze and no fan. There is no electric here in Montrouis and after many years of traveling to this town, it makes life just a bit more challenging when it comes to…well, everything really.

IMG_1729We are here to conduct a DOVE International Regional Gathering with 27 Haitian churches. There will be many hungry leaders in attendance and we can’t wait to share God’s word with them through teaching, through a skit, through our love and acceptance of them, through handshakes and hugs and through one of their favorite things: a plate full of chicken, rice, fried green plantain, beans and pic kle’ (a local spicy, fermented cold cabbage slaw). It will be a good day and we pray that our Father speaks exactly what they are in need of as primary leaders of the many churches found within three different cities here in Haiti.  And, my very favorite Haitian drink will be served almost cold – Coke in a bottle.IMG_1731

IMG_1720The training begins with an accordion and exuberant worship. They pray for our day like it’s the last day on earth. How do we follow such faith and such expectation? It’s a joy to love these men and women who live in dire need, but who love Jesus. I take time to share that Jesus knows our needs and how the DOVE family prays for their church family in Haiti. Their face speaks a nonverbal, “Really, us?” They smile and are warmed that someone(s) is praying for them.

There are far too many needs here to mention, but the greatest, in my mind, is the truth of the gospel that can lift them out of poverty, out of a hopeless condition and out of a mindset of certain thinking caused by years of poverty. What we offer is life changing, life-giving and life eternal.

IMG_1715Yesterday a little boy told me he was hungry and I gave him a pack of crackers. He smiled and ate them in front of me waiting for something else. He could not speak English and I could not speak Creole, but a hand to the belly means one thing and it was good to be able to share. A similar thing happened last night and we shared bread and banana with two men. I can’t imagine being hungry without any capacity to relieve that hunger. However, a far greater need exist here in Haiti and it’s what causes that poverty and loss: government corruption, crime, the lack of police reinforcement of any laws, generations of poverty thinking, the lack of an infrastructure for travel and utilities, blaming life needs and issues on others and not taking responsibility, a poor and fractured school system and so much more.

Quite honestly, without all the Christian missionaries, pastors, teachers, orphanages and poverty relief organizations, I have no idea where Haiti might be. But “relief” is only immediate and then the powerless Haitian needs more relief. We need more than relief here; we need schools, life training in business and technical training so jobs can be created. And then we need leaders who will lead with integrity, honesty and moral responsibility. Government leaders who will care more about the people who elected them than their multimillion dollar home they are building in the countryside.  We are so thankful for some amazing DOVE leaders who work tirelessly and diligently to bring life to this nation.  It is great to serve alongside them.

IMG_1761Speaking of an orphanage, we were able to visit with Dada, a friend of ours who is a nurse by profession, but who chooses to take in orphans.  She has ten 18 year-old girls because those girls must leave orphanages at 18 and often find themselves on the street.  She takes them in.  She also has taken in 10 babies with various issues of illness and need.  Some she has birth certificates for and others she does not, but one thing is for sure, they are receiving Dada’s love and care.  Please pray for her as she attempts to feed and care for 21 orphans.

This is a beautiful and fertile nation that could lead in solar energy, hydropower, coffee plantations, sugar mills, tree farms and the like. Pray for Haiti.

Help us, Father, to change one life, one mindset at a time. Bless the DOVE churches who not only preach the good news, but who care for and educate the children Monday through Friday on so very little. Give us leaders in the churches, in the schools, in business and in government who will lead in integrity, caring for the people. Empower us to empower them. You have so many children here and so much is, can be and will be accomplished. Keep their faith strong in light of the many needs before them. In Jesus’ name.

Marriage, Mission Report

A Marriage Seminar in Western Kenya

IMG_1301Sitting at a coffee shop three hours west of Nairobi, Kenya would have been unheard of a few years ago. Yes, the coffee café craze has even reached western Kenya. I am in the city of Kisumu, teaching at amazing and growing DOVE International church’s found in Kadawa village and in the village of Musima on the topic of marriage. Our pastoral hosts have with keen foresight arranged the meetings and the couples have responded. It’s hot, it’s humid, but they take in new thoughts like a dry sponge absorbs water. They look at their spouse in amazement, eyes wide open and hearts challenged by God’s word. I ask them to interact together doing some couple exercises and at first it is very difficult, even a tinge of embarrassment comes over them. I keep pushing, asking for responses given out loud, and trying to discover if they are connecting with their speaker, his North American style English words coming through a translator.

