miércoles, 3 de febrero de 2010
Last Name: Lopez Diaz
Date of Birth: November 6, 1975
Birthplace: Matanzas, Cuba
Marital Status: Married
Identity Number: 75110606389
Occupation: Methodist Minister
I knew Jesus as my Lord and Savior in 1995 when I was in the military service. I began then to attend to “Park Temple” Methodist Church in Jovellanos, Matanzas, Cuba. Very soon I responded the call of God for to be a missionary and I was serving as missionary of my local church for 5 years; in two of the places I worked today there is Methodist churches established. During this stage of my life I received my License as Local Preacher and I graduated of the Institute for Candidates to the Pastoral Ministry of the Methodist Church in Cuba.
During the years that I served as missionary I had been feeling the desire to be a Methodist Minister and I made my application to our District Conference for to enter pastoral ministry. In 2001 I received appointment on behalf of our Annual Conference to be the pastor of Consolacion del Sur Methodist Church, a church located in Pinar del Rio province in the western Cuba.
When I arrived to Consolacion town I was a single pastor. It was a small church that worked in the living room of house of one of the brothers of the congregation, about 19 people attended. I understood that the church needed to have an own house that we could enable as temple and parsonage (in Cuba 60% of the churches works at homes because Cuban government don’t allow build new temples from 1959).
In 2002 with the little money that we had we could buy a small house in a bad located place of the town but I had the conviction that God will give us something better in the future. Once we took an own place we rush to make Evangelism. We begin to open Cells Groups in town and we sent missionaries to open small churches that we call “missions” in the near villages. At same time I began to train the leadership of the church about how to evangelize and plant new churches.
In 2003 I married my wife Odaisy (a great woman of God) and I stop of be a single pastor. I admit that to have my wife as suitable help brought a positive change for my ministry.
In 2005 due to the constant growth of our congregation we understood that it was the moment to build a new building. With the help of a sister church in the Florida we bough a good property very well located in town and the project of construction of our new building began this way. In this same year our daughter Gabriela was born.
At the present time our church is one of the main churches of Pinar del Rio District. Attends the services of Sunday near 80 brothers and sisters, we have 5 missions and 7 Cells Groups. In total there are about 200 people connected our church including missions and cell groups, many of them do no attends Sunday Services, they meets at homes during the week. We have a strong leadership and you can feel in our church an atmosphere of love, fidelity and desire of serving the Lord.
The next December 2009 will be carried out the consecration of our new building, it is a very comfortable building and it has all the necessary conditions for the good operation of our church. I thank to our God and Father, to my wife, to the leaders and brothers and sisters of our church because without their help these achievements would not have been possible to reach.
To be a pastor in Cuba is a great challenge because communist government has a constant surveillance over pastors because we are leaders of influence in the community. The religion freedom is scarce, in an occasion I received the visit of the authorities in my house and they prohibited to be carried out the services there. In occasions the relationship between church and government become tense because the church wants to make its work of to preach the Gospel and to open new churches but the government doesn't give the freedoms and necessary facilities to complete our mission. The basic salary of a Methodist pastor in Cuba doesn't surpass 20 dollars per month; the pastors have the same lacks of the rest of the population.
Nevertheless I can testify that God has been faithful and He has sustained us. God has never abandoned us; He has always sent the early and late rain. In the fights and the tests we have seen the hand of God moving powerfully.
Other Areas of Work
Besides my work as pastor I have also carried out other works within our District Conference and our Annual Conference.
In the last 4 years I have helped our District Superintendent to carry out Local Conferences, to make visits to churches and to make legal paperwork. I have served as Secretary of the Board of District, are part of this Board all the pastors and lay leaders.
I am Principal of our Theological and Biblical Institute of District, attends our Institute pastors, missionaries and church leaders. The pastors participate in the program of Diploma in Theology and the missionaries and church leaders participate in the program of Training for Leaders. In total we have one a registers of 120 students.
The work of our Biblical Institute has had a great impact in the life of our local churches in terms of growth and consecration to the Lord. Our Institute has been supported in the last years by Shreve United Methodist Church belonging East Ohio Conference.
In 2007 I was called by our Bishop Ricardo Pereira to serve as Coordinator of the established relationship with Florida Conference. My work in this area has been to coordinate the travels of missionaries coming from Florida to visit our church in Cuba. I have traveled to the United States in three occasions, two of them in official visit to participate in a meeting that is carried out every year with lay leaders belonging to Florida Conference. I have visit too different Methodist churches in Louisiana, New York, Ohio and Tennessee.
I also help to coordinate the relationship among the Newcastle District belonging to the Methodist Church in the United Kingdom and the Methodist Church in Cuba. I traveled to England in 2007 with the purpose of to settle down and to consolidate this relationship.
I can speak and to write the English language flowingly. I am happily married, proud of being father. I am happy of serving to the Lord and His church, and I give thanks to God for call one day to this holy ministry.
In Jesus love
Rev. Onay Lopez
Consolacion del Sur Methodist Church