Hello family and friends!
I’ve recently returned from my first trip to Cuba and I wanted to give you all an update on what’s been happening in our lives and ministry over the last few months. I can’t believe it’s already May! Summer is here, and for many people that means BBQ grilling, pool parties, beach time, family events, and yard work! Ever since I was a kid, I have loved summers. Partly because I didn’t have to go to school in the summer. Partly because summer meant beach vacations, fishing, sleeping late, family time, and making all kinds of memories that would last a lifetime. Over the last several years, though, summer has also become a special time for me to experience God in ways that refresh my soul and renew my vision for life.
Kim and I were married in summer. This year on May 28, Kim and I will be celebrating our tenth year wedding anniversary! Eden was also born in the summer. She will be turning 7 years old on July 10th! A lot of good things has happened in my life during this special season. I hope that you will be able to find your “summer rhythm” during this time and enjoy God and the people in your life, help others, and find a beach at some point- just to remind yourself of how beautiful creation is. And if unforeseen events take place that try to rob you of your summer bliss, remember the words of the great philosopher Jimmy Buffet who said, “If life gives you limes, make margaritas!”
Since we launched out as missionaries and church planters, we have been incredibly busy doing what we set out to do. Most of our time is spent finding ways to connect with people, developing relationships, planning and attending meetings, preaching, teaching, sponsoring outreach events, meeting with one- on- one for discipleship, and continually finding ways to be more effective in serving people by helping them personally experience the love of God.
It has been a great joy and also a great challenge to discover, learn, and experiment with new expressions of church beyond the traditional Sunday morning/Wednesday night attractional model that the Bible Belt is known for. Shifting gears from traditional church to launching and developing missional communities in 3 different cities is a lot of work, and we definitely do not have it all figured out yet. It’s our goal to plant churches that are externally focused on reaching the world and not internally focused on just taking care of our members. We want to move away from a “membership culture” and instead embrace a “missionary culture”. Our local strategy is to facilitate a network of missional communities and groups (between 30-60 people) that meet all over south Georgia that occasionally come together for larger worship gatherings. Blessing our communities and developing disciples is our core mission. How that looks from city to city will vary, but that’s ok. I think we need more customization and less standardization when it comes to our methods. We must do whatever it takes to reveal Jesus to people who are hurting, confused, sick, broken, empty, or unfulfilled. This means we have adopted a “go to them” approach instead of a “come to our meeting” approach. After all, isn’t that what the Great Commission is all about?
It also has been exciting to have the freedom to give more of our time, energy, and resources into expanding our global ministry in SE Asia as well as nations closer to home. Cuba was a real eye opener for me! For years I have been praying that doors in the Caribbean would open up for us to minister there, but in my mind I was thinking more like Jamaica! Not Cuba! But Cuba was on my heart, and when the door opened up for me to go, I went.
Cuba seems to be famous for Castro’s revolution, 1950’s cars, cigars, and communism. I saw firsthand the effect of communism on the Cuban people and the Cuban church. In spite of all the social and economic challenges they face, the church is exploding with growth! My days there were spent traveling from one church to another (in vehicles with no air conditioning) to meeting with pastors and church planters. I was able to bring in medicine, vitamins, reading glasses, and Bible training materials to give to several of these leaders.
A Pastor’s salary in Cuba is $25.00 per month. Most of them cannot build church buildings so they add on a room to their home. They may cram 100-150 people into a room that is no bigger than your living room! Every home and church I visited was not air conditioned, but a revolving fan may cost $45-60 dollars. When you make $25 dollars a month, fans are a rare commodity. Also, every church I visited was a church- planting church. They are multiplying at a rapid pace! The group of pastors I met are planting one new church a month!
I asked a lot of questions while I was in Cuba and listened to the Cuban people share with me about their culture, nation, and vision for the future. Since it was our first trip, we spent most of our time meeting and connecting with various pastors and leaders. Our goal moving forward is to continue to develop the relationships we started with these leaders and go back to Cuba to help strengthen the churches through conferences, teaching seminars, children and youth ministry events, while also bringing them more items like medicines, vitamins, and even used laptops. We have an entire year of Bible school training materials on a flash drive but some of the pastors in the rural areas of Cuba don’t even have a computer. We want to help some of them in this area, too.
Our fist Cuba trip was a success, and we are gearing up for another trip to Indonesia in June, but we have also been busy on the home front. Here is a short list of some of the things we have been doing to make a difference here at home.
-Provided home cooked meals for people.
-We have done our laundry outreach at least 3 times in local laundry mats where we have paid for laundry that morning.
– Laser Tag/ Bowling family day. Girls dominated btw.
– Printed 1000 “Good God” books to give away.
-Gave away around 600 bottles of cold water during our Peaches to Beaches outreach.
– Continued to purchase items the ministry needs to function.
– Family Park day in Lyons with kick ball, food. The old guys dominated.
– Have continued our school of ministry on Wednesday nights to train leaders.
-Bought a portable sound system and recording equipment to use in our different locations.
– Had the “Gospel of Peace” translated into Indonesian.
– Easter Egg hunt outreach and special worship service at Altamaha Community Center.
– Sent resources to Indonesian Pastors.
We are planning several local summer outreach events that will include a watermelon give away outreach event, a family beach day, a men’s fishing trip, and possibly taking kids to the Jacksonville zoo. On top of all of this, I will be ministering in Indonesia from June 18th-29th. God continues to open up incredible doors for us in the largest Muslim nation in the world. On this upcoming trip we will not only be preaching in churches and leadership conferences, but also will be ministering in an organization that helps rescue women from human trafficking. I will even be preaching in a night club in Bali! More info on this real soon!
Thank you for your continued support and friendship. Your prayers and financial giving are helping us serve people all over the world. Without people like you who believe in us, our message, and vision, we would not be able to make a difference in Cuba, plant churches in south Ga, or advance the gospel in the largest Muslim nation in the world. Together, we continue to make a real difference. There is still much work to do, and our vision is a lot bigger than our current budget, but we are trusting in the truth that the same God who led us this far, will continue to lead us and provide for our every need. With your help, we will continue to convince the world of the love and kindness of God.
For the sake of the world,
Brett & Kim Roberts
300 Pat Dixon Rd.
Hazlehurst, GA 31539