IMG_1257Wherever I speak here, part of my introduction is the same, …”the husband of one wife.” There are multiple spouse families here and I ask my host to be the one to address those issues. It’s the third session in the first day and I see some tears and husbands who are noticeably uncomfortable with knowing how to help their wife. On the second day, I ask them the purpose of marriage and to follow that up with writing a marriage mission statement for the two of them. Later, I would ask them to share their statement. They become more comfortable; laughter is more at ease as they talk among themselves and respond much more freely to my many incessant questions. By the end of the two days they are easily encouraged to discuss, open up with each other and attempt to accomplish what this strange mzungu (white man) is requiring of them. And then, my ultimate reward at the close, watching them pray for one another and embracing in a very warm hug. It makes me smile.IMG_1256

Encouragement, Leadership, Mission Report

Leaders Need Encouragement Too

imagesIn a recent conversation, someone reminded me that leaders need a regular dose of encouragement. Leaders tirelessly work toward maturity in the lives of others. Leaders lead in such a way that they continually put themselves out front, knowing they will take some personal “hits”. Leaders naturally think toward growth of their organization, their ministry, their staff and their own personal lives. True God-given leadership never stops desiring to effect change and make a better tomorrow. And, when these natural desires are not met, leaders can become discouraged.

Many years ago my wife and I assembled a youth mission team together. It was our first effort to do such a project and we had 14 very excited and rambunctious volunteers. We spent months preparing for our outreach, speaking into their lives and praying with them. The team did great and completed their mission beyond our expectations. Recently my wife and I were thinking about those 14 names and we asked ourselves, “Where are they today?” Below, see the answers to that question to the best of our present knowledge.images-4

Team member:

#1. Continues with various short-term mission teams; conducted a small engine repair clinic in Uganda; married a nurse with a mission’s heart

#2. Various other mission teams; serves with a human trafficking organization; went to law school

#3. Various other mission teams; serves an orphanage in Mombasa, Kenya now in co-mission with her husband

#4. Completed Bible school, married and became a fulltime missionary to the Middle East

#5. Serving God by serving youth in a mental health facility

#6. Went to Bible school and is now a fulltime missionary to Germany working in human trafficking

#7. A fulltime YWAM missionary for several years and now a DOVE International pastor’s wife

#8. Completed her social work degree and now a missionary in South Africa youth prisons

#9. Leading a church planting effort to Germany

#10. Various mission teams; a medical doctor (surgeon) today working with medical missions

#11. Away from God?

#12. Away from God? Unknown whereabouts.

#13. Went to college; married; a mother of two children

#14. Incarcerated for murder; has returned to God and lives for Him daily in prison soon to be paroled

images-6There you have the outcome of one youth mission team who are now adults. Obviously, a lot more has happened in their lives than just that first team, but when we as leaders do not stop and think about the results of sowing into the lives of others we can become discouraged. Take the time to consider what your heavenly Father has done through you as His obedient leader. You just might encourage yourself.

Encouragement, Mission Report

Our American Culture has an Infatuation with Self-care

How many self-help books would you say are on the market at any given time? Department stores cry out to the new image found as the latest fashion is purchased. One local insurance company in my community has a tag line that reads, “It’s all about you, you, you.” Self-care topics on health, personal happiness, self-fulfillment and self-actualization in the United States must be at an all time high. We can get lost in our television and see ourselves dancing with the stars or one of America’s talents. Culturally somehow we are so easily obsessed with ourselves. In all this our Lord said that the greatest commands ever were to love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

I just returned from a developing nation where simply surviving is a daily task. People asked me for money while others wanted to do a small job so that I would pay them. The end goal was to eat and somehow meet the needs of life for today. School, jobs, health care, books, a computer all out of reach for many of these persons. Once again, I was reminded to my very core that life is not just about me. I felt so selfish and self-protective at times. I felt anger that I lacked compassion at other times. I was concerned about the loss of water and the inconvenience of no electrical serviceimages-6. I once actually found myself thinking about how far behind I will be with email once I return home.  Really, Steve?

We [I] have got to stop making ourselves [me] the center of attention. We show love for God by loving others. In the parable of the Great Banquet Jesus said to go find and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Who are you called to love today?

Marriage, Mission Report, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles

Addis Ababa and Other Such Places (Part II)

Once landing in Kampala, Uganda it was an amazing time of ministry to children, teens, a local DOVE International church, leaders and couples.  These precious people are both hungry for more of God’s principles, as well as, an encouragement in areas of prayer and faith-filled living.  The Ugandan’s are an industrious people who seem to be working from daylight to after dark alongside a small kerosene lantern in order to provide for their families.  There are literally thousands of little stands selling shoes, meat, handmade furniture, jewelry, etc.  They are not dependent on others for their survival and I never heard them complain about life circumstances.  I was privileged to be spending a week with them.

After hearing a teaching on biblical submission, one precious woman of God commented, “This is so freeing to us as woman and so encouraging for our husbands.”  When I gave the overnight homework assignment of writing their own couple mission statement for their marriages, they returned the next morning with excitement to share their paragraphs.  It was as if new life was breathed into their marriage relationship.  One young pastor asked, “But what do I do if my wife will not agree to my vision?”  I then challenged the personal pronoun of the word “I” and the possessive word of “my” and asked them to think in terms of “our.”  How simple and yet so radically different for him when thinking about future vision with his life partner who he is one with.

Do you have a marriage mission statement for your marriage?  It may just change the way you see submission, which literally means to come under the mission.

Encouragement, Mission Report

Addis Ababa and Other Such Places (Part I)

Addis Ababa, ever been there?  Me neither, with one exception.  Over a week ago my plane landed there (Ethiopia) after twelve hours at 39,000 feet.  Sitting at the gate for my next flight to Kampala, Uganda I do not recognize a single word around me.  Foreign has a way of taking on even more foreign when the sites, smells, dress, heat and language are unrecognizable.  One can feel a bit insecure, anxious and excited all at the same time, but it’s another day in the kingdom of God full of anticipation.   It becomes a reality that my security is not found in where I am or whom I am with.  Native faces turn with each passing white face, while comments follow.  I find myself imagining that the conversation is about where this “foreign” person is headed on this African continent.

Vacation it is not.  I am here to serve the DOVE International family in the nation of Uganda.  The leaders have requested that I come to share on principles of marriage.  My prayer has been, “Lord, help me to be sensitive culturally, while at the same time remaining biblical.”  Further, “Help me to humbly remember that I am a foreign guest.”  While I do not desire to offend in any way culturally, worse would be to stray biblically.  I truly believe that God’s word transcends culture.  I am so pleased, so honored to have this opportunity before me.  “Foreign” is a feeling that every believer should feel on this earth anywhere they live or travel.  The Scriptures reveal that we are simply passing through this world into the next one.  If we begin to feel too comfortable, maybe we’ve become too familiar with our surroundings and our too normalized life.  Perhaps it’s time to ask your heavenly Father for an assignment that feels insecure, uncomfortable, stretching and foreign.  It’ll grow your faith and trust in Him.

Leadership, Mission Report


As a child, when I showed up at the dinner table early my mother could be heard saying, “The hungry ones are at the table.”  She was right, I was hungry and ready to consume a wonderful home cooked meal.

I am blessed with the opportunity to speak and share God’s truth around the world.  I do find a difference in the one’s seated before me from place to place.  For some it’s just another meeting; for others it’s a “I’ll see if this speaker can impress me or teach me anything new.”  But for a few, the hungry ones, they are seated at the table early… anticipating.  Mary and I had the privilege of speaking at numerous events this past weekend on the west coast of the US.  People gathered early.  Excitement was in the air.  Anticipation lingered in the Spirit and prayerful hearts were seated with a passionate hunger for what God was about to speak to them.  God did not disappoint them; He delivered to the hungry ones.

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